MyLiferaft Blog

Carers Rights Day 2019

Caring For Your Future

Did you know:

  • 6,000 people become carers every day?
  • Between 6-7 million people in the UK are carers for a loved one?
  • There are approximately 700,000 young carers in the UK (Jan 2017)

Every year Carers UK hold a Carers Rights Day (30th November) and this year, MyLiferaft wants to celebrate that day to highlight this amazing group of individuals.

Carers Rights Day brings organisations across the UK together to help carers in their local community know their rights and find out how to get the help and support they are entitled to.  It raises awareness of the amazing work that unpaid carers carry out selflessly across the UK every day.

 

MyLiferaft - Carers Rights Day

 

MyLiferaft

Who can be a Carer?

A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and would not be able to cope without their support.  Anyone can be a carer – a 12-year-old girl looking after a parent with an addiction problem, a 40-year-old man caring for his partner who has terminal cancer, or a 75-year-old man looking after his wife who has dementia.

For many people, taking on the role of a carer is a rewarding and positive experience, however there are several aspects of the role where you may need help, support and/or advice:

  • Money, benefits and entitlements – there can be a financial cost linked to looking after someone. Many carers have to give up work or reduce their hours putting them under financial pressure.  The cost of equipment and aids, washing, heating, lighting and travel can all add to the financial burden. Carers UK have a ‘Help with Benefits’ section on their website that can help you find out what you are entitled to claim for.
  • Looking after yourself – caring can be emotionally and physically exhausting which can lead to depression, stress and other mental health issues. Please see our Resources section for a list of organisations that can help you.
  • Getting out and about – caring for someone can be very isolating and you may find it difficult to leave the house. Try to find a local carers support group as they understand what you are going through and will often have regular support meetings with other carers.
  • Working and learning – young carers can find it difficult to attend school and when they are there, will often be bullied. For those who have paid work outside of caring for a loved one, it may mean that career progression or promotion will need to be put aside.

What am I entitled to?

Carers Allowance is the most common benefit, however not every carer can apply for it so check your eligibility.  You may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if you meet all the following conditions:

  • you look after someone who gets a qualifying disability benefit
  • you look after that person for at least 35 hours a week
  • you are aged 16 or over
  • you are not in full-time education
  • you don’t earn over £120 a week (after deductions)
  • you satisfy UK presence and residence conditions

The Carers UK website has all the information you need to check if you are eligible.

Please note that there are sometimes different allowances and benefits applied for carers in Scotland.

What Can MyLiferaft Do?

 

MyLiferaft - Young Carer

 

MyLiferaft is a free resource which supports you (and those that you care for) in managing health and care information.  Using MyLiferaft can:

  • Be a place to store health and care information (and control who sees it)
  • Create your hospital passport (information for hospital staff that isn’t all about illness)
  • Keep track and be reminded of appointments, assessments
  • Share care information with those who support you
  • Hear about new technology solutions and how they can help you

We want to help you reduce repetition and free up time to do the things you enjoy.  Our Standard service is FREE and you can try it now – just click here.

Resources

At MyLiferaft, we aim to give you everything you need in once place and this includes where to go for advice, information and support.  Our extensive list of resources has a specific section for carers with links through to organisations such as Carers UK and Carers Trust, however there are also sections covering other topics such as bereavement, Alzheimer’s, dementia, NHS resources, bullying and school holiday activity suggestions for children with a disability.

Click here to see our full list of Resources.

Carers UK operate a members’ only forum that gives carers the ability to share information, support each other and have access to an online community that understands what you do. To find out more, click here.

 

MyLiferaft - Carers UK Forum

Self Care Week

Choosing Self Care for Life

Self Care Week is an annual national awareness week that focuses on establishing support for self- care across communities, families and generations. More needs to be done to support people to better look after their own health.

 

MyLiferaft - SelfCareWeek

Empowering individuals to self-care has many benefits for their short term and long term health and this is important since people are living longer. Helping people to look after their own health, and their family’s health also helps to manage demand on health services.

