Tag Archives: Care UK


I have made it quite apparent that not only do I enjoy gardening but I am advocating it as an important health benefit both physically and mentally. Many people are not fortunate to have a garden and don’t even have a balcony or chance to grow plants. However, during these summer months there is a chance to be able to not only visit public gardens but also private gardens which open for public viewing and at the same time raise money for a selection of important charities.

I have been aware of The National Gardens Scheme in Britain for many years and enjoyed visiting many private gardens with the  help of ‘The Yellow Book’ which has made its appearance in my home from time to time and contains when and where these gardens are open and is available to purchase from ‘Smiths’ bookshop of you can refer to the website


You may be wondering what this all has to do with District nurses now often named community nurses. Before I reveal that, I must digress to declare my admiration for these nurses who have to be resourceful, broadminded, diplomatic and adaptable to any situation.  They have certainly made a significant  impact on my career as a GP.  It was district nurses in my early career as a GP who enlightened me into the necessity  of holistic care of an ill person at home.

To give just one example, I remember not long after I started at the practice in Ealing being called to see a patient, Tom who was a middle aged man, formerly a ballet dancer. When I arrived the door was ajar and as I tentatively opened the door I was greeted by a swarm of flies and an intense stench of faeces. I called out to give me an idea of where I was to go and Tom summoned me to a large room at the end of the hallway. He was lying semi-naked propped up in a bed covered in newspapers  to absorb his double incontinence and was struggling to eat his meals on wheels accompanied by a can of Lager and joined by a couple of friends . He was in good spirits, somewhat confused as he was suffering Korsakov Syndrome an infliction secondary to long term alcohol abuse and although he did not warrant an acute hospital  admission, clearly he needed sorting out. Following my visit I contacted the district nurses and within 24hrs when I revisited Tom, I arrived at a flat now smelling sweet and a clean,tidy, almost unrecognisable patient sitting in a chair by the bed eating his dinner, listening to some music. The ‘fairies’ had visited and had transformed the scene in a most remarkable way – the district nurses had managed the situation.

It was the National Garden Scheme, which was founded  in 1927 in order to raise money for a national voluntary organisation which would recruit, train, and support  ‘District’ nurses, who would nurse patients in their  homes in deprived areas throughout the country.

The idea of District  nurses had originated in 1859 when William Rathbone, a Liverpool merchant, employed a nurse to care for his wife at home. After his wife’s death, Rathbone kept the nurse on to help poor people in the neighbourhood. Later, Rathbone raised funds for the recruitment, training and employment of nurses to go into the deprived areas of the city. Based on this idea in the latter half of the 19th century ‘District’ nursing spread throughout the country and became  a national voluntary organisation supported by Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale.

In 1926 the organisation decided to raise a special fund in memory of their patron, Queen Alexandra, who had recently died. For much of the 20th Century, district nurses were usually unmarried women who lived in nurses’ homes provided by local nursing associations all over the country.The fund would pay for training and would also support nurses who were retiring. The Institute became known as ‘The Queen’s Institute of District Nursing and  trained district nurses until the 1960s, in a model that was copied across the world. This model of care was instrumental in developing a comprehensive, highly-skilled service in the UK that meets the needs of millions of people every year.


In 1926 a council member, Miss Elsie Wagg, came up with the idea of raising money for charity through the nation’s obsession with gardening, by asking people to open their gardens to visitors and charging a modest entry fee that would be donated. The following year The National Gardens Scheme was founded. Individuals were asked to open up their gardens for ‘a shilling a head’. In the first year 609 gardens raised over £8,000. A year later, the district nursing organisation became officially named  The Queen’s Nursing Institute.

Subsequently, a few years later Countrylife produced the ‘ Yellow Book’ and there were 1,000 gardens listed.

After the Second World War, the National Health Service took on the District Nursing Service, but money was still needed to care for retired nurses and invest in training. The National Gardens Scheme offered to donate funding to the National Trust to restore and preserve important gardens. In return, the National Trust opened many of its most prestigious gardens for the NGS.

The NGS , although it no longer funds District Nurses per se it now acts as a beneficiary for Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Help the Hospices and (now Carers Trust) and also benefits a different annual ‘guest’ charity chosen from recommendations from NGS volunteers.

Since its foundation, the National Gardens Scheme has donated over £45 million to its beneficiary charities, of which nearly £23 million has been donated within the last ten years. The National Gardens Scheme’s commitment to nursing and caring remains constant, and the charity continues to grow and flourish.

