Liferaft Blog

Caring for YOUR mental health

Caring for your individual mental health

Every year, 10th October marks World Mental Health Day, organised by the World Health Organisation. Its aim is simple – to champion the work of those in the mental health sector, and raise awareness of mental health campaigns around the world.

However, here at Liferaft, we know how important it is that positive wellbeing is supported all year round. Unfortunately, the topic of mental health is still considered controversial in many areas, which makes providing advice and support even more challenging.

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We know that the topic of mental health should not be overlooked or dismissed. As the World Health Organisation constitution states: ‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’ At an individual level, our mental health impacts our ability to interact and communicate with others, think and behave, and work.

The mental health charity Mind states that mental health problems currently affect one in four people in Britain – with issues ranging from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

One in four people in Britain – it’s a staggering statistic. This is why we feel it’s even more crucial that awareness of mental health is raised in the country. The attitude surrounding mental health needs to change; individuals who feel they have been misunderstood by their peers need to feel supported.

If you’re suffering with mental health problems, or you’re a concerned loved one, we have put together a few tips to encourage a greater sense of wellbeing. We do of course recommend anyone to seek medical advice too. Check out our list of resources that provide support and advice on mental health here.

  • Talk to those you trust about your feelings

Whether it’s a close friend you can talk to, or family members you trust, it’s so important that you share how you feel with others. Opening up about your mood, thoughts and challenges can often feel like a weight has been lifted. The people you choose to talk to may even be able to help you alleviate your worries and feel less lonely.

  • Get involved in an activity you enjoy

If there are any hobbies or activities you enjoy, go and take part! Make time for things you enjoy doing and are good at, whether it’s playing an instrument, participating in a sport or immersing yourself in arts and crafts. Hobbies and activities work as stress-relievers that can also boost your self-esteem.

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Supporting a healthy lifestyle through eating well and keeping fit not only improves your physical health, but lifts mental wellbeing too. It helps to promote self-confidence and is another opportunity to take time out of your everyday life. Following a balanced diet – with a mixture of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oily fish and water – also helps improve mood and energy levels.

  • Keep a note of you how you feel

Much like talking to those you trust, it can be useful to keep a record of your feelings. From this, you may be able to analyse patterns and triggers for specific problems. We also recommend recording your achievements and goals.

Liferaft is ideal for recording this, as well as capturing other important information such as medical appointments and dietary information.

Try Liferaft for FREE

If you think that Liferaft could support you and your family, not only in starting or transitioning through school, but in managing other aspects of your life then sign up for a FREE account today.

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World Mental Health Day 2017

Caring for the carer

 

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool - WMHD

World Mental Health Day is 25 years old!

 

This makes the annual event even more special. Since 1992 people all over the world have been holding events, making announcements and celebrating  #WorldMentalHealthDay.

This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health – mental health in the workplace – is something that is certain to get a lot of coverage in the coming days and weeks. We thought it was worthwhile writing our blog and shifting our focus to the mental health professionals themselves. People overlook the fact that the practitioners themselves need support, whether it’s in the form of a cuppa, a big hug or just someone that they can talk to!

The number of news stories around the wellbeing of employees has made headlines in recent years, and is very welcome. There are so many trending topics that focus on how we can all make a positive change to our mental health through wellness, exercise, diet or even simply making some more time for ourselves in such an ‘on the go’ world!

Indeed, the WFMA are asking employers to sign a pledge around appreciating employees, creating supportive environments, offering stress management and lots more.

You can download a copy from the WFMA website.

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Many amongst us are working to raise awareness about mental health, and at Liferaft we know how important it is to recognise this. Our product is designed to help make lives easier to manage, giving peace of mind and valuable time back, whatever your role in the circle of care.

As World Mental Health Day approaches, Liferaft is there to support you in making your life – and that of those you care for – better.

www.myliferaft.com

Resources

Download for free This E-book which looks at how to encourage good mental health in the workplace.

