Friday, 27 September 2013

Flu Vaccine

It is that time of year again when we are being encouraged to get a Flu Vaccine   But what exactly is it and should you get one?

What is Flu?

Flu vaccination by injection, commonly known as the 'flu jab' is available every year on the NHS to protect adults (and some children) at risk of flu and its complications.
Flu can be unpleasant, but if you are otherwise healthy it will usually clear up on its own within a week.
However, flu can be more severe in certain people such as:
  • anyone over the age of 65 
  • pregnant women
  • children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or respiratory disease)
  • children and adults with weakened immune systems
Anyone in these risk groups is more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia (a lung infection), so it's recommended that they have a flu vaccine every year to protect them. 
The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS as an annual injection to:
  • adults over the age of 18 at risk of flu (including everyone over 65)
  • children aged six months to two years at risk of flu
Find out more about who should have the flu jab.

Flu nasal spray vaccination

The flu vaccine is given as an annual nasal spray to:
  • children aged two to 18 years at risk of flu
  • healthy children aged two and three years
Read more about the flu nasal spray for children.

How the flu jab works

Studies have shown that the flu jab definitely works and will help prevent you getting the flu. However, it won't stop all flu virus's and the level of protection may vary between people, so it's not a 100% guarantee that you'll be flu-free.
Over time, protection from the injected flu vaccine gradually decreases and flu strains often change. So, new flu vaccines are produced each year which is why people advised to have the flu jab need it every year too.
Read more about how the flu jab works.

Flu jab side effects

Serious side effects of the injected flu vaccine are very rare. You may have a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days after having the jab, and your arm may be a bit sore where you were injected.
Read more about the side effects of the flu jab.

When to have a flu jab

The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from the beginning of October to early November, but don't worry if you've missed it, you can have the vaccine later in winter if there are stocks left.

The flu jab for 2013/14

Each year, the viruses that are most likely to cause flu are identified in advance and vaccines are made to match them as closely as possible. The vaccines are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The 2013/14 vaccine protects against three types of flu virus. This year’s flu jab protects against:
  • H1N1 – the strain of flu that caused the swine flu pandemic in 2009
  • H3N2 – a strain of flu that can infect birds and mammals and was active in 2011
  • B/Massachusetts/2 – a strain of flu that was active in 2012

Is there anyone who shouldn't have the flu jab?

Most adults can have the injected flu vaccine, but you should avoid it if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu jab in the past.

You can find out more by reading the answers to the most common questions that people have about the flu vaccine.

Reproduced with thanks to NHS Choices.

Stephen Wilson - Director

Friday, 20 September 2013

Learn More About - Occupational Therapy

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy (OT) Is a client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and wellbeing through occupation. It is the use of treatments to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of people with a physical, mental or developmental condition.

Occupational therapy is a practice that places a premium on the progress towards the client’s goals.

Occupational therapy interventions focus on adapting the environment, modifying the task, teaching the skill, and educating the client/family in order to increase participation in and performance of daily activities, particularly those that are meaningful to the client.

What does an Occupational Therapist Do?

An OT creates individual treatment programmes to help people of all ages – babies, children, adults and older people to carry out activities they need or want to do, but are prevented from doing so as a result of physical or mental illness, disability, or the effects of ageing.

Activities can include the necessities of daily living such as getting dressed, preparing a meal and going to work, or simply continuing with a favourite hobby. Occupational therapists will work with individuals to help them to find alternative ways to carry on with activities to enable them to live in their way, more confident, more independent and productive lives.

Over one-third of occupational therapy practitioners work with older adults, when an elderly person is affected by illness, accident, injury, disability, or a mental health condition, providing advice on how to undertake daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating and participating in a favourite hobby, This may incluide education, exercise, and rehabilitation techniques that encourage relearning of fine motor skills, improvement of basic motor skills, strength, and dexterity. Assessing and recommending equipment such as mobility aids, wheelchairs and artificial limbs and, if needed, advise on special devices to help around the home.
Occupational Therapy in Care at Home?
The role of an Occupational Therapist and personal assitants is to help service users to maintain independence in self-care and mobility, enhance their daily routine and enjoy an active life in their home.

The occupational tharapist provides:

·         Advice on use of space and equipment, such as seating.
·         Strategies to prevent falls and manage risk.
·         Help to manage unusual behaviours, such as restlessness and lack of inhibition.
·         To ensure a person-centred approach to care and outcomes that result in the improved wellbeing of service users.
Advice on Daily Activities.
Is important to remember to take a person-centred approach. This means listening to the service users, respecting their choices and preferences, and understanding their needs. we will work with them and their family members to find solutions to help with those everyday activities that have become difficult.

  •          Helping to develop a routine that improves their quality of life.
  •          Proposing ideas and using equipment to support service users to carry out activities that they enjoy or want to do.
  •          Finding solutions to difficulties service users may have with communication, their memory or the environment.


Equipment and Mobility Aids
The type and amount of equipment needed will vary according to the specific needs of service users.  When providing equipment, providers should consider:
·         The needs of the individual – helping to maintain, wherever possible, independence.
·         The safety of the individual and staff.