Jardins Ouverts 

When I arrived this year in France I was intrigued to hear that the scheme had arrived in this Country starting with 4 gardens in one Departement 3 years ago and is expanding fast by 100 gardens each year. Some enterprising English migrants had decided to start the Jardins Ouverts scheme along similar lines to the NGS. An ex-nurse friend and another friend as well as other people in the area had decided to open their gardens this year and introduce the French in the Perigord to the idea of opening your own garden to raise money for charity.

The chosen charity for Jardins Ouverts for 2015 is:-

À Chacun son Everest is a French charity, founded by Dr Christine Janin, the first French woman to summit Everest.


  • It recognises the similarity between the supreme test of climbing the world’s highest mountain and the challenge facing young people with cancer or leukaemia:
  • the sense of achievement when the goal has been reached;
  • the confidence that this brings;
  • the opportunity to share their hopes and fears with children in a similar situation
  • the realisation of innate personal qualities such as courage, will-power, hope and determination.

They decided to support A Chacun son Everest for several reasons: there can be few things worse for a child and his/her family than to be told that s/he has cancer or leukaemia. They were also impressed by their very personal responses to their enquiries and ware now building a very positive relationship with this organisation.

We set off on one of those days which looked totally unpredictable – the sort of day that you wear a sun hat with a raincoat . I used to be amused by one of my patients who would come to surgery dressed like this – I now understand why. The blue sky made a  perfect back cloth  to the  soft white fluffy cotton wool clouds creeping high above with the occasional ones showing a tinge grey potentially threatening to open up to rain. In good determined British style,  whatever the weather we were to proceed not to let our friends down and with grim resolve to enjoy the day. We drove through the beautiful Dordogne countryside past woodland glades causing  the sunlight to dazzle and dance and fields bursting with seedlings teasing the eye  by not revealing whether they would become sunflowers or maize; the fields frequently punctuated with majestic walnut trees either in rows or alone registering their supremecy in this countryside. Moreover, along the roadside there was a plethora of wild flowers, Queen Ann’s lace, wild sage, Ox-eye daisies,  greater and lesser stitch work, campions and  outcrops of wild orchids just to name a few. We didn’t need to go to a Jardins Ouverts we were admiring the country garden just by venturing into this wide open space.

We arrived at the entrance of the first garden labelled accordingly by a sign showing the way and drove up a track for almost 1 km through a wooded area until the house and garden were revealed. The man at the desk took our money 5€ for both gardens  and a plant stall selling donated plants and then pointed us in the right direction. By now the sun was shining brilliantly enough to make us feel happy enough to leave our wet weather attire in the car. We strolled around the garden admiring the clematis concealing old sheds and aged trees, hostas, roses, foxgloves, violas, budding peonies and countless familiar shrubs and perennials all had been tended carefully and prepared for this event.


It would not be complete without the inevitable chat with fellow visitors over a cup of tea and cake served by the fascinated French children, who had come along to witness this interesting event.

We then left and after a short drive appeared at our next destination, an old presbytery where the garden had been revived including the nurturing of a herb garden,


There was an aged Medlar tree, which bears the fruit that is eaten just before it  becomes rotten, bletted and is frequently mentioned by Shakespeare and Chaucer when they write about unfaithful women.
The house was in the shadow of the Church and there was an ancient well which was adorned by roses and irises in full bloom.


Moreover,  hidden away an array of various chickens and bantams all individually named strutting around there territory clearly dominated by the new arrival ‘Lady Gaga’

In the ponds, more recently created goldfish  darted” under the Lily pads and the perfect water lily flowers were resplendent as the water sparkled  in the sun as the water glistened as the surrounding shrubs and flowers swayed gently in the soft warm breeze.



My friend had jested the night before that she had sent her husband around with a pair of scissors to deadhead some of the flowers and trim any unwanted buttercups which were found peeping amongst the perennials – he had certainly done a good job. Chelsea Flower Show had arrived in the Dordogne! After another chat with visitors French and English, a cup of tea  under the lime tree and a purchase at the pop up jams and chutney stall  we drove back with a clearer blue sky along twisting country roads past the tapestry of the glorious Dordogne countryside.

We arrived home refreshed, inspired with fresh eggs and homemade spicy mango chutney and having had a delightful day out . These gardens had been revived and  nurtured by people who had seen adversity in their lives but had pluckily exercised their energies into something,  which not only can they be proud of but have shown the generosity of spirit to share with others and raise money for a worthy cause.

I wanted to share this experience  As may be someone reading this might be inspired to share their garden and raise money for these worthwhile caring charities  as well as share their garden or allotment  with others who don’t have one of their own.

If you are in France this summer there may be a ‘Jardins Ouverts’ near where you are going : to find out view

The website

When I referred to the NGS website( there is a garden open in Hanwell this weekend so perhaps you can visit this newly joined garden to be inspired and support Tony and Eddy. Details below:-



Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Training and Advice


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Are re you a carer?

