Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Social Care Alba was established to improve the quality of peoples’ lives, and everything we do is focused on that single goal.  Over the past few months we have started a number of initiatives that help us to achieve this goal.  Here is a short update on just a few things we are doing.

To make sure we are doing the best we can, both staff and people who use our services are encouraged to give us feedback through quality surveys.  The results have been excellent and we would like to thank everyone who participated.  Without exception people are delighted with the service we are delivering.  I would like to say THANK YOU TO OUR STAFF for all their hard work and dedication.

One area where we would like your involvement is in our staff interviews.  Many people are reticent about conducting an interview so we would like to know WHAT QUESTIONS WOULD YOU LIKE US TO ASK.

We still want to hear more from you and I would like to give people who use our services and staff an OPEN INVITATION TO CONTRIBUTE, to any of our meetings or surveys.  To get involved just email or call us.

Some other quality assurance work we are undertaking includes:
  • Healthy Working Lives
  • ISO 9001
  • Investors in People
  • Participation Group
  • Quality and Training Group

 If you would like to get involved in any of these pieces of work please get in touch.

Finally the Health and Sport Committee has published its report on the Inquiry into the Regulation of Older People.  Social Care Alba’s contribution has been reflected in the positive changes proposed.  To read the whole report click HERE.


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Participation - GETTING INVOLVED

Whether you use our service, work for us or with us, we want to make sure you are treated with DIGNITY and RESPECT. 

To help COMMUNICATE with each other and to encourage everyone to GET INVOLVED we have developed a range of methods such as:

  • A Participation Group
  • A Training and Quality Group
  • A Healthy Working Lives Group
  • Quality Questionnaires
  • Reviews
  • Access by phone or email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Website
  • Blog

If you are interested in becoming more involved with us then we would love to hear from you.  By getting involved you can:

  • Tell us about the quality of our services, staff and management
  • Participate in staff recruitment, training and assessments
  • Help ensure staff are professional and skilled, and treat you with respect

If you use our services then we want to make sure your care and support needs are being met.  This starts by ensuring that your assessment covered everything you need, and that we support you in making choices.

If you work with or for us then we want to make sure that you have an opportunity to be involved in training, quality and the development of the company.

For more information please email us at office@social-care.org or call us on 0845 0945 279.  Whether your contribution is large or small we would love to hear from you.

Kind regards

Stephen                Nataly                            

Stephen Wilson                        Nataly Wilson
Director                                       Director


Monday, 31 October 2011

Dehydration and Dementia

There are potentially multiple problems resultant from the links between dementia and dehydration.

  • First, dehydration can cause symptoms which can be confused with dementia
  • Second, dementia can cause dehydration
  • Thirdly, dehydration can  aggravate dementia
  • Fourthly, dehydration is an increased danger when dementia is in its final stages
  • Finally, ensuring that a person with dementia is sufficiently hydrated is very difficult
Dehydration has symptoms in common with senile dementia symptoms, age dementia symptoms and Alzheimer’s symptoms.  Rehydrating an older person can often allow them to return to a full and normal life.
The most common symptoms of dehydration include thirst, persistent fatigue and  lethargy, muscle cramps or weakness, decreased urination and a dark yellow colour of the urine, nausea and headaches, dizziness,  memory function loss, confusion, deep rapid breathing, and increased heart rate.
Left unchecked, dehydration can even be fatal
It is evident from the author’s discussion of the experiences of care home quality inspectors that it is rare to find adequate care planning for support of rehydration, or avoidance of dehydration, in older people.  The risk consequent on that lack of planning is that the resident becomes dehydrated, which either will cause symptoms which are confused with dementia, or aggravate a dementious state.
Dehydration risk is enhanced when the weather is hot, humid, or both.  Older people are more at risk of dehydration because age brings with it a decreased ability to respond to external temperature changes and a decreased thirst mechanism (ability to feel thirsty).  A bout of diarrhoea will also lead to water loss, and must be compensated for.
For many older people with dementia, lack of recognition of the vessel being used to administer water can be a problem.  If the vessel is unfamiliar, for example a specialised feeding cup, or a non-spill cup, it is probable that the person with dementia will not associate the shape with water, and not use the vessel even when thirsty.   It is therefore important in the area of hydration, as with dementia care in general, to stick to routines and familiar objects and surroundings.  A non-spill cup may sound a good idea to a carer, but may well aggravate the problem.
To avoid dehydration, obviously intake of water is critical.  An older person is usually said to need about 2 to 3 pints of water a day, or 6 tea cups.   However this does not need to be wholly or even predominantly in the form of liquid water.  The body does not differentiate between liquid water intake and the intake of water as an element in solid foodstuffs.  Many foods contain a high proportion of water, therefore ensuring a high intake of those foods can go at least part way to providing adequate water intake.  Food with high water content includes:
% water
Apples (raw)
Applesauce (canned, sweetened)
Apricots (raw)
Apricots (canned)
Asparagus (cooked)
Avocados (raw)
Bananas (raw)
Bell Peppers (raw)
Blackberries (raw)
Blueberries (raw)
Broccoli (cooked)
Broccoli (flower clusters, raw)
Cabbage (raw)
Cantaloupe (raw)
Carrots (raw)
Cauliflower (raw)
Cauliflower (cooked)
Celery (raw)
Cherries (raw)
Corn (1 ear, cooked)
Cucumbers (raw)
Grapefruit (pink or red, raw)
Grapes (raw)
Honeydew Melon (raw)
Kiwi fruit (raw)
Lettuce (raw)
Mangoes (raw)
Nectarines (raw)
Olives (ripe, canned)
Oranges (raw)
Peaches (raw)
Peaches (canned)
Pears (raw)
Pears (canned)
Plums (raw)
Potato (baked)