Set up by the Self Care Forum, Self-care Week provides people-facing organisations with a focus to hold a targeted campaign to support people to take care of their health and well-being and improve their understanding of doing so. Self-care messages are maximised when repeated by many voices through different mediums at the same time, making a greater impact and reaching more of the population.

MyLiferaft - Self Care Week

The theme this year is Choose Self Care for Life which is suitable for self-care messages for all ages and genders and will allow you flexibility to focus on your particular area of self-care whether it is prevention, mental well-being, self-treatable conditions, signposting, self-management, antibiotic use or health literacy.

What Can You Do?

Choosing Self Care for Life is about making improvements in your life to protect your physical health and mental well-being. Follow these small steps to a healthier you:

Get active; advice is to exercise for at least twenty minutes a day, it’s ideal if you can incorporate this into your day by ditching the car and walking to work, or walking the dog, taking the stairs or even dancing around the kitchen table to your favourite songs!

Eat well. We all know that healthy eating is crucial to our health so we can start by swapping unhealthy snacks for healthy options such as nuts, seeds and fruit. Ask your pharmacist for advice on managing your weight.

Make positive changes! Take steps to stop those bad habits that don’t serve you well. This Self Care Week plan to stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake and get active! Your pharmacist can help with lifestyle changes such as weight management and stop smoking services.

Rest. A good’s night’s sleep is as essential to our health and well-being as eating healthily and exercising so, make sure you get the recommended 7-8 hours a night!

Stop! These days we lead have such busy lives that we sometimes forget to slow down and stop. Find time in your day to just quieten your mind. Mindfulness or yoga might be helpful.

How Can My Pharmacist Help?

Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals who give advice and recommend treatments for self-treatable conditions such as coughs, colds, sprains and strains.
People go to the doctor with common ailments because they are unsure how long symptoms last and need reassurance that it isn’t anything more serious. Instead of waiting for an appointment at your surgery, consider going to your local pharmacist first.

They will help you choose the right treatment for your ailment and can explain the normal duration of symptoms. They can also offer you help to stop smoking, manage your weight, and can often provide flu jabs and blood pressure checks. Many pharmacies also have private consulting rooms.

If you have a cold or flu virus it is worth remembering that antibiotics won’t help. In fact, taking them can reduce their effectiveness when they’re needed for ailments they can help with.

 

What Can MyLiferaft Do?

MyLiferaft

 

The main aim of Self Care Week is to support the idea of keeping on top of your self-care routine. When we designed the MyLiferaft application, we knew it was key for both carers and individuals themselves to have the ability to track their health in a safe, secure manner.

 

With MyLiferaft, you can capture important information such as medical appointments, dietary requirements, mental health and lifestyle updates. It’s also a great motivational tool, as you can add your goals and track your progress against them. Feel empowered by incorporating Liferaft into your own care plan, or within the support system for the person you care for.

We have created 2 packages to give YOU the flexibility to choose the MyLiferaft account that works for YOU and YOUR family. Choose from either our Free account or upgrade to our Premium account which gives you unlimited access to Trackers, Reports and Goals as well as the ability to share the information with as many people as you wish.  Find out more here.

Resources

There are now so many different organisations offering advice on self-care from food and nutrition, exercise and activities, health and well-being that it is difficult to get all the information in one place! However, the MyLiferaft Resources has a comprehensive guide to all this information and more – everything you could ever need to make sure you are caring for YOU! Use the Categories filter to choose your subject heading or select alphabetically.

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool - Resources

 

Stop Bullying Now

Stop Bullying Now

Many of the MyLiferaft team are parents and have first had experience of talking to their children about being bullied either at school or online.  During Anti-Bullying Week, we wanted to talk about, and raise awareness of how bullying can impact all children, but especially those with special educational needs.