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Special Needs UK

Liferaft is delighted to be collaborating with www.specialneedsuk.org – a dedicated website providing parents and educational professionals with in depth information on schools, colleges, education centres and support groups for children and young adults with special educational needs.

Liferaft has been created based on our founder’s first-hand experience of problems and challenges faced by parents in caring roles.  We want to empower parents who feel a lack of control over their child’s care. When we carried out our research amongst parents, we found that the 4 key questions parents kept asking were:

  • How do I gather the information to complete the disability living allowance for my child?
  • What health and social care is available to support my child?
  • How can I reduce the amount of paperwork that I need to carry around with me to care and medical appointments?
  • What help is there for sharing information about my child without the constant need for writing mails, notes and telephoning people?

Liferaft can help with all of these issues and more:

 

Empowerment: You are in control

  • Create, save and share plans for health, education and well-being
  • Keep everything in one place to help you prepare for attending appointments and assessments
  • Monitor important items using special trackers and then share with those who need to be informed

Efficiency: No more searching for information and bits of paper

  • Everything in one centrally secure, online location
  • Information entered once and the ability to re-use it time and again, reducing repetition and avoiding miscommunication
  • Managing and sharing calendar appointments with others
  • Set reminders about key events, taking medication, etc.

Communication: Keeping everyone informed

  • Sharing from a single source ensures improved achievements and continuity of care as everyone is working to the same plans
  • Sharing information gives people a holistic view of your child: supporting them to provide the best care, diagnosis, plans, treatments and interventions

For more information on how Liferaft can help you, please visit our website www.myliferaft.com

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool

Settling back into school

5 tips for parents of children with SEN

We hope that the first few weeks back to school for your children have been productive and – aside from the normal hiccups – relatively easy to manage!

However, we also understand that going back to school can be a tough time for families, especially when transitioning from infants to juniors, primary to secondary, or to college or university.

This time can be understandably even more challenging for children with Special Educational Needs. It can take children with SEN longer to settle into a new routine and feel comfortable with the environment around them, which can in turn affect their happiness within their home life.

As parents and carers, we need to be mindful that some children will still be finding it difficult to settle into school life, which is why we have put together a series of 5 tips aimed to alleviate some of the chaos this time of year brings.

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool - Painted Fingers

  1. Highlight the ‘fun’ aspects of school life

It’s easy for children and parents to associate school with hard work, exams and structure, which can be restrictive and create a sense of negativity. This in turn can make the thought of going to school every day much more daunting.

One way to help is to start highlighting the ‘fun’ aspects of school; whether that’s playtime, story time in class, art lessons or if your school runs any ‘family fun days’ where parents can come into school and get involved in the activities.

2. Normalise the routine at home

Children can find it hard adjusting to the school day routine in the first few weeks of the new academic year. After the fun of the summer, it’s a shock to the system.

As the founder of Mothers with Attitude blog, Terri Mauro, tells Care.com: “Anything you can do to make something a routine before it has to become a routine, eases the transition, and whatever you can do to keep structure to your days will help.”

To help your child adjust to a new routine at school, it’s wise to create a routine at home. Before school, a getting ready routine will support the routine of the school day. The same after school to get homework completed and dinner eaten will help to normalise the structure of the day.

 3. Understanding your child’s Individual Education Plan

Understanding the support your child will be receiving at school is key, so make sure you can speak to their teacher or SENCO. Your child may also have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) to support their education, which will be reviewed regularly; it’s crucial that you are involved in this process too. Ensure the plan is clear so you can support the school’s effort at home.

As Reading Rockets points out in their back to school article, the “IEP is the cornerstone of your child’s educational program, so it’s important that you have a clear understanding of it”.

 4. Start preparing for next year’s transition now

If your child is transitioning to a new school in the next academic year, it’s recommended that you start preparing as soon as you can. It may not require immediate action, but it’s definitely worth thinking about now so you can reduce your child’s anxiety nearer the time.

