Let’s Talk About Care

Our Managing Director, Ramses Underhill-Smith recently spoke to the folks at Let’s Talk About Care podcast.

A media platform that cares about the care sector, the podcast aims to give people hope for the future. It brings funny, heartwarming and inspiring stories about care and hear from experts, policy makers and celebrities as well as those receiving and giving care.

Host Angeline Albert asked Ramses why care homes and home care agencies should champion LGBT+ rights.

Not only does Ramses conclusively answer the question, he shares his personal insight into why it matters.

You can listen to it here:

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Beat the Heat: Coping with heat and COVID-19

Although most of us welcome the summer sun, high temperatures can be harmful to your health. The heat can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm. Many of those who are at risk of harm from heat are also at greater risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 and may need to spend more time at home than they would usually. Others may need to stay at home because they are self-isolating or recovering from the infection.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, its especially important that you know what actions to take to keep yourself and others safe from high temperatures.

This article tells you how to stay safe in hot weather, including how to keep your home cool. In preparation for warmer weather, use our simple checklist to find out if your home is at risk of overheating and find out what you can do if there is a problem. You can download the checklist from the PHE heatwave webpage https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/heatwave-plan-for-england

  • Shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight, external shutters or shades are very effective, while internal blinds or curtains are less effective but cheaper.
  • Do not store alcohol hand sanitiser in direct sunlight
  • Metallic blinds and dark curtains can make a room hotter.
  • Open windows when the air feels cooler outside than inside, for example, at night. Try to get air flowing through your home, if possible.
  • Turn off the central heating, and lights and electrical equipment that aren’t in use.
  • Use electric fans if the temperature is below 35°C, but do not aim the fan directly at the body and ensure you stay hydrated with regular drinks.
  • Do not use a fan if anyone in the home is unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Check that fridges and freezers are working properly.

If you have concerns about an uncomfortably hot home that is affecting your health or someone else’s health, seek medical advice.

You may be able to get help from the environmental health department within your local authority; they can do a home hazard assessment.

Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol

Fluid requirements are higher than normal in hot weather and after strenuous activity, to replace fluids lost through sweating

Everyone is at risk of dehydration in hot temperatures, but babies, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

Keeping hydrated will be especially important for people who are unwell with coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and managing their symptoms at home.

Those who have been unwell with coronavirus (COVID-19) and are recovering, particularly those who have been discharged from hospital, are likely to be more vulnerable to risks from heat stress and dehydration due to complications, for example, damage to their kidneys.

Look out for signs of dehydration such as increased thirst, a dry mouth, dark urine, and urinating infrequently or small amounts. Serious dehydration needs urgent medical attention, more information is available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dehydration.

Drink plenty of fluids: water, lower fat milks and tea and coffee are good options.

Fruit juice, smoothies and soft drinks do count towards your fluid intake, but can be high in sugar. Limit fruit juice or smoothies to a combined total of 150ml a day and swap sugary soft drinks for diet, sugar-free or no added sugar varieties.

Slow down when it is hot

Heavy activity can make you prone to heat related illnesses, even if you are fit and healthy.

What can I do?
Avoid extreme physical exertion. If you can’t avoid strenuous outdoor activity, such as sport, DIY or gardening, keep it for cooler parts of the day – for example, in the early morning or evening.

Children should not take part in vigorous physical activity on very hot days, such as when temperatures are above 30°C.

More of us are walking and cycling to support social distancing measures on the transport system; listen to the forecast and take it easy if the weather is hot, especially if you are travelling in the hottest part of the day.

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The Coronavirus Act 2020 and social care

The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Coronavirus Act) sets out the temporary emergency measures that enable public bodies such as local authorities, NHS and the police to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The measures are wide-ranging and impact on both existing legislation and regulations.

LGBT care for all
Care for gay seniors

Here is a break down of what the emergency changes mean to adult social care in England, what the temporary suspension of duties are under the Care Act 2014, and regulations and the implications for those individuals who are reliant on care and support provisions from their local authority.