Using the right, well-maintained equipment operated by trained staff can help prevent accidents and reduce the personal and financial costs.

Moving and Handling
Moving and Handling can be defined as any transporting or supporting of a load, including lifting, putting down, pushing and pulling, carrying or moving, by hand or bodily force.

It could involve one or more staff, with the service users we can make use of equipment as:

  •          Hoists and slings
  •          Slide Sheets
  •          Turntables
  •          Transfer boards

 It's essential that you know about safe moving and handling so you don't hurt yourself or them.
Continence Promotion and Personal Hygiene
Keeping clean is essential for good health. Poor hygiene can cause skin complaints, unpleasant smells and bacterial or parasitic infections. Some of the equipment we can use to help service users to have a save and comfortable personal hygiene are:

  •            Commodes
  •            Shower Commodes chair
  •           Shower seats
  •           Bath seats

Before starting make sure that:

 ·         The floor is not slippery (dry it if necessary),
 ·         The room is a comfortable temperature,
 ·         The water is comfortably warm (older people particularly feel the cold, so bear this in mind when adjusting the temperature),
·         The locks are removed from the door (the person you care for may want privacy, but in an emergency you will need to get into the bathroom), and
·         You look out for your own safety, for example by making sure you can manage if you have to lift the person in and out of the bath.

For most people, using the toilet and personal hygiene is a very private activity. When helping someone be sensitive and help maintain their dignity.
Mobility Aids
Mobility means different things to different people.  For some people, mobility is being able to go out when they want to and where they want to.  For others is being able to get from one place to another by any means to maintain their independence.

Some of the mobility aids used are:

  •        Walking frames
  •        Walking trolleys
  •        Walking sticks
  •        Crutches
  •        Wheelchairs

Maintaining mobility is vital as people grow older, it can make the difference between an active old age and one spent sitting in a chair or shuffling around. It is important that you check with the service users what mobility means for them.

Maintaining mobility doesn’t have to means a specially designed exercise programme, just remaining active will help, moving around the house, preparing a meal with supervison, or taking a walk are all valid forms of exercises, as a personal care you must to encourage service users to try to maintain. Maintaining their mobility can also help people to maintain their independence.
Cushions and Pressure Relief
 Pressure ulcers are a complex health problem arising from many interrelated factors. There are a range of special mattresses and cushions that can relieve pressure on vulnerable parts of the body.

The care team will discuss the types of mattresses and cushions most suitable for the service users.

Those thought to be at risk of developing pressure ulcers, or who have pre-existing grade one or two pressure ulcers, usually benefit from a specially designed foam mattress, which relieves the pressure on their body.  People with a grade three or four pressure ulcer will require a more sophisticated mattress or bed system.  For example, there are mattresses that can be connected to a constant flow of air, which is automatically regulated to reduce pressure as and when required. These some of them:

  •           Cushions
  •      Pressure relief
  •          Positioning aids
  •          Mattresses and mattress overlays

It is important to avoid putting pressure on areas that are vulnerable to pressure ulcers or where pressure ulcers have already formed.  Moving and regularly changing service users position helps prevent pressure ulcers developing and relieves the pressure on the ulcers that have developed.

To draw up a "repositioning timetable", which states how often service users need to be moved helps to avoid putting any vulnerable areas of skin under pressure whenever possible.  For some people, this may be as often as once every 15 minutes.  Others may need to be moved only once every two hours.
Dealing with Challenging Behaviour
Challenging behaviour is often seen in people with conditions that affect communication and the brain, such as learning disabilities or dementia.

A person’s behaviour can be defined as “challenging” if it puts them or those around them, (such as their carer), at risk or leads to poorer quality of life.  It can also impact on their ability to join in everyday activities. Challenging behaviour can include aggression, self-harm, destructiveness and disruptiveness.

Communication is the main way we interact and express our needs, likes and dislikes.  If communication is a problem then it can be very frustrating for the person involved and may result in challenging behaviour.  If this behaviour leads to a desired outcome, it may be repeated again and again.

As a carer, try to understand why the service user you look after is behaving in this way.  For example, they might feel anxious or bored, or in pain.

If you can recognise the early warning signs, you may be able to prevent behavioural outbursts.  For example, if being in a large group of people makes the service user you care for feel anxious and makes them become agitated, you could arrange for them to be in a smaller group or have one-to-one support.

Try to find out what the person is aiming for in their challenging behaviour.  Do they crave one-to-one attention, or do they want to be removed from a situation they find difficult?  Keep a record of the person’s behaviour to see if there are any patterns.  This lets us know what situations or people trigger the behaviour, what the early warning signs are, and what happens after the event.

If a reason for the behaviour can be established then their needs could be met in an alternative way in order to prevent them resorting to challenging behaviour.

Any techniques you try must be followed consistently by all those involved in the care of the person you look after. If everyone does this, it will help the individual involved to understand what's expected of them.
Maintaining a Safe Work Environment
In our workplace, we have a responsibility to report any unsafe situation to our clients and managers.  It is important that you develop an awareness of health and safety risk and that you are always aware of any risk in any situation you are in. If you get into the habit of making a mental checklist, you will find that is helps.

