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There's no denying that more of us are now reaching old age than ever before - while this rise in life expectancy is thanks to excellent advances in medical technology and education, the knock-on effect is an increased strain on the NHS. With the post-war baby boom generation now already beginning to retire, our care system is about to face a strain like never before.


The Integral Foundation has projected that, by 2018, the proportion of over-65s in the UK will have risen by around 2 million, which at current funding levels will mean that spending per patient will have to fall by 9% to cover the increase in demand from this generation. When Simon Stevens, the current Chief Executive of the NHS, joined the organisation in 2014, he admitted that "service pressures are intensifying, and long-standing problems are not going to disappear overnight".

With this reality looming, more and more people will need to look to independent social care or healthcare to support both themselves and elderly relatives and to ensure thorough, high-quality care. While the NHS is undoubtedly a fantastic institution, and the envy of many countries around the world, the reality is that, with increasing demands, it can no longer offer a service which is tailored to its patients. Although NHS funded care homes are available, they are often oversubscribed, and of variable quality.

At Sova Healthcare, we adapt our care to you. We offer a wide variety of different service options, but we always take into account any special needs or requirements you may have in order to provide truly personal care. Our staff are all highly qualified and receive specific training and experience to enable them to perform their job to the high standards that we expect, and our customers deserve.

Although all our services are available privately, funding support is available if you require it. Your local authority may be able to help finance some or all of your care costs - simply contact your social services department to find out more. We are also one of only a handful of healthcare providers to offer an appointeeship service, which allows vulnerable adults and the elderly to receive financial help and guidance to enable them to live independently.

If you'd like to find out more about how Sova Healthcare could help you, or an elderly friend or relative, please get in touch with us today to talk through your requirements, or visit our FAQ page to find out more.
Winter weather

With the cold weather now well and truly upon us, and winter just around the corner, it's normal to feel concerned about your loved ones, particularly any elderly friends or relatives who may be living on their own through these chilly months. Although winter-related mortality fell in 2013/14, there were still over 18,000 preventable deaths in England and Wales alone, with the most vulnerable group being those aged 75 and over. So what can you do to help your loved ones to get through this time safely? 

Check up on them regularly
The most important thing is to keep in contact with them regularly - ideally you should visit them in person, but if this is not practical, a daily phone call to check in with them and make sure that they have everything they need will help give you peace of mind, as well as bringing them the comfort of knowing that someone is looking out for them. 

Make sure they stay warm safely 
Speak to them about their heating and make sure their thermostat is set to an adequate temperature. It should be around 21oC in living rooms; bedrooms can go down to 18oC, but electric blankets or hot water bottles can also be used to boost temperature. You should also make sure that they have sufficient winter clothing and blankets. If you have any concern regarding their heating system, arrange for a qualified engineer to assess it. If they use gas, make sure that a carbon monoxide alarm has been fitted and that they know to leave air vents unblocked. 

If you have any concern about how your loved one will pay for heating during the winter, you can find out about the help available for winter fuel payments at Age UK.

Encourage them to stay healthy
Make sure your loved ones eat well by incorporating a variety of fruit and vegetables into their diet, and ensure that they have at least one hot meal per day. If they cook for themselves, make sure that their cupboards and freezer are well stocked in case it is too difficult for them to get to the shops during very cold spells. Encourage them to take advantage of government health initiatives such as the flu vaccine, free to anyone over 65, as well as those with underlying health conditions and weak immune systems.

Help them to avoid accidents
When ice or snow cover roads and pavements, accidents are far more likely to happen, and as elderly people are far more vulnerable to injury than younger adults, the repercussions of a slip or fall can be far more serious. If your loved one is likely to venture out in inclement weather, ask them whether you or another volunteer can run their errands for them, or accompany them on their outing. You can also assist by gritting the path and driveway surrounding their property and offer to shovel snow for them. If your loved one usually drives, suggest that they leave the car at home until the weather improves, and offer help and assistance where you can.

