Bereavement support

There is never a ‘good time’ or an ‘easy time’ to lose a loved one for whatever reason. However, we are now in such unprecedented times that for those having to organise a funeral and only being able to have a few relatives present it is unimaginably hard.

The past month or so I have spoken to several families going through the bereavement journey and I feel their pain, frustration and disappointment in not being able to honour their family with as they say ‘a good send off’ .  Many are planning to do things in the future – tree planting is always a good idea something permanent in their memory.

Speaking with a minister friend earlier today we both agreed that when things are gradually back to normal there will be such a lot of hugging going on… we both know from working with families how everyone is missing human contact. We also agreed the chocolate munching is keeping us going and how he would be busy with a lot of christenings in the future following an expected baby boom!

Seriously though, as ever, if you know anybody recently bereft please keep in contact just a quick call, saying ‘there are no words but just to let you know I am thinking of you’ means so very much.

Stay safe and be kind to one another.


Supporting students…of all ages

Continuing to support students is vital during these times when schools, colleges and universities are closed. Luckily with technology this is something that is easily achieved. However, what we mustn’t forget is the hard work which goes on in the background organising all the online activities and the tutors who are doing their best to continue to motivate and support their students…and of course some are more dedicated than others.

I can acknowledge the true value of support, as in my own unit, my daughter has appreciated tutors and her university going the extra mile. Additionally, for myself, as a mature student,  (taking my own continual professional development seriously) I am enhancing my own skills with distance learning courses from the BSY Group.

Over the years I have taken several of their courses and the support and quality of course material and assignments is second to none. Doesn’t matter how old we are, a) we are never to old to learn knew things and b) we all crave encouragement and acknowledgement when our efforts are recognised. I for one, look forward to receiving my assignments back and reading my tutor’s comments, hopefully favourable, and of course, taking heed of any advice to keep my study focus on track.

To all those in the education sector sincere thanks for keeping everything going during such a difficult time and that includes all the administration back-up staff as well as the tutors.

Keeping fit

I’ve always been good at getting out for little walks whenever possible and finally got one of these fit watches that record one’s steps alongside other various data. Yesterday I was a bit short of my target number but when I woke up in the middle of the night (after midnight and a new day of counting) I discovered I had managed 12 more steps?? So I am obviously dancing around in my sleep…every little helps.

Seriously though any exercise even chair exercises are great and as lovely as it is to watch all those box sets on TV we must move off the sofa or we will all have huge bottoms…but more worrying is the threat of poor circulation.

It’s good to learn when talking to various elderly folk that so many of them have taken to doing exercises in the morning rather than let their joints seize up. I told one of my old couples to put their cd player on and have a tea dance.

Keep well and keep active.

More time with loved ones

So we are all digesting the prospect of a further three weeks on lock down. The past two days since the announcement, which surely really came as no surprise to most, I have spent encouraging people to see this as a positive step…it’s keeping us safe.

It has however probably made a few people think about putting some structure into their day and/or tackling some long over due jobs, maybe some home decorating if you have the paint and inclination.

I found myself today having a spring clean in the kitchen, tidying cupboards..sounds impressive but really it was another case of being on the run from the ironing and other such wonderful chores.

Seriously, the news prompted me to  step up contact with my elderly folk and clients, yes, they have coped well the past weeks, but we want to keep their spirits up so please again may I remind you younger followers to ring your elderly relatives and neighbours. Not everyone is IT savvy and those that are have plenty of contact eh?

Keep safe, keep a structure to your day and keep communicating. Try not to eat too many sweets and treats as we know what follows those two culprits…yes the dreaded diet.

Captain Tom Moore…our amazing NHS

How could my blog possibly be about anything other than the amazing Captain Tom Moore and the NHS staff. The whole nation and indeed so many countries across the world have got behind him and I believe the figure he has raised is 13 million for the NHS – which is unbelievable.

What  an inspiration he and so many people of that generation are to the younger generations. They set a fine example of being stoic, positive and grateful in acknowledging the sacrifices that our wonderful NHS staff are making on a daily basis.

I know from friends with families working on the front line that all staff are absolutely exhausted not to mention the emotional stress that they take home after every shift. I have never taken the NHS or any of its medical staff for granted and remain eternally grateful to the team at UCLH London, especially my own G.I. specialist  Anton. Huge thanks for my life changing operation some ten years plus ago and the continued care and treatment that I receive – their care and positive attitude has never faltered. They all go the extra mile…and then some.

The Thursday clapping is both joyous and emotive and by golly they all deserve it.

As for Captain Tom Moore -how proud must his family and friends be…I know we all are.

Keeping a routine going

In these difficult times it is quite hard for some people who may be used to a routine. Routines may be annoying for many but for some it forms a structure of normality and even comfort.

I recall when my family unit were going through a particular personal challenge our fabulous childminder reminded me to keep as much routine in my daughter’s life (then age 4) as possible.

My tip for today is, as crazy as it may seem, any type of routine we set ourselves rather than veg out in our pjys all day every day will really help with our well being.

Visiting two of my elderly clients earlier they have been really quite good at trying to replace all their previously enjoyed activities and break from each other…such as trips to the hairdressers, day centres, W.I. etc with various house and garden jobs then their afternoon walk.