An example of a safety checklist:


Are they dry?
Carpets and rugs
Are they worn or curled at the edges?
Doorways and corridors
Are they clear of obstacles?
Electrical flexes
Are they trailing?

Are the brakes on and are they high enough?
Electrical or gas appliances
Are they worn and have they been serviced?
Lifting equipment
Is it worn or damaged?
Mobility aids
Are they worn or damaged?
Cleaning materials & chemicals.
Are they correctly labelled?
Are they leaking or damaged?
Waste disposal equipment
Is it faulty?

Visitors to the building
Should they be there?
Handling procedures
Have they been assessed for risk?
Have police been called?
Violent and aggressive behaviour
Has it been dealt with?

Getting more information
I hope you have found this introduction to Occupational Therapy useful.  You can find more information from the British Association of Occupational Therapists HERE.

General Healthcare Guidance can be found from the SCSWIS website here HERE

 Staff and service users can contact me for more advice or follow me on the Blog and Forum.

Johanna Garcia

Team Leader and Professional Advisor – Occupational 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Recruitment and Retention

"Recruitment and selection is the process of identifying the need for a job, defining the requirements of the position and the job holder, advertising the position and choosing the most appropriate person for the job. Retention means ensuring that once the best person has been recruited, they stay with the business and are not “poached” by rival companies." (Riley,J.2012)

We are always looking for staff, service users and families to get involved in the recruitment, assessment and retention of staff.  Should you wish to get more involved, or have a good idea you wish to pass on, then please let us know.

Social Care Alba are currently recruiting both internally and externally and in the past weeks we have seen the introduction of many new recruits. In addition, current staff members have been given the opportunity to become team leaders, thus broadening their skill sets. Both current and newly appointed team leaders will continue to offer their knowledge, support and guidance to their colleagues.

Our current staff members who have a working knowledge of their colleagues, clients and the everyday running of the company are invaluable to the continued success of Social Care Alba. Equally important is the recruitment of new staff members, who come to our growing team with their own varied skills and experiences.

The importance of recruitment and selection.

Recruiting staff is a very important for the running of every company. It is an essential process and it pays to do it properly from the beginning. SCA is well aware of the importance of "getting it right" at the recruitment stage. The company needs to be sure of a candidate's ability to work well within a team for the continued security and confidence of existing staff and service users.  When organisations choose the right candidates for the job, train them well and treat them appropriately, these people not only produce good results but also tend to stay with the organisation long term. Under these circumstances, the organisation's initial and on-going investment in them is well rewarded.

Advertising the job.

Job advertisements form an important part of the recruitment process. SCA uses various means to communicate job vacancies including but not limited to:

·         Job Centres
·         Newspapers
·         The Internet
·         Local colleges

We also use external web portals, from which people can apply directly to our office. This offer candidates the opportunity to learn more about the company via our website and allows the popularity of the portal to be monitored.

Although we recognise the importance of recruitment, we also need to remember the importance of retention. Retention of staff members shows that our company is a happy place to work. Over the past few months the team have been extremely busy in both the field and office .  This doesn't mean that we will neglect the fun aspects of working within such a good team. In the coming weeks there will be some opportunities to have fun.  In past years, staff members have used different holidays to take the opportunity to put some fun and laughter into their work day. As Halloween is creeping up on us, use it as an excuse to have some fun. Silly costumes will give our clients a giggle and it will give the team a chance to take incriminating photos, which can come in useful when a shift needs to be swapped J

As we work shifts, it makes it harder for the whole team to be in one place at one time. Nevertheless,  we are looking for ideas and suggestions for social activities for our staff members, so that we can get back to enjoying ourselves together!

Team building helps better communication between the staff and also between the staff and management. Good communication is essential for strong professional relationships, understanding and co-operation, which are all reflected in the quality of our work. Team building helps staff motivation and builds trust, thereby ensuring better productivity. (Tintin, 2011)

We have recently seen the second quarter of our special recognition award nominations scheme. This award is given for the work observed by clients, management and your peers and is a recognition that is an honour to receive. The award lets the staff members see that the work that is being carried out is both seen and appreciated by the management and your fellow staff members. An award of this nature is not only something to be proud of; it is something that all staff members should strive towards getting in the upcoming months (not only for the title but also the lovely plaque you receive). Introducing this award is a way for the company to show its staff members that it recognises and appreciate your ongoing loyalty and hard work. It is also hoped that it will motivate key behaviours including reliability, and self-confidence, which in turn inspires client satisfaction.

If any staff members have any ideas that can help with recruitment and retention within the company please get in contact with us. All (realistic) suggestions are welcome!

Top 10 reasons why happiness is an important part of your work life.

1: Happy people work better with others.
2: Happy people are more creative.
3: Happy people fix problems instead of complaining about them.
4: Happy people have more energy.
5: Happy people are more optimistic.
6: Happy people are more motivated.
7: Happy people get sick less often.
8: Happy people learn faster.
9: Happy people worry less about making mistakes – and consequently make fewer mistakes.
10: Happy people make better decisions.

(Kjerulf, J. 2007)

Caroline Raftis - Team Leader