How Sova Healthcare can help
We know that as much as you care about your loved ones, it is not always practical to care for them, particularly if you live far away or work full time. We offer an extensive range of flexible care options, which are tailored to you, so we can offer as much or as little support as you require, allowing you to rest easy, safe in the knowledge that your loved ones are being looked after. If you’d like to find out more about how Sova Healthcare can help you, please get in touch with us today.
At Sova we are immensely proud of our staff. A service is only as a good as the people who carry it out, and that’s why we pride ourselves on offering our service users the very best care professionals. In this new series we’re exploring some of the personal stories behind our care service, and finding out what drives our staff to do such a fantastic job.


What is your full name and job title?
Vicki Skerritt, Child and Adult Care Worker

What attracted you to this line of work? 
Early in my working life, I witnessed first-hand the professionalism, commitment and skills required to be a carer, which inspired me to pursue my career in care services. It is also a flexible job that fits in around your family life, which I really value.

What do you love most about being a carer?
Being a carer is very rewarding and gives great job satisfaction. Everyday you face new challenges, and no two days are ever the same, as you are always learning new things - it's a lifelong learning curve!

How many years have you been working in this field, and what is the most important thing that you've learned?
I have worked for the NHS and as a carer for over 10 years. The most important thing I’ve learned is the value of being a really good listener. I've also discovered that even the smallest help can mean so much to someone, and also that, to truly care for someone, you must treat them as an individual and adapt to their needs

What is your most treasured memory or experience from your career? 
My most treasured memory is from an elderly lady I looked after, she always made me laugh as she had a wonderful sense of humour, and I really enjoyed listening to all of her life stories. One of her quotes still stays with me: "kindness can transform someone's dark moments with a blaze of light, you'll never know how much your caring matters".

What would your advice be for someone considering using a care service, either for themselves or for a loved one?
If you are considering using a care service, be sure to do plenty of research first. When you speak to a care provider, clearly explain what your needs are, and make sure that they can offer the full scale of care that you require. Take your time to review your options and ensure that you make the best decisions for your needs. Choosing a carer is a very personal process, so don’t be afraid to say if something isn’t right for you. If you know a carer, or someone that has been cared for, have a chat with them to find out more about their experience, and ask as many questions as you can.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career as a carer? 
If you want a career where you can make a real difference, then care is for you. For those just starting out my advice is to give the job time - it can feel very overwhelming to begin with, but don’t forget just how important your work is. Helping someone is such a rewarding and fulfilling experience. 

If you’d like to find out more about what a care service can offer for you, please get in touch with Sova Healthcare today.

NHS logo

An NHS tax that was proposed by the Liberal Democrats has been supported by senior Labour politicians as a solution to the current crisis in health care funding. With a £30bn black hole in NHS finances forecast for the next 5 years, there is a general consensus among the two parties that a radical shake-up is needed.

Health care service budgets have so far been ring-fenced from cuts, though the majority of services have relied more heavily on efficiency in saving money.

However, a recent report by the King Fund has estimated that a quarter of NHS trusts are already running in the red, and with an ever-growing population, this may create even more stress on  care services. With current salary freezes, management cuts, and reductions in the prices paid to hospitals, the report claims that standard means of cost reduction have almost been exhausted.

Former coalition Health Minister Paul Burstow is just one of the senior Liberal Democrats believed to be in favor of the proposed tax, along with current Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb. Both agree that this proposal is the best way to secure the NHS’s future.

In an essay to be published by the Social Market Foundation as part of an upcoming report for the NHS, Burstow states that further efficiency savings are imperative and increased funding is required urgently. He writes: "By 2021, the NHS will be looking at a £30bn black hole. Social care is on track for a £7bn shortfall.”

The current Education Minister David Laws, who is in charge of drawing up the Liberal Democrat manifesto, is understood to be examining the proposal.