Start with visits to the new school. Empowering Parents has a great idea for this: “Visiting a new school with your child when school is still in session is overwhelming for most any kid, especially those who are feeling anxious.” See if you can visit after school or at the end of a term, rather than during the school day. Visit as often as your child requires so they can feel comfortable in their new environment and arrange meetings with their new teachers if possible.

5. Keep all meetings, calls and documents organised with Liferaft

Liferaft is here to support your and your loved one’s needs all year round, but it’s also an invaluable tool to help with getting back into school life. Here’s how our application can help make the school routine a little easier for your family.

  • Use the Liferaft Trackers to keep a record of food likes and dislikes so if you are not around, you can easily pass the information on if someone else is making up a packed lunch.
  • Record any useful information you think will be helpful to your child’s teacher to facilitate with settling in.
  • Keep a track of your child’s mood over the initial weeks to monitor how they are settling in.
  • Use the goals section to help your child work towards a greater independence.
  • Organise any meetings or school visits so you can keep on track.

 Try Liferaft for FREE:

If you think that Liferaft could support you and your family, not only in starting or transitioning through school, but in managing other aspects of your life then sign up for a FREE account today.

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World Dementia Month

Creating a space to talk about dementia

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool - Dementia Month 2017 

When you’re caring for someone else, it’s easy to overlook your own needs. However looking after your health and making time for yourself can help you feel better and in turn, cope better with your caring role.

The Liferaft team are passionate about getting people talking about dementia – to understand what it is and what it isn’t – and encouraging them to see the person behind the disease. It is important to build on what people with dementia can still do and the contributions they can still make.

We are building a community where anyone who cares for a loved one can chat and exchange useful tips and information. We recognise that caring for someone with dementia may lead to feelings of guilt, sadness, confusion or anger.

Unlike with other conditions, it can be difficult to communicate and share these feelings with someone with dementia, which can leave you feeling very isolated.

It’s important to acknowledge these feelings, and remember that there’s no right or wrong way to feel. Liferaft (www.myliferaft.com) has been developed with people like YOU in mind.

There are numerous online and real world communities that can be of use to people with an interest in dementia (www.myliferaft.com/more/resources/#alzheimers-dementia) or for a family member who might not be sure where to go, what to look for, or who to ask when they have any important questions.

In the first in our series of posts about promoting World Dementia Month – we aim to point people in the right direction, and give some of the many wonderful groups a ‘shout-out’.

Carer’s groups

Carers’ groups can be a good way to get support from other carers who understand what you’re going through and can share their own experiences. Most groups meet regularly and may offer speakers, leisure activities, trips and simply time to sit and chat. Ask your dementia adviser or social services about local groups or contact the Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK or Carers UK for details.

Online groups

Online groups can also be a great source of support, especially if you can’t get out and about or if you need someone to talk to when no-one else is around. Try the Talking Point forums on the Alzheimer’s Society website or the message boards on the Carers UK website.

Memory cafes

Memory cafes also offer information and support in an informal setting where people with dementia and their carers can attend together. There are often professional carers available to talk to in confidence. To find out about local memory cafes, ask your dementia adviser or local Alzheimer’s Society group.

Day centres

Some carers feel mixed emotions about day centres, but a variation in routine can benefit you both and allow you to have some time to yourself. There are some specialist dementia day care centres, while others may cater for people with mild dementia.

Find out more from our Resources page, about Alzheimers and Dementia:

www.myliferaft.com/more/resources/#alzheimers-dementia

Other useful links:

https://www.worldalzmonth.org/

https://www.alz.co.uk

https://musicandmemory.org

World Alzheimer’s Day

World Alzheimer’s Day is on September 21st 2017

World Alzheimer’s Month takes place every September to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This year’s campaign is focusing on the importance of early detection and diagnosis.