Emergency period

The impact of a severe coronavirus outbreak can result in a significantly reduced workforce due to sickness, imposed isolation, caring responsibilities, and a surge in social care enquires, making it potentially impossible for local authorities to fulfil their statutory duties under the Care Act 2014. In response to the pandemic, several duties under the Care Act 2014 have temporarily been suspended and some modified, to prioritise care and support packages for people with the most urgent and serious social care needs. Government guidance states that such powers should “only be used if demand pressures and workforce illness during the pandemic meant that local authorities were at imminent risk of failing to fulfil their duties and only last during the duration of the emergency”.

Changes to the Care Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 places explicit legal duties on local authorities to provide or arrange services for individuals and their carers with care and support needs in their local area. However, given the emergency period, temporary changes have been made to the Care Act 2014, which mean local authorities do NOT have to comply with the following duties in the normal way:
• Duties to assess the needs of the adult under section 9.
• Duties to assess carers needs under section 10.
• Duties to give written record of adult’s needs and carer’s assessment under section 12.
• Duties to determine eligibility for care and support under section 13.
• Duties to carry out financial assessment under section 17.
• Duties to meets adult’s needs under section 18 and carer’s need for support section 20.
• Duties to prepare care/support plan under sections 24, 25 and 27.
• Duties where an adult expresses a preference for accommodation.
• Duties to assess a child’s needs for care and support under Section 58 and 59.
• Duties where an adult moves from one local authority area to another under section 37 and 38.
• Duties for the transitioning of children to adult care and support.

Human rights
The Coronavirus Act confirms that a local authority must still meet an adult’s needs for care and support under section 18 of the Care Act 2014, where necessary to avoid a breach of the adult’s human rights. Carers’ needs for support under section 20 of the Care Act 2014, must also be met where necessary to avoid a breach of the carer’s human rights. The Government gives examples of which rights could potentially be breached, that is, Article 2 ‘Right to Life’, Article 3 ‘Prohibition of torture’ and Article 8 ‘Right to respect for private and family life’ of the of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Safeguarding vulnerable adults
It is important to note that the Coronavirus Act does NOT affect the safeguarding protections in the Care Act 2014. This means that local authorities still owe a duty of care, under section 42 of the Care Act 2014, towards an adult who is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect.

Implications and key points
These easements took legal effect on 31 March 2020, but should only be exercised by local authorities where the workforce is significantly depleted, or demand on social care increased, to the extent that it is no longer reasonably practicable for it to comply with its Care Act duties (as they stand prior to amendment by the Coronavirus Act) and where to continue to try to do so is likely to result in urgent or acute needs not being met, potentially risking life.

The emergency measures in the Coronavirus Act are only temporary. They will be reviewed by Parliament every six months, and all assessments and reviews that are delayed or not completed will be followed up and completed in full once the easements are terminated.
Any change resulting from such a decision should be proportionate to the circumstances in a particular local authority. It is clear that they should comply with the pre-amendment Care Act provisions and related Care and Support Statutory Guidance for as long and as far as possible.

Prioritisation decisions made by local authorities must be made consistently and ethically, and by law, they must have regard to the Guidance – Responding to COVID-19: the ethical framework for adult social care issued by the Department of Health and Social Care.

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At Alternative Care Services the health, wellbeing and safety of our clients, staff and partners is our top priority – every single day.

The situation with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues to develop, and as of Friday, March 13th, the UK government decided that they are no longer testing for the COVID-19 virus and are asking anyone who has symptoms to self-isolate straight away.

Working with our local health team doctor, we have developed a policy to support our clients, our staff and partners to ensure we are protecting and supporting everyone we work with. Our policy closely follows the NHS and UK Government guidelines set out for care providers.

I would like to remind you that if you believe you may have been exposed to the virus must still notify NHS 111 immediately.
We also ask that you notify us immediately, if you have any symptoms and think you may have the virus.
Again, we’d like to remind you of the symptoms, which may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:

• cough
• difficulty in breathing
• fever

The self-isolation period is 7 days, but the NHS have said that you must have two days without a fever before you are able to leave self-isolation.

If you have the virus, but are not critical the procedure we can still provide you support.
Our staff will wear gloves, aprons, face masks and eye coverings when supporting you.
We can also go shopping for you and bring to your home. However, all waste (yours and our PPE) will have to remain in your home until the self-isolation period is over.

We are available to speak over the phone or via email at any time of the day or night.

