New year, new start.

2020 is here, along with New Year resolutions to myself and how to use my time more effectively. The first thing I promised myself to do less of was googling mind numbing rubbish and concentrate on reading the unread books that were piling up.

I also wanted to get back to blogging, something that I enjoy doing, but always put it on the back burner making excuses that I’ll do it after the holiday or Christmas. Well, it’s way after Christmas and I’m sticking to my promise that I’ll blog again about issues close to my heart… dementia, caring, and hairdressing within that sector.

Winter Chills.

A fresh new year that started with a slow couple of weeks due to my nasty cough/throat virus. It makes you aware in this industry that you can’t always take that virus into the workplace. Having spent many sleepless nights coughing and spluttering, apart from feeling like a walking zombie, I couldn’t inflict that virus upon my elderly, vulnerable clients.

Common Cold or Flu.

Which brings me to the subject of cough, colds and flu, my virus has been just an irritating, cough and throat infection, which merely made me feel sorry for myself, but allowed me to catch up with season 3 of the Crown! And start reading one of the books piling up on my bookshelf. There are some positives in this!

The symptoms of the flu are similar to those of the common cold, however, flu is far worse. A cold may make you feel slow and lethargic, but with flu symptoms, you may not be able to get out of bed. This is especially true for adults over the age of 65 or older. Complications such as bed sores, aches and pains, respiratory problems, pneumonia, and a greater risk of falls with injuries are some of the complications that can occur in the elderly if they become infected with a contagious illness. Infection outbreaks can occur in care homes.

Prevention & Management.

There are always strict guidelines and tight procedures in place in the Nursing Home and Care setting. Preventative measures such as the flu jab are always offered to the staff annually. Staff in care homes are trained in outbreak prevention, preparedness, detection and management of infections and disease.
https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/info-professional/public-health/infection-winter/care-guidance/

Staff Sickness & Pay.

Unlike others, I have the choice to take the time off and focus on getting better. Being self-employed means you don’t get paid, but that’s par for the course with having your own business. You have to be disciplined and have a contingency plan for such times. Having worked in the care industry for over 20 years I’m amazed how times have changed when it comes to staff sickness.

If anyone knows exactly what the health carers and service providers do on a daily basis will understand how mentally and physically challenging their jobs can be.

So when it comes to staff sickness with a common cold/flu or something similar, many of the staff have the dilemma of, do they go to work and not let the team down as this leads to pressure with getting staff cover, but that means they feel unwell and potentially could spread infections, with the risk of passing the illness onto vulnerable elderly people. It’s not an easy decision. If they choose to stay home and recover many of the health carers lose pay for this type of illness.

I do remember a time when the care sector would pay their staff on a salary basis and this would lead to carers taking the time off without penalty of pay, but that also poses problems with the odd person taking advantage of this for the wrong reasons. It also depends on the policy of each employer as this can vary according to the employee’s contract. It can be a minefield of controversy and conflict.

Here are some useful articles I came across that can clarify this subject in more detail.
https://basildonandbrentwoodccg.nhs.uk/your-health/stay-well/stay-well-this-winter/be-a-flu-fighter-if-you-work-or-live-in-a-care-home
https://www.gov.uk/taking-sick-leave

But let’s not forget that most of our Health Professionals are the Silent Angels who work long shifts, can be under enormous pressure, and unless they are valued with a reputable employer who treat them fairly, can be on low incomes.

We are an ageing population and without our Silent Angels where would be. We need them!

So let’s all try our best to beat off those winter chills, have a flu jab if necessary, keep warm, stay hydrated, take our vitamin C and eat lots of fresh fruit and veg. And best of all… enjoy those rare, beautiful blue skies and crisp sunny days, it almost makes you feel like spring is just around the corner!

Karen Woodger
Founder Hair, Care & Dementia