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21st September marks World Alzheimer’s Day, when charities, organisations and individuals around the globe can concentrate their efforts on raising awareness. You can find out more about the events going on worldwide and how you can get involved here: https://www.alz.co.uk/world-alzheimers-month.

With this in mind, we thought it was the ideal time to explore the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on family life and the support available to those in need.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

For those less aware of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Alzheimer’s Society explains that: “The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, and often changes in mood, perception or behaviour.”

There are many different types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common cause. It’s a physical disease that affects the brain, as proteins build up in the brain that result in the loss of connections between nerve cells, leading to the death of nerve cells and the loss of brain tissue.

Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, medication is available to help relieve symptoms.

According to Alzheimer’s Society, there are more than 520,000 people in the UK with the disease.

How can Alzheimer’s disease impact family life?

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be shocking, distressing and emotional for both the individual and their family and friends. Unfortunately, as Alzheimer’s Disease International argues, there is still a stigma associated with the disease, not to mention a great deal of misinformation surrounding it, particularly in less educated areas around the world.

So, it’s understandable that caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, whether newly diagnosed or not, can be extremely difficult.

As a carer, it’s important to keep things as normal as possible for your loved one, so they can remain as independent as they can for as long as possible. This can require tasks and chores to be simplified, or establishing a daily routine at home for all to follow. Alzheimer’s Disease International has put together a list of tips that have worked for other carers here: https://www.alz.co.uk/adi/pdf/helpforcarepartners.pdf.

What support is available to help those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their families?

From community nurses, to online forums and financial advice, there is support available for those who need help caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Take a look at these sources below for helpful information:

You can find our extensive list of resources here: https://www.myliferaft.com/more/resources/#alzheimers-dementia

How can Liferaft assist your support of a loved one?

As carers of those with additional needs, we know how useful Liferaft is for recording health and medical data and support care information. The Liferaft app is an easy-to-use tool to keep organised, with different carers and medical professionals able to access the information.

Take a look at our testimonial page here to find out how Liferaft can help caring for those with Alzheimer’s.

Try Liferaft for FREE:

If you think that Liferaft could support you and your family, not only in starting or transitioning through school, but in managing other aspects of your life then sign up for a FREE account today.

Liferaft’s collaboration with Luke Reade

Liferaft is proud to be collaborating with racing driver Luke Reade as he competes in this years’ UK Clio Cup.  This has excited the petrol-heads in the Liferaft team who will be avidly following his progress over the coming months as he tours racetracks around the country!

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool - Luke Reade

Twenty-three year old Luke lives in Dartford, Kent and is a self-taught graphic designer during the working week.  At weekends, however, he thinks nothing of donning his safety gear and reaching speeds that most of us shouldn’t even be dreaming of!

“Like so many other drivers I’ve watched the UK Clio Cup on ITV and been at touring car events since I was young and always wanted to be a part of it. Its history and Renault Sport’s motor racing heritage make it a very prestigious grid to be a part of…”

To find out more about Luke Reade, you can follow him on Twitter @LukeReade 

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool

Liferaft us a powerful online resource that assists and addresses a wide range of health and social care demands. You know how much you wished everything that was important to your diary life were in one place? Well now it is! To find out how Liferaft can help you and your loved ones, visit www.myliferaft.com or see us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Going to college or university?

We can support YOU when you go back to College or University

Liferaft is about the person. It puts you at the centre of the care circle and empowers you to take ownership of some things that might seem otherwise complicated and sometimes, impossible!

Here’s just a few ways that our platform can help you to manage your needs when returning to College or Uni.

Efficiency: alerts for appointments

Empowerment: you control and own our own information

Accessibility: access for you and your Carer

Sharing: helping you to communicate your needs

We also know that returning to your College or University can be made that much more difficult if you are coping with a chronic illness, which is why we have curated these top 10 tips to help you along the way!