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool - Stop Bullying

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.  If your child has a disability, he or she may be seen as ‘different’ to their classmates and this can sometimes lead to hurtful and bullying behaviour.

Bullying & Being Disabled

Research from Bullying UK suggests that children are more likely to be bullied when they are vulnerable in some way and that sadly, disabled children are three times more likely than their peers to be bullied. A survey by Mencap discovered that eight out of ten children with a learning disability have been bullied. People’s assumptions and prejudices about disability can make disabled children more vulnerable to bullying for a number of reasons, such as:

  • A lack of understanding of different disabilities and conditions.
  • Being seen as “different”.
  • Not recognising that they are being bullied.
  • They may be doing different work or have additional support at school.
  • They may be more isolated due to their disability.
  • They may have difficulties in telling people about bullying.
  • They may find it harder to make friends.

What is Bullying?

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.  Mencap outlines bullying as ‘repeated negative behaviour done on purpose to hurt someone. Often a person or group targets another person or group to make them feel embarrassed, insecure or scared.

Bullying takes many forms and bullying can happen to us at any age – not just in the playground. Bullying can take place anywhere – on buses, on the street, at clubs. And the experience can affect our mental health, self-esteem and even future job prospects.  Different types of bullying directed at individuals include:

  • Ignoring them & stopping talking when they are around
  • not inviting them to social events
  • gossiping or talking negatively about them behind their back and trying to get others to join in.
  • embarrassing them in public & encouraging others to avoid contacting them
  • It can also include physical bullying such as pushing, hitting, kicking and tripping
  • stealing or breaking things owned by the person being bullied
  • being pressured or forced to give money.
  • Verbal bullying such as name calling, mocking the individual and threatening them

What is Cyber Bullying?

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, there has been a rise in online bullying which can take 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’.

 

 

MyLiferaft - Bully

Examples of cyber bullying include:

  • You might get hurtful messages in emails, chat rooms and forums
  • You may receive nasty text messages
  • Online social media like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp can also be used to send hurtful messages
  • Being teased or made fun of online and having unpleasant comments being posted about you
  • pictures or videos of you being shared publicly online that you don’t want to be seen

Sometimes cyberbullies target people anonymously or with fake accounts. Someone may pretend to be your friend, but then ask you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable, like send them a naked picture of yourself.

How to Help your Child

With the start of the new term, it’s the ideal time to explore how you can help if your child or 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 discuss 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
  • 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.

Resources

There are many different organisations that can help and support you if you find that your child is being bullied.  Below are just a few – you can visit the Resources page on our website for lots more.

Childline

Mencap

Scope

Bully Busters

Citizens Advice Bureau

About MyLiferaft

 

MyLiferaft

“My personal experiences gave me a first-hand insight into the problems and challenges faced by parents in caring roles. I realised that gaps in knowledge between parents, carers, education and medical professionals became huge issues, and wished there was something I could use to hold everything we as a family knew in one place. Nothing can ever really prepare you for parenthood, and caring for a child with additional needs carries extra challenges. However there are ways to make life easier for everyone whatever their circumstances, and that’s what we have created with MyLiferaft – a tool which helps to manage all aspects of modern day living.” Nicola Mugatroyd – Founder & CEO MyLiferaft

Help for Halloween & Half-Term!

Help for Halloween & Half-Term!

 

 

It’s getting spooky and for many, Halloween falls in the middle of the Autumn half-term this year, so the likelihood of avoiding ghosts, ghouls, witches and lots of sugar is slim!

In our special Halloween blog, we want to embrace all the positive things about Halloween as well as make you aware that as well as being a great time for children to get involved in lots of different activities, it can also be a period of sensory overload for many children.  If your child is affected in this way, then we have tips and advice to help the whole family enjoy the next few weeks.

MyLiferaft - Halloween

Sensory Overload – what the experts say i.e. parents like YOU!