If you have symptoms or believe you may have been infected and have any of the pre-existing illnesses:
Respiratory illnesses
Heart disease
Cystic fibrosis
or anyone who is not capable of any self-care or are in a very weakened or critical state we will:

We will call emergency services to be administered into the hospital for urgent medical attention. We will call for an ambulance transfer you to a hospital, and inform the ambulance call handler of the potential links to COVID-19.

Following the patient transfer to hospital, we will leave your home and advise that no visitors go to your home as it should be closed and should not be used until further advice is provided by the local Health Protection Team.

We will also contact:
Our local health protection team
Public Health England

What will happen if our staff become infected:

If a member of staff is concerned they have COVID-19 they will contact 111 immediately and follow the NHS guidance. They will contact us (ACS) immediately, self-isolate immediately and follow the PHE guidance. They will not visit or care for individuals until safe to do so.

We will also alert you immediately if our staff have become effected and you have had any contact with them.

While staff are self-isolating we will provide cover with another member of staff and we may have to use staff from another agency.

Your health and safety is our number one priority, as is the health and safety of our staff. We are available to speak any time you need us and will support you through these uncertain times.

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Why do we need LGBTQI+ care?

We have been asked on many occasions why we think there’s a need for LGBT care.

At Alternative Care Services we believe it’s about creating safe and respectful spaces for older LGBTQI+ people, especially when they’re at home.

The need for (and lack of) safe spaces for the older LGBT generation  is an issue that has been discussed by many organisations for many years.

In fact, there have been multiple studies (Marie Curie Hiding Who I Am being one) that have revealed that senior LGBTQI people live in fear of discrimination when receiving care.

Another report, conducted by Stonewall (Unhealthy Attitudes 2015) shows that a large proportion of healthcare staff are not confidently equipped with the necessary skills to provide thorough care for LGBT people, elderly or otherwise.

We believe that traditional models of care in Britain are letting down the older generation of LGBTQI+ people, and this is where we are taking a stand.


What Alternative Care Services does:

At Alternative Care Services we offer the very best, non-discriminatory care and support for all of our service users.

We employ staff from the LGBTQI+ community, in fact 90 percent of our staff identify as LGBTQI+.

That’s important as we believe that they are more likely to be able to respond to the specific care needs of an older generation of LGBTQI+ people.

We also make sure they are fully equipped to meet all needs of all our clients.  Ultimately, we’ve employed people from the community to serve their community.

The Alternative Care Services teamWe believe there are fundamental issues within a care system that simply doesn’t acknowledge the existence of the LGBT community.

This ‘invisibility’ happens at the outset of the care process as all the referral forms are heteronormative, so social services doesn’t even know how to offer LGBT-focused services. There is no way of offering it.


What can be done to end the discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community?

We think there needs to be a change within the care system at large to futureproof the services for younger generations.
In an ideal world, everyone would live together in harmony, there would be no phobias, discrimination or bias.


Why choose LGBTQI+ care?

This may one day be a reality, but until then, Alternative Care Services will provide the very best personally-centered care and support to all with kindness, dignity, respect and understanding, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI).

Our aim is to enable all to live satisfying; independent lives while maintaining values and identities.

Providing exceptional care to the LGBTQI+ community is what we do, because you’re not an afterthought, you’re our first thought.
Here’s a list of our full unique services and all of our costs are transparent.

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What it means to be LGBTQI+

There are many types of sexual orientations and gender identities, so we explain what they all stand for:

L – Lesbian: a woman who is attracted to other women

G – Gay: a man who is attracted to other men or broadly people who identify as homosexual

B – Bisexual: a person who is attracted to both men and women

T – Transgender: a person whose gender identity is different from the sex the doctor put down on their birth certificate

Q – Queer: originally used as a discriminatory term, more recently, the term is used by people who are not heterosexual and/or not cisgender and people who reject traditional gender identities and seek a broader and deliberately ambiguous alternative to the label.

Q – Questioning: a person who is still exploring their sexual orientation and/or gender identity

I – Intersex: a person whose body is not definitively male or female. This may be because they have chromosomes which are not XX or XY or because their genitals or reproductive organs are not considered “standard”

A – Allies: a person who identifies as straight but supports people in the LGBTQQIAAP community

A – Asexual: a person who is not attracted in a sexual way to people of any gender

P – Pansexual: a person whose sexual attraction is not based on gender and may themselves be fluid when it comes to gender or sexual identity

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