If you look after your partner, or a relative or friend who is ill or disabled, you are a carer, even if you don’t think of yourself that way.

There are many ways that you might care for someone.

For instance you might:

  • be on hand 24 hours a day to provide care
  • arrange hospital appointments for someone
  • drop round each day to keep someone company or cook their dinner
  • visit a relative who lives far away once a month to see how they’re doing.
  • Whether you’ve cared for the person for a long time, are temporarily helping them (for example, while they recuperate from an operation), or have just become a carer, take time to review your options and find out what support is available to you.

To establish your rights as a carer refer to  Age UK on the following link

The Care Act comes into force in May 2015. It changes the way the social care system will work in the future.

You’ve probably heard about the biggest change: a care cap that means no-one will spend more than £72,000 of their own money on their care needs.

If you need care, or look after someone who does, you’ll need to know how care is changing.


Ways it may affect you from April 2015:

  • You will have a right to a free needs assessment from your council, even if it thinks your finances are too high or your needs are too low to qualify for help.
  • All councils will use a new national eligibility criteria to decide whether someone can get help from them.
  • If you get social care support, you will now have a right to request a personal budget if you’re not offered one. This is a summary of how much the council thinks your care should cost. This might be useful if you want to pay for your own care. This will become more important when you have a care account from April 2016 (see below).
  • If your needs assessment shows you don’t qualify for help from the council, they must advise you how the care system works and how to pay for your own care. So if you just need a hand with housework, for example, the council should assist you in finding this.
  • You can defer selling your home to pay your care fees until after your death.
  • If you’re paying for your own care, you can ask the council to arrange your services for you. It can only charge you as much as someone whose care they are funding.
  • If you’re a carer, you have a legal right to a care assessment from the local council. You can also get support services if you qualify for them.
  • If you find it difficult to communicate or to understand the issues being discussed, the council must provide an advocate to help you when discussing your care. They will represent your interests if you don’t have a friend or relative who can help
  • The council must provide preventative services that could reduce or delay your need for care. For example, intermediate care at home after a hospital stay could help keep you independent for longer.

Ways it may affect you from April 2016:

  • It becomes even more important to get a needs assessment, as the council will then set you up with a care account. This tracks the amount of money spent on your eligible care needs. The word ‘eligible’ is important as it only includes the needs covered by your assessment. So if you decide to hire a cleaner but the needs assessment doesn’t say you need this help, the cost of that won’t be included.
  • There will be a cap on how much you have to spend on your care needs. Anything you or the council spend on your eligible needs will be added up in your care account. Once it reaches £72,000, the council will pay for all your eligible needs. This excludes your daily living costs, which include things like your food and accommodation in a care home.
  • The council can reassess your care needs, even if you pay for your own care. This is because the council works out how much your care should cost to meet your eligible needs, and adds this up in your care account. It needs to check every so often that the amount it thinks you should be spending is still right.
  • New rules about top-up fees in care homes mean you may be able to pay them yourself. Top-up fees may apply if you move into a care home that costs more than the council can pay.
  • If you’re not happy about a decision, you have a new right to complain and appeal it, and for this to be independently investigated.


                         For more information:
Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 6565

To all carers

You  can obtain local support at the Ealing Carers – details on a previous blog

When you’re caring for someone it’s easy to overlook your own needs. But looking after your health and making time for yourself can help you feel better and manage better with your caring role.

Your health

Tell your GP you’re a carer, and discuss the impact this is having on your own health. They will be able to offer you advice and support, and you may be entitled to additional health services such as a free annual flu jab if the person you care for has a serious or ongoing health problem.
Although it can be difficult, try to make sure that you eat healthily, stay active and get enough sleep.

Don’t feel like you need to do everything yourself. If you have relatives who live nearby, try to be honest with them if you need a hand or want to share the responsibility.

I’m Emotional health

Don’t overlook your emotional health. Family and friends, carers’ groups , your GP or counsellor, or organisations like Samaritans can all provide you with space to talk about how you’re feeling.


If you care for someone with dementia, it can be hard to share any feelings of guilt, sadness, confusion or anger with them, leaving you feeling isolated. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings, and remember there’s no right or wrong way to feel.


Your social life

It’s a good idea to take up a hobby or activity, such as going to an exercise group or an evening class, if you can. Taking part in an activity you enjoy will give you the opportunity to do something for yourself – it’s important that you have your own interests and make time to pursue them where you can.

Your local library can provide information about social activities, events, education and courses. The University of the Third Age (U3A) can also tell you about courses in your area.