Before Halloween

  • Create a visual story of what Halloween may be like for your child, with some pictures or drawings. This will help your child prepare for the day’s activities.
  • Try on costumes before Halloween. If the costume is uncomfortable or doesn’t fit right, it may cause unnecessary distress and ruin their fun.
  • If your child does not like their costume, don’t make them wear it. Instead, talk about the situation with your child and try to uncover the reason why they don’t like it. After you talk with your child, they may gradually get used to the costume. Have them wear it for short periods of time and at increasing intervals before the day.
  • Consider a Halloween costume that fits over your child’s regular clothes, such as butterfly wings or capes.
  • Practice going to a neighbour’s door, ringing the bell or knocking on the door and receiving sweets.
  • If you are going trick-or-treating, it would be wise to check out your route first if possible.
  • The party atmosphere can present many difficulties for a young person with autism. There may be games, bright lights, loud music and various social interactions they are unused to. Utilise the countdown idea and social stories again to prepare them for what is likely to happen. However, it is possible for autism and social events to mix provided the planning is in place.

Halloween Day

  • Know your child’s limits and do only what he or she can handle. For example, if your child is not comfortable trick-or-treating, you can start by going to three houses. Assess how your child is doing and build up to more houses the following year.
  • Take your child to an activity in the community, such as a school festival or a neighbourhood party where the child is already comfortable and knows people.
  • Partner with family and friends that your child already has a relationship with.
  • The little battery-operated tea lights make for a much safer option than candles for lighting up pumpkins.
  • If you are giving out sweets home, give your child the option to give out the sweets. During the day, practice greeting people and giving out sweets.
  • If your child is afraid of going out at night, plan indoor or daytime Halloween activities.
  • The UK is following the American tradition of leaving a signal or sign outside the front door if Halloween visitors are welcome i.e. a lit pumpkin.  If you do not want your doorbell ringing all night, do not decorate your doorstep

You as the parent will know your child best and know what agitates them most and how best to cope. If they have something in particular that helps them stay calm, such as a toy or favourite music, have these ready just in case your child begins to feel upset.

Halloween

If your child simply isn’t into the festivities then remember that this is also okay, not every child likes Halloween and they aren’t obliged to participate. Hopefully, by being as prepared as possible, your child will be able to relax and enjoy the festivities.

All Things Pumpkins!

  • These no-carve pumpkin decorations from Parenting Special Needs magazine are ideal for younger children, too. From Frankenstein’s monster to a scary witch, these designs are easy to follow and fun to make!
  • Families.com also shares a brilliant idea that doesn’t involve sharp knives.
  • For children who can help you to carve pumpkins, Pinterest is a fantastic resource for spooky inspiration, and many pins come complete with instructions. Take a look at some easy pumpkin carving ideas here.

There are lots of activities that can help encourage development and exercise motor functions, while giving your child an opportunity to enjoy seasonal fun. CerebralPalsy.org has listed easy to create pumpkin activities for sensory play. You could turn your pumpkin into a volcano, or scoop out the flesh and fill it with slime or other textured items like hair gel.

Halloween

Pumpkin recipes to enjoy

If you are carving pumpkins, then you will be left with lots of fleshy pumpkin pulp – don’t throw it away!

  • Peas & Crayons has shared a delicious pumpkin muffin recipe that’s simple to make and sweetened only with maple syrup. If suitable, your child can help you weigh out your ingredients and stir the batter.
  • The Children’s Food Trust have also shared their sweet and spicy pumpkin soup recipe, which – with adult supervision – some children could get involved with preparing. Pumpkins are high in fibre and contain vitamin A, so this is a great healthy and warming recipe to make as the weather gets colder outside!
  • Had enough of pumpkins? We also have plenty of half term ideas on our Resources page. 

Halloween Half-Term Fun!