10 Tips to make going to school or college with a Chronic Illness easier…

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Heading off to college can be a stressful and chaotic time on its own – but throw chronic illness into the mix and it becomes even trickier to manage all the demands of your day-to-day life.

High stress levels or a lack of sleep can easily exacerbate your condition and lead to flare-ups, so it’s important to balance your schedule.

Take your time, put your health and well-being first, and know you are a warrior!

  1. Studying by distance makes it much easier. It might be possible to study online and watch lectures in bed on bad days.
  2. Always make sure to fill in the disability forms to notify your teachers or professors (and housing) if you live on campus. Keep a copy handy to email to your professors every semester. You must be proactive and communicative about your needs.
  3. Leave extra time getting to class. Try to be early so that when you must stop to use the toilet, you have that time. This way, you might reduce the impact of stress.
  4. Try to get ahead on assignments when you can because when something flares up, it might be more difficult to get something done.
  5. Always have a sweater and fingerless gloves for freezing computer labs if you suffer from Raynaud’s. Hand warmers in the winter, if need be!
  6. Try to schedule classes so you have breaks in between them if possible and you can go and rest if you are having a rough day.
  7. Meal planning at the beginning of the week is helpful so you get the right food and snacks and don’t have to fall back on cafeteria or vending machine food.
  8. Talk to your professors right away. It’s much better to let them know that something could possibly come up so they can work with you to not get overwhelmed. . Your teachers care and will want to work with you!
  9. Why not try a rolling backpack, so the heavy textbooks aren’t dragging you down? I
  10. Be up front with your roommates, professors and school staff! You might need extra time to get to and from classes, more time to complete assignments, options to take tests in a more comfortable environment, note takers and extra sick days. Be honest about what you need and advocate for yourself until those needs are met.

For more information about Liferaft – visit our FAQ page:

 

Stop bullying at schools

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool - Stop Bullying

As the new school year gets underway, we know that – as parents and guardians of children – there’s much more to worry about. From helping with homework to preparing packed lunches and meeting the teachers and classmates, we’re fully involved with every aspect of our child’s education.

Unfortunately, one thing that can be more difficult for parents to help with is bullying. Although a recent survey of over 2,500 people reveals that 47% of adults have experienced bullying at some point in their lives, it’s still considered an uncomfortable subject to talk about, especially with children.

For some parents, it can be difficult to understand what constitutes bullying. Put simply, bullying can be anything from name-calling to acts of violence. With the innovations in technology and social media in recent years, it’s now much easier to be connected to others online through the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or WhatsApp. As a consequence, we’ve seen a rise in online bullying, which takes many forms. According to Childline, cyberbullying ‘is using the internet, email, online games or any digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate someone else’.

With children going back to school, starting a new school, or transitioning from primary school to secondary, it’s the ideal time to explore how you can help if a child under your care is a victim of bullying:

  • Whether or not your child has reported bullying to you, the start of a new term is a great opportunity to have a discussion about bullying with your child. Let them know that if they ever feel they are being bullied, they should talk to someone that they can trust. Reassure your child that nobody deserves to be bullied.
  • What if your child tells you they are being bullied? Remember it can be extremely daunting for a child to talk about such a sensitive issue and they may have found it hard to confide in you, so it’s crucial to remain as calm as you can and listen to everything they have to say.
  • As parents or carers, we’re constantly worrying about our children and can often tell when something isn’t right. Even if they haven’t reported anything to you, your child may show signs that indicate they are being bullied. BullyBusters have created a list of signs to look out for if you’re concerned or have noticed any changes in your child’s behaviour: http://www.bullybusters.org.uk/parents/spotting_the_signs_of_bullying/.
  • You will need to determine what the appropriate action to take will be, while making sure you keep your child involved with the next steps. This could be familiarising yourself with the school’s anti-bullying policy and arranging a meeting with a teacher if it’s a school-related incident, or helping your child block and report online bullying on social media.
  • There are many charities and organisations set up to support you and your child in confidence, with help and advice from trained counsellors, and plenty of resources available online too.

