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Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental health is becoming increasingly important, and that's why Mental Health Awareness Week provides such a wonderful opportunity to educate individuals about mental health conditions, including how to deal with them in your own life, and how to help others feeling their effects.

Mental Health Week is an initiative organised by the Mental Health Foundation aimed at raising awareness about mental health, along with looking into possible causes and treatment options. Since the event started in 2000, it has helped to create more engagement around the subject of mental health, and generated public debates on a variety of topic areas. This year's theme is 'Mindfulness', and aims to teach people about how our actions can change our emotional reaction to different events. By using techniques such as meditation, breathing, and yoga, mindfulness can empower individuals to have more control over their emotions, and their impact on their mental health.

Mental health issues are more common than you may think, with 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem every year in the UK. Indeed, in early stages of dementia or Alzheimer's disease, symptoms often remain unrecognised for a while, hence preventing people affected from getting adequate care services. This is why awareness of these illnesses is crucial, not only in educating friends and families about spotting the symptoms, but in making sure you or your loved ones receive adequate help and support. According to the Mental Health Foundation, the elderly population are also particularly vulnerable, with 1 in 5 experiencing mental health problems while living in the community, and a staggering 2 in 5 experiencing mental health issues while in a care home.

If you want to get involved in Mental Health Awareness Week, there are lots of events going on all over the country - visit the MentalHealth.org.uk site to sign up, receive updates about the initiative, and find out what's happening in your local area.

Receiving health care can be a difficult transition for those who have always lived independent lives, but at Sova Healthcare, we understand just how important mental health is to wellbeing, and that's why our care plans are tailored around individual customers, in order to give them the best quality of life possible. Our flexible approach means we can provide customers with true companionship and friendly assistance to enable them to live the life they've always known, allowing the best possible care experience.

To find out more about our tailored health care packages, please call us on 0800 688 8866, or contact us for more information.

Home Care Services from healthcare providers can be challenging to choose from, especially when you are looking for yourself or a loved one. Not only do you need to make sure that they are able to offer the level of care that you require, but also that they allow you to live in a way which suits your lifestyle. Before signing up to a provider such as Sova Healthcare, it's important that you consider your options, and make sure that what they offer is right for you; consider asking these five questions before making your decision:

1. What is your previous experience?
You need to ascertain whether the provider has experience of caring for someone with similar circumstances to your own. Whether you require specialist services for a particular condition, such as Alzheimer's care services, or more generalised care to assist with aspects of older age, you need to make sure that they understand what you will require and have been able to previously deliver such care successfully to other customers. Sova Healthcare is able to provide a wide range of different care services, which are tailored to your needs, so you're sure to find a package to suit you.

2. What qualifications do your staff have?
A healthcare provider may have some excellent experience under their belt, but if their staff do not have the necessary qualifications and training, then they could be putting you at risk. Make sure that your healthcare provider ensures that all staff are fully qualified and screened prior to recruitment, and that they provide them with regular training, in order to maintain high standards of care. At Sova Healthcare, we take our staff's training and quality very seriously, and ensure that all staff are compliant with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Disclosed Barring Service (DBS), as well as abiding by a confidentiality agreement. We also require staff to take annual training updates to make sure that they have full understanding of basic life support and first aid, as well as other relevant health and safety matters.

3. Who would be looking after me and how will my care be delivered?
Try to find out more about the individual or group of individuals who would be looking after you, and ascertain how your care would be delivered. If you would prefer one-to-one care with a regular member of staff, then make sure your provider is able to offer this. Also, if you will be receiving care in your own home rather than in a care facility, make sure that the availability of their carers meets your requirements. If you need 24 hour care services but their staff can only provide a 12 hour service, then you will need to approach an alternative provider.

4. Can you help me to maintain my lifestyle?
Maintaining your quality of life is one of the most important aspects of receiving healthcare. Without it, you are likely to become depressed, and your well being will suffer as a result, so choosing a provider who can help you to make the most of life and carry on with your favourite pastimes is vital. At Sova Healthcare, we know how incredibly important it is to deliver more than just health services, so we provide companionship care services to not only allow our customers to have a friends as well as a carer, but also to help them to go on day trips and visit family members and loved ones.

5. Is my contract flexible if my circumstances change?
As we all know, health can be unpredictable at times, so it's essential that your provider allows a degree of flexibility with your healthcare plan. Whether you no longer need health care, or need to change your care package down the line, you should always have full control over the service you receive. Your provider should also be able to give you a detailed breakdown of all costs associated with your care up front, along with any payment options, so there aren't any nasty surprises down the line.

We hope that these questions have helped to give you a better understanding of some of the more important aspects of choosing a healthcare service. Sova Healthcare is dedicated to delivering the very highest standards of service with the personal touch that very few other providers can match. If you'd like to find out more about our care services, please visit our FAQ page, give us a call on 0800 688 8866 or contact us for more information.
Alzheimer's

There’s no denying that Alzheimer’s can have a terrible impact on the lives of sufferers and their loved ones, and with diagnosis rates steadily rising, management of the disease is now more important than ever. Currently there is no cure for Alzheimers, but, as its prevalence continues to increase, notably with the aging of the baby boomers generation, research has been stepped up, and it looks as though there might finally be some light at the end of the tunnel.

A new study, published in the journal of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology in February 2015, claims that to have found a way of stopping Alzheimer’s in its tracks, which could lead to the development of a new drug which would have the ability to halt the progression of Alzheimer’s, when taken in the earliest stages of the disease. Alzheimer’s is caused by the formation of plaques in the brain, which hamper nerve cells and interfere with brain function. However, the research revealed that the use of a certain molecule, found naturally in human lungs, can halt this process, and prevent the creation of more plaques.There is still some way to go before this research can be used to develop a drug, but nonetheless, this discovery could lead to a preventative treatment for potentially millions of individuals, allowing them to lead normal lives well into old age.