If after all the pumpkin activity, you are looking for more Halloween related ideas to keep boredom at bay, try some of the following suggestions:

  • Stock up on spooky craft activities from Hobbycraft and other craft shops
  • Visit a local National Trust property as many have pumpkin carving and spooky trails for children
  • Get the green and orange food colouring out and bake a Halloween inspired Victoria Sponge!
  • Have a movie afternoon and watch a ‘child friendly’ scary movie
  • Look out for Halloween parties in your local area that are suitable for children

We’d love to know if you try any of these pumpkin related activities too or have any tips and activities to share!  Send as an email at info@myliferaft.com

About MyLiferaft

“My personal experiences gave me a first-hand insight into the problems and challenges faced by parents in caring roles. I realised that gaps in knowledge between parents, carers, education and medical professionals became huge issues, and wished there was something I could use to hold everything we as a family knew in one place. Nothing can ever really prepare you for parenthood, and caring for a child with additional needs carries extra challenges. However there are ways to make life easier for everyone whatever their circumstances, and that’s what we have created with MyLiferaft – a tool which helps to manage all aspects of modern day living.”

Nicola Mugatroyd – Founder & CEO MyLiferaft

 

Try our Free Account now to discover the many ways in which MyLiferaft can help you, your family and those that you care for.

 

MyLiferaft

Hospital Passport

The Hospital Passport

 

Going into hospital is a worrying time for any of us. It can be even harder for someone who has a learning disability.

The Hospital Passport is an NHS initiative to help those with learning difficulties and is designed to give hospital staff helpful information that isn’t only about illness and health. It can sometimes be given a different name, like “personal record” or “my biography”, and may look different from hospital to hospital, but it is the information in it that is key to supporting the individual.

It’s about giving individuals who find it difficult to let others know how they like to be supported, what their likes and dislikes are, what help they need/don’t need, and generally have their voice heard, making their time in hospital more comfortable for the individual and their family.

 

MyLiferaft - Hospital Passport

 

What information is included in my Hospital Passport?

You will often find that you repeat the information a Hospital Passport contains over and over when talking to a member of your care circle or support team, with information including:

  • Emergency contact details
  • Your likes and dislikes
  • The amount of physical contact you’re OK with
  • What you liked to be called
  • How you communicate and like to be communicated with
  • What distresses you and how to avoid being distressed
  • How I move around
  • How I let you know when I’m in pain

The passport helps people know how to make you feel comfortable.  It doesn’t do away with conversations, but it does go a long way to making sure those conversations are more meaningful and focused.

 

What other names can a Hospital Passport be called?

 You may also hear the Hospital Passport referred to as:

  • A Personal Record
  • All About Me
  • My Biography
  • Get Me Better

What does it look like?

Below are two examples of what a Hospital Passport could look like.  It is always best to ask the hospital you are attending if they have their own version.  In some cases, specific charities also have their own dedicated Hospital Passports, like the National Autistic Society here.

Don’t forget – it is not about what the Hospital Passport looks like, but the information that is in it.

 

MyLiferaft - Hospital Passport                       MyLiferaft - Hospital Passport

 

How does using MyLiferaft help me complete my Hospital Passport?

When using a Liferaft Premium Account, you only need to add all your critical information once and update it when something changes.  This same information can then be used to create different reports, of which the Hospital Passport is one.

Below is for an example of the Hospital Passport that has been created using Liferaft:  Hospital Passport

You can:

  • Downloaded the Hospital Passport and take it with you as a printed copy
  • Email the Hospital Passport to the person who is helping you

If you want to try a MyLiferaft account you can sign up for a no obligation trial.  If you are a parent carer, first set up an account for yourself and you will be guided on how to set up and manage an account for your child.

MyLiferaft Resources

At MyLiferaft, we aim to give you everything you need in once place and this includes where to go for advice, information and support.  Our extensive list of resources has a specific sections for organisations that support Parent Carers, Learning Disabilities, Accessibility, Bullying, Going Back to School, Bereavement, Mental Health, Autism, Epilepsy, School Holiday ideas, Benefit information and various NHS information websites.