Please see our useful links below:

BullyBusters – http://www.bullybusters.org.uk/

Bullying UK – http://www.bullying.co.uk/

Thinkuknow – https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/

If you would like further advice on what you can do, Liferaft has a list of Resources to help you say no to bullying.

 

Back To School – Top 10 Tips for Parents!

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If you’ve read the ‘About Us’ section on the Liferaft website, you will see that several of our team are parents and like you, are spending the last few weeks of the precious summer holidays having their children’s feet measured for new school shoes, hunting down that elusive last piece of uniform and hurriedly filling pencil cases and rucksacks.

Starting school for the first time, moving into a new class, transitioning from primary school to secondary, or secondary school to higher education is a scary and stressful time for parents and children alike.  Will they find new friends? How will they react to new environments and new levels of authority?

In the Liferaft team, our children are all at different stages within the education system, but we still sit over a cup of coffee having the same worries! All these worries can be multiplied if your child has special educational needs (SEN) or a long-term condition. As parents we want to support them the best way we can and the team here recognise that, so we’ve put together a list of our favourite Top Tips that have helped us and many others along the way. We cannot promise that you won’t need extra tissues on that first day, but hopefully a few of these tips will mean less of those tissues!

  1. Make a big deal out of buying a new lunch box and water bottle. Whether it be a pink, blue or has extra sparkles, if it is dishwasher proof, go with the flow.
  2. Are you able to get your child involved in making the packed lunch the night before so they won’t be shocked or surprised the following day? This will head off any lunchtime traumas and hopefully they will come home with a full tummy and an empty lunch box.
  3. Remember to pack the homework the night before or immediately before you walk out of the door if the homework is done in the morning. You do not want to go to all that effort and then leave it at home.
  4. Work out how much time the whole family needs in the morning. Do you and your partner need to get through the bathroom first? Work backwards from the time you need to be in the car on the way to school allowing 20 minutes each for getting change/teeth brushing etc. and then eating breakfast. Then add another 10 minutes for back-up time in case someone is a little behind that morning.
  5. If the new school requires a new journey by either car or bus, this could cause stress to all involved in the school run, so try and do a couple of ‘dummy runs’ in the weeks leading up to the first day to alleviate any negative feelings.
  6. Your child’s age will direct you to how much sleep they need a night, but those first few weeks at school may mean a slightly earlier bedtime whilst your child gets used to a new school routine.
  7. For children with special educational needs, the school may be able to arrange a visit for you and your child before the start date so that new classrooms etc. have a familiar feel when your child officially starts and you can note any need for specialist equipment or aids.
  8. Even if you take your child into the playground in the mornings, going those final few metres on their own can be daunting. If you know of another child (or parent!) who is also worried, agree to meet up a few minutes early so that the two children can walk in together. So far, one of our children has been walking in with the same friend for two years!
  9. If you have any additional needs or a long-term condition, talk to the university disability advisors and have a student support plan in place.  It’s important to make the university aware of your condition – they will suggest ways they can help.
  10. Email each of lecturers personally, explaining in your own words how your condition may affect their classes and what they can do to help.

 Useful Links for any parent, guardian or family member to bookmark:

 Pinterest – SEN back to school boards

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/tesspecialed/the-essential-sen-back-to-school-board/?lp=true

Liferaft back to school resources:

https://www.myliferaft.com/more/resources/?catletter=B#back-to-school

Times Educational Supplement back to school resources for students:

https://www.tes.com/articles/back-school-resources

SEN – Free Printables for SEN teachers and support circle:

http://www.senteacher.org/print/

Read Anna’s testimonial about how Liferaft helped her with her children who both have ongoing medical needs

Try Liferaft for FREE:

If you think that Liferaft could support you and your family, not only in starting or transitioning through school, but in managing other aspects of your life then sign up for a FREE account today.Bottom of Form