Raspberries (raw)
Strawberries (raw)
Tangerines (raw)
Tomatoes (raw)
Watermelons (raw)
Incorporating ice chips, iced lollys, juice bars, gelatin, ice cream, soup, broth, fruit and vegetable juices, lemonade and flavoured water to incorporate liquids into the diet will also help water intake for those older people who have problems in taking water in directly.
Alcoholic and caffeine bearing drinks have a diuretic effect i.e. they can aggravate or initiate dehydration, and should be avoided.  In a care setting, alcohol is likely to be controlled and not an issue, but serious consideration must be given to using only caffeine free tea and coffee as these are often seen as the most popular ways of offering water, especially by untrained and unaware carers.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Fifteen Minutes of Care

There has been a lot in the news recently about the state of residential care homes, with some appalling stories of abuse and neglect, and yet most of the focus in adult health and social care policy is about encouraging care at home, not in a home.
So how do we monitor what is happening when vulnerable people receive care at home?  Not very well at all if you listen to a rather tense exchange between MPs on the Health Committee and the care industry regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
This follows on from disturbing findings from the Equality and Human Rights Commission who are conducting a major inquiry into care at home for older people which is due to report in November.

Health Select Committee
So back to the questioning of the Care Quality Commission on the 28th June by the Parliamentary health committee who were taking evidence from a number of health and social care regulators.
To get the full flavour of the cross-questioning it is worth looking at the VIDEO of the committee proceedings. What is reproduced here is some of the transcript of the exchanges. The full transcript can be found on the UK Parliament Website.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Inquiry into regulation of care for older people

Social Care Alba is always looking for ways to reflect the views of service users, carers and staff.  We have recently made our submission to the Health and Sport Committee inquiry into regulation of older people.  If you would like to contribute to the inquiry from your own personal experience of from those closest to you then the information below may help.


Call for evidence

The Health and Sport Committee will undertake a short inquiry into the regulation of care for older people. The inquiry will focus on addressing one key question:

Does the regulatory system ensure care services for older people are providing good quality and appropriate care?

To inform the inquiry, the Committee is seeking views on the following questions:

  1. Can we be confident that the regulatory system is picking up on care services where the quality of care is poor? 
  2. Are there any particular weaknesses in the current system? 
  3. Does the system adequately take into account the views of service users? 
  4. Does the registration and regulatory system provide an appropriate basis for the regulation, inspection and enforcement of integrated social and NHS care in the community?

The closing date for written submissions is Wednesday 24 August 2011. Owing to the timescale required to process and analyse evidence, late submissions will only be accepted with the advance agreement of the clerk to the committee. Responses should be no more than four sides of A4 in length. We welcome written evidence in English, Gaelic or any other language.

Responses should be sent, where possible, electronically in Word format to the following address:


You may also make hard copy written submissions to:

Health and Sport Committee
Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP

What happens next?

The Committee will consider all submissions received and identify issues emerging from the evidence which it wishes to investigate further through oral evidence sessions.  A list of organisations and individuals participating in oral evidence sessions will be published on the Committee agenda papers in advance of the relevant meeting.

Should you require alternative formats of this document or further information or assistance in making a written submission to the Committee, please do not hesitate to contact the Clerking team (0131 348 5410).

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

An insiders perspective of Southern Cross

Before starting Social Care Alba, I worked as a Manager with the Care Commission for 9 years.  Over that time I led a team of Officers who regulated some Southern Cross care homes.  I am often asked, was the writing on the wall for Southern Cross, and my answer is always NO.  It is true that a number of Southern Cross care homes had performed poorly over a long period.  For those that are interested just search for Southern Cross inspection reports on www.scswis.com

The main areas which required improvement being the number and quality of staff within homes, and their detrimental effect upon care and support.  However, hard work on the part of Care Commission staff did see improvements, even if this was sometimes by means of enforcement.

So are its financial difficulties responsible for its poor performance?  NO, whilst some things do cost money, such as employing staff, the quality of their work does not.  We need to focus on one simple question:


You decide, what quality of service are you willing to accept?  Then take a look at other providers grades, you may be shocked.  Southern Cross is by no means unique, the quality of care provision across the country varies considerably.  Whilst there are some excellent innovative providers from the private, voluntary and local authority sectors there are equally some very poor services.

I am proud of the contribution I and my colleagues made to improve care in Scotland, and now I hope to do even more with Social Care Alba.  Not everything needs to be a bad news story, there are lots of people just like you and me that are working to make things better. Give us your support and together we can have a National Care Service to be proud of.

For more info visit www.Social-Care.org

Monday, 18 April 2011

International Children's Games 2011

We are happy to announce our official support of the International Children's Games 2011. These will be held in Lanarkshire in August and will see children from 80 different countries competing in a variety of sporting events.