You can also be part of the MyLiferaft community and receive our regular newsletter which gives you up-to-date information on health, care & well-being. Sign-up here to join our ever growing network!

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool - News

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day

Being mentally healthy doesn’t just mean that you don’t have a mental health problem.  If you’re in good mental health, you can:

  • make the most of your potential
  • cope with life
  • play a full part in your family, workplace, community and among friends.

MyLiferaft - Mental Health Foundation

MyLiferaft - World Mental Health Day

 

Some people call mental health ‘emotional health’ or ‘well-being’ and it’s just as important as good physical health.  Mental health is everyone’s business. We all have times when we feel down or stressed or frightened. Most of the time those feelings pass. But sometimes they develop into a more serious problem and that could happen to any one of us.

Self-Care; Looking after YOU

Everyone is different and your mental health doesn’t always stay the same. It can change as circumstances change and as you move through different stages of your life.

There’s a stigma attached to mental health problems. This means that people feel uncomfortable about them and don’t talk about them much. Many people don’t even feel comfortable talking about their feelings. But it’s healthy to know and say how you’re feeling.

Good mental health is not simply the absence of diagnosable mental health problems, although good mental health is likely to help protect against development of many such problems. Good mental health is characterised by a person’s ability to fulfill a number of key functions and activities, including:

  • the ability to learn
  • the ability to feel, express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions
  • the ability to form and maintain good relationships with others
  • the ability to cope with and manage change and uncertainty

It’s important to take care of yourself and get the most from life. Below are 10 practical ways to look after your mental health. Making simple changes to how you live doesn’t need to cost a fortune or take up loads of time. Anyone can follow this advice. Why not start today?

  • Talk about your feelings
  • Keep active
  • Eat well
  • Drink sensibly
  • Keep in touch with friends & family
  • Ask for help
  • Take a break
  • Do something you are good at
  • Accept who you are
  • Care for others

Every Mind Matters

A brand new initiative has been launched this week from Public Health England and the NHS, in conjunction with several mental health charities, called Every Mind Matters.  It’s aim is to help people take simple steps to look after their mental health, improve their mental well-being and support others.  You can find out more about this initiative here.

 

MyLiferaft - Every Mind Matters

MyLiferaft Supporting Mental Health

MyLiferaft is a free resource which gives an individual and those who support them, one central online place where they can add, manage and share information about health, care and well-being. Using MyLiferaft reduces the need for repetition and explanation every time someone new comes on board, helps improve consistency and is truly centered around the person and their needs.

Try our Free Account now to discover the many ways in which MyLiferaft can help support your mental health.

  • Add in details that will help others understand you and your world
  • Tell others the best way to interact to reduce your levels of stress
  • Let others know how to help you if you are feeling stressed
  • Try keeping track of your mood
  • Keep a record of what works well for you and what doesn’t
  • Set yourself some goals and monitor progress

 

 

MyLiferaft - Matrix

  • Share your goals with others who can help you achieve them.
  • Taking medication? Keep a track and include if you need support to manage your medication
  • In education and need extra support? Document this in the education section and monitor progress
  • Keep a record of all meetings with professionals and track what was discussed
  • Share information with others e.g. your doctor, family friends, school

MyLiferaft Resources

At MyLiferaft, we aim to give you everything you need in once place and this includes where to go for advice, information and support.  Our extensive list of resources has a specific section for those with mental health with links through to organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation, Every Mind Matters, MIND and the Samaritans.  There is also a full list of resources on a wide range of topics including Bullying, Going Back to School, Bereavement, Dementia, Autism, Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Benefit information and various NHS information websites.

Click here to see our full list of Resources.

Stop Bullying Now

Stop Bullying Now

Many of the MyLiferaft team are parents and have first had experience of talking to their children about being bullied either at school or online.  During Anti-Bullying Week, we wanted to talk about, and raise awareness of how bullying can impact all children, but especially those with special educational needs.