We can learn an awful lot from the older generation who have already got being grateful for small things down to a fine art. It doesn’t take much to lift their spirits but I know everyone that is living at home alone really appreciates any interaction.

Please use that telephone as much as you can. Remember not everyone has an iphone and can face time those they love so a call to your Gran or elderly uncle or aunt will go a long way to breaking up their long day.

Stay safe, stay positive and keep well.

Storing stress

I often write how our body is like a balloon if we squeeze it in one place the air moves to another part. Stress invades our body in various ways and unless we make an effort to exercise, maybe practice yoga or find ways of relaxing and chilling then our body will respond…negatively.

Stress can affect us in many ways, neck ache, head aches, stomach issues and not to forget sleeping problems. I think I have always been pretty good at not holding onto stress and keeping relaxed by switching off by means of distraction. However, I too have had a few neck issues of late..too much time on the phone and at laptop doesn’t help.

Yesterday, although I had been massaging said neck and doing gentle exercises my daughter informed me I was moving my head like an owl when I turned to speak to her. This made us both laugh…and I always say laughter is the best tonic…but maybe just add a small measure of gin.

My message today is try not to let things consume you and enjoy what’s good in your own unit as best you can. I am certain we will all look back and have some good memories about the premium time we spent with loved ones whilst missing many others.

Personally I am looking forward to hugging all my family and having a very special with my new great nephew who I have yet to meet. However tough you may feel your own circumstances are there are many more especially the elderly that are finding it much tougher. I am off to do a very safe distance chat with two of my favourite old people.

Keeping positive

These are challenging times for everyone. With time on our hands and more time to think for many it will be a struggle emotionally. Keeping focused on things we enjoy and looking forward positively will help prevent feelings of hopelessness. This could be the time that you fall back in love with those neglected hobbies, open up those forgotten books and think seriously perhaps about learning a new skill.

Keep all communication lines open as I can assure you many people around you may be feeling just the same as you…we are all in this together and there has never been a better time to work on our relationships and share with loved ones

As my own amazing mentor and mother used to say ‘worrying about things will not change them’…and there has never been a truer piece of advice. Most of things we worry about never materialise.

If you are struggling, please talk to somebody, if you don’t feel comfortable talking to somebody close to you, there are many support charities with trained counsellors who will help you make sense of what you are feeling.

In my experience as a counsellor and life coach whatever may be the reason behind the way you are feeling it is always better to talk it through rather than store up your emotions. ‘Freud’s talking cure’ really does work.

Keep safe, keep positive and keep talking.

Taking for granted… the simple things

I know I am not alone in thinking just how much we take people and things for granted until… we miss them. Like the group of bell ringers at St Mary’s church.

When I moved to ‘the other side of the village’ I moved nearer to St Mary’s and soon was able to enjoy the sound of the church bells. Indeed, I recall now fondly how the Sunday morning calling bell used to wake up our chickens, how I would dash into the garden in my pjys to put them in the run to avoid ruining my neighbour’s Sunday lay ins.

I have got somewhat used to hearing my friend Pauline and her colleagues practising on a Tuesday evening as I work with my home students. So today I will dedicate this to Pauline and apologise for all the years that I have taken her skills for granted whilst selfishly enjoying the sounds of the bells ringing.

It is a simple thing I know but already I am missing that almost regimented sound which reminds us that the church is ‘open for business’ and things are as they should be….

I have no doubt  when it is appropriate the bells will be rung again to celebrate the end of lock down.

Care Workers in nursing homes

Working with the elderly is as equally rewarding as it is challenging we must salute the care workers meeting the corona virus head-on within our nursing homes. However, I am always mindful that in so many nursing homes they are often run short staffed and with a serious lack of fully trained staff. It is political, everything is, but speaking as somebody with family, friends and clients with loved ones in nursing homes my observations are honest and come from a point of caring for the residents and the staff.

Anybody who has stayed in a nursing home or has family in one know how expensive it is just for a week’s stay. My main gripe has to be that with an increased ageing population and the reality of the high people with dementia that these homes must have more financial support and proper independent policing. Staff must be fully trained and paid a decent hourly rate, with so many taking these roles as a vocation their dedication and endeavours must not go unrewarded and unsupported.

When having a discussion with a fellow colleague who helps deliver cognitive support in a nursing home we challenged why it is expected that so many people offering services should be volunteers? These homes are not charities they are businesses and making a lot of money for the various franchises that own them. I personally witnessed an independent home having been taking over by a franchise certainly experience a deterioration in the care and the quality of food and continually run by under-trained staff expected to run on shortage of staff -so no adhering to the safe ratio of staff to residents. To those family members I recommend visit often (not at the moment obviously) but in usual circumstances if you don’t you will not really be able to judge the level of care your loved one is receiving.

During the Corona virus we are seeing/hearing about clusters of deaths and great dedication of staff who are not considered as front line support when they so obviously are. My concern that staff are not necessarily trained in containment nursing for any bugs or viruses which is unsatisfactory and unsafe for residents and staff alike.

My plea would be that the government need to take a strong and focused look at how these nursing homes are run and not consider the elderly and the staff who look after them as second class citizens….they are not!