Please refer to a previous blog


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Are you a carer?

imageDuring my many years as a GP I have been amazed at how some people dedicate their lives to caring for family members or friends. They are a silent army of people who soldier on day after day providing  often 24 hour care with little or no reward except seeing their loved ones well cared for and are to be respected and praised.
What is a carer?
Carers trustA carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help. This could be caring for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.
Anyone can become a carer; carers come from all walks of life, all cultures and can be of any age. Many feel they are doing what anyone else would in the same situation; looking after their mother, son, or best friend and just getting on with it.
Carers don’t choose to become carers: it just happens and they have to get on with it; if they did not do it, who would and what would happen to the person they care for?

One of my first experiences of witnessing the unceasing dedicated work of a carer was Gwen who was caring for husband Tom. Tom had been suffering from multiple sclerosis since the age of 42yrs having worked underground as a miner since he was a young boy. He was now in his 60’s and had been bedbound for many years and was totally reliant on his wife to even change position in bed. Gwen would not even contemplate respite care for him and dutifully tended his needs every day and night. Her family were concerned for their mother’s health hence we decided to write to the MS Society asking if they could fund an adjustable bed as an aid for Gwen when lifting Tom to change him.

I recall the day vividly when I was invited along with neighbours and family to see the new bed arrive. Tom was absolutely thrilled because for the first time in many years he could be raised to a sitting position and watch the children playing in the park and to become part of the World outside again. Gwen was pleased to have the mechanical help to change his posture especially as she had been getting tired and weary but now could relax with him and view the world together. Carers requests are often so humble and unless someone makes the request on their behalf they ask for very little.

At last it is being recognised, after a year-long investigation by Carers UK the stark reality faced by those looking after loved ones who are older, disabled or seriously ill: loss of savings, debt and struggling to afford food and heating aswell as the physical and mental sufferings of the carer.
Read how Carers UK are helping carers and their families
This website will also provide information for you to find out about your local services.

Ealing Carers’ Centre

This is a resource and support centre for all unpaid carers, of any age, in the borough. The centre is managed, in partnership with Ealing Council, by Carers Connect, a consortium led by the Ealing Centre for Independent Living and including Ealing Mencap, Dementia Concern Ealing and Crossroads Care West London.

46 South Ealing Road, Ealing. London, W5 4QA
Tel: (020) 8840 1566

Fax: (020) 8840 5688

Email Carers’ Centre:
Opening hours: Mon–Fri, 9.30am–4.30pm (except bank holidays and other seasonal breaks)

The centre provides:

  • advice and resource information
  • holistic therapies
  • free exercise classes
  • an internet café
  • a large meeting room

It hosts carers networking groups and works in partnership with statutory and non-statutory agencies to enhance services for carers.

A list events and activities at the centre is provided on the Ealing Carers’ Centre website.

You don’t have to be a member to use the services available at the Carers’ Centre or the Ealing Centre for Independent Living (ECIL). However, carers can join the organisation by filling in the online ECIL membership application form. Members will receive the regular ECIL mailing of social and campaigning news, as well as the Carers’ Connection newsletter.

Support services
Staff at the centre have information about a variety of different services provided by Ealing Council and local organisations. Appointments can be made at the centre for one-to-one benefits advice or for legal advice on some areas. Emotional support is also available from people who understand carers’ concerns.

The Carers’ Centre does not currently carry out carer’s assessments, which can be arranged by contacting the social services customer contact centre on (020) 8825 8000, or visiting your local social
services reception point.

Respite care for older people

Short breaks for older people are stays in a residential/nursing home to provide respite for the older person or their carer.

The short breaks service for older people provides:

  • short breaks for carers of older people by offering the older person a brief period in a residential/nursing home
  • short breaks for older people whose well being would be enhanced by a brief period in residential/nursing home

A short break can be considered as a stay for one or two days, but is usually offered in blocks for up to two weeks.

Under this planned short breaks service, the maximum breaks that anyone can have is a total of eight weeks over a twelve month period where there are exceptional circumstances. A total of four weeks is the usual limit.

EalingHELP – new group for parents and carers of children with disabilities in Ealing
A Facebook group has been launched  for parents and carers of children with disabilities in Ealing and West London to share information and experiences. You can join at

Jointly is an app that makes caring for someone a little easier, less stressful and a lot more organised by making communication and coordination between those who share the care as easy as a text message.
Jointly app
Jointly app
Click on the above text

If you or you know someone who is a young carer
YCNet, at, is the only dedicated website and online support service for children and young people under the age of 18, who help to look after someone in their family with an illness, disability, drug/alcohol addiction or mental health problem.

Down's syndrome

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Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Training and Advice


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