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool - Stop Bullying

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.  If your child has a disability, he or she may be seen as ‘different’ to their classmates and this can sometimes lead to hurtful and bullying behaviour.

Bullying & Being Disabled

Research from Bullying UK suggests that children are more likely to be bullied when they are vulnerable in some way and that sadly, disabled children are three times more likely than their peers to be bullied. A survey by Mencap discovered that eight out of ten children with a learning disability have been bullied. People’s assumptions and prejudices about disability can make disabled children more vulnerable to bullying for a number of reasons, such as:

  • A lack of understanding of different disabilities and conditions.
  • Being seen as “different”.
  • Not recognising that they are being bullied.
  • They may be doing different work or have additional support at school.
  • They may be more isolated due to their disability.
  • They may have difficulties in telling people about bullying.
  • They may find it harder to make friends.

What is Bullying?

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.  Mencap outlines bullying as ‘repeated negative behaviour done on purpose to hurt someone. Often a person or group targets another person or group to make them feel embarrassed, insecure or scared.

Bullying takes many forms and bullying can happen to us at any age – not just in the playground. Bullying can take place anywhere – on buses, on the street, at clubs. And the experience can affect our mental health, self-esteem and even future job prospects.  Different types of bullying directed at individuals include:

  • Ignoring them & stopping talking when they are around
  • not inviting them to social events
  • gossiping or talking negatively about them behind their back and trying to get others to join in.
  • embarrassing them in public & encouraging others to avoid contacting them
  • It can also include physical bullying such as pushing, hitting, kicking and tripping
  • stealing or breaking things owned by the person being bullied
  • being pressured or forced to give money.
  • Verbal bullying such as name calling, mocking the individual and threatening them

What is Cyber Bullying?

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, there has been a rise in online bullying which can take 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’.

 

 

MyLiferaft - Bully

Examples of cyber bullying include:

  • You might get hurtful messages in emails, chat rooms and forums
  • You may receive nasty text messages
  • Online social media like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp can also be used to send hurtful messages
  • Being teased or made fun of online and having unpleasant comments being posted about you
  • pictures or videos of you being shared publicly online that you don’t want to be seen

Sometimes cyberbullies target people anonymously or with fake accounts. Someone may pretend to be your friend, but then ask you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable, like send them a naked picture of yourself.

How to Help your Child

With the start of the new term, it’s the ideal time to explore how you can help if your child or 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 discuss 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
  • 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.

Resources

There are many different organisations that can help and support you if you find that your child is being bullied.  Below are just a few – you can visit the Resources page on our website for lots more.

Childline

Mencap

Scope

Bully Busters

Citizens Advice Bureau

About MyLiferaft

 

MyLiferaft

“My personal experiences gave me a first-hand insight into the problems and challenges faced by parents in caring roles. I realised that gaps in knowledge between parents, carers, education and medical professionals became huge issues, and wished there was something I could use to hold everything we as a family knew in one place. Nothing can ever really prepare you for parenthood, and caring for a child with additional needs carries extra challenges. However there are ways to make life easier for everyone whatever their circumstances, and that’s what we have created with MyLiferaft – a tool which helps to manage all aspects of modern day living.” Nicola Mugatroyd – Founder & CEO MyLiferaft

Back at School – The 1st Week

Back At School – The 1st Week

 

MyLiferaft - Back At School

 

We hope that the first few days back to school for your children have been productive, and aside from the normal hiccups of meeting new teachers and getting back in to a routine, relatively easy to manage!

At MyLiferaft, we have children of our own and 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.

Children with SEN

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 in turn can affect 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

Five Top Tips To Help

 

Highlight the ‘fun’ aspects of school life

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

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.  One of the MyLiferaft parents regularly helps with the cookery classes!

Normalise the new 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 – for everyone!

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.

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”.

Start preparing for next year’s transition now

It may seem strange reading this in September just as the new school year starts, however 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.

Keep all