Another recent study, reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine in March 2015, was conducted by scientists from the University of Queensland, and explored the use of ultrasound to restore brain function in mice with Alzheimer’s. Ultrasound was used to remove the abnormal clumps of brain proteins caused by the disease, and the mice showed a 50% reduction in the amount of plaques following 5-7 weeks’ of treatment, which allowed them to regain lost brain activity. Again this research is in its early stages, but the results on mice were promising, and this will lead to medical trials of the treatment in humans over the next few years. 

Finally, some research from Duke University in North Carolina, published in the Journal of Neuroscience in April 2015, claims to have shed light on the cause of Alzheimer’s which could lead to a whole new wave of treatment options. The study revealed that when Alzheimer’s takes hold, immune cells that normally protect the brain instead start to consume an important brain nutrient called arginine, which leads to the suppression of the immune system. By blocking this process with a drug (DFMO), the team observed that plaques were prevented from forming in the brains of mice, leaving neurological function unaffected.

Currently Alzheimer’s and dementia affect more than 830,000 people in the UK alone, so the ramifications of these discoveries are very far reaching indeed. However, although these results are promising, treatment remains some way off, and even with significant advances in research, it will still be a number of years before any medication will be available to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s.

At Sova Healthcare we know the life changing consequences that this cruel illness can have, and that’s why we’re dedicated to offering a care package which is entirely tailored to you, to help make things a little easier. We will work with you and your loved ones to develop a unique care plan, and we can provide as much, or as little assistance as you require. 

If you’d like to find out more about care available for Alzheimer’s sufferers, please visit our dedicated Alzheimer’s Home Care page, or contact us to talk through your requirements with a friendly member of our team.

Photograph by Bev Sykes.
Old age home care

Choosing the right care option for you or your loved one can be a difficult decision. When we become reliant on assistance from others, it can be hard to imagine how it would be possible to remain in our own homes, but here at Sova Healthcare we believe that every client should have the right to stay in familiar surroundings. Here are five reasons why you should consider home care over a care home:
  1. Surroundings
    One of the main advantages of home care is the fact that you will be staying in an environment that's familiar to you. A change of location can be stressful at the best of times, but it can hit us particularly hard when we are feeling vulnerable or unwell. By staying in your own home you will be surrounded by the people and the things that you know and love best, and your wellbeing is likely to reap the rewards.

  2. Funding
    Surprisingly enough, it is often cheaper to be cared for in your own home than in a care home, as you do not have to pay for accommodation costs on top of your care. You may also be eligible for funding from your local authority for some or all of the expense. You can find out more about available finance options on our Funding page.

  3. Attention
    When you are cared for in your own home, you will have your own dedicated carer. This means that you won't have to worry about competing for attention from busy care home staff, and your needs will be cared for one-on-one by a regular provider who will get to know you and your requirements very closely.

  4. Lifestyle
    Becoming reliant on a carer doesn't mean that life as you know it is over. When you are cared for at home, you are much more likely to be able to retain some independence, and as part of our social companionship service, our carers can even accompany you on trips to visit friends and relatives away from home.

  5. Food
    Mealtimes can be a very personal occasion; everyone has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to food, but unfortunately, care homes are often too busy to cater to individual tastes. When you are cared for at home by one of our highly trained members of staff, you will be able to discuss with your carer what you would like to eat and when you would like to eat it, giving you total control.
Our homes are so much more than bricks and mortar. They have immeasurable sentimental value to us, and by staying in your own home, you can avoid a lot of unwanted upheaval, making the transition into healthcare as smooth as possible.

At Sova Healthcare, we provide more than just healthcare services. Our domiciliary carers can assist with a variety of household chores, including cooking and cleaning, while providing you with assistance for dressing, bathing, medical administration and more. If you would like to find out more about the home care services that Sova can offer you, please visit our care services page, or contact us for more information.
Over one million people have now signed up to The Alzheimer's Society's groundbreaking 'Dementia Friends' initiative.

Dementia Friends

The programme originally launched two years ago, and it aims to educate the general public on what dementia is, how to spot the symptoms, and how to help those suffering from the illness, in order to eradicate the fear and isolation felt by many with the disease. The plan is working towards creating 'dementia friendly communities' with support networks across the country.

Although there are an estimated 720,000 people suffering from dementia in England alone, many have not been diagnosed. Prime Minister David Cameron has called it "one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime", and the government has announced that it will be providing more than £300m to tackle dementia during the next parliament.

If you'd like to sign up to become a Dementia Friend, you can join the initiative here.

Learn how to spot the signs of dementia.

Do you know someone with the following symptoms?

  • Memory loss, especially problems with remembering recent events
  • Increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require organisation and planning
  • Becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
  • Difficulty finding the right words
  • Difficulty with numbers and/or handling money in shops
  • Changes in personality and mood
  • Depression

How can Sova Healthcare help those suffering from dementia?

Dementia can be a very challenging condition to care for. Sufferers, and their friends and family, can be put under a lot of strain, so it is of vital importance that the right help is received. At Sova Healthcare, we understand that every case of dementia is unique, and that it will affect you and your family in different ways. This is why our specialist care package is tailored to individuals, so you can be sure that your personal requirements will be taken into account. Our highly trained and experienced carers will provide compassionate and sensitive care for those with dementia in their own homes, allowing them to retain their independence for as long as possible.

If you would like to find out more about our services, please visit our dementia care page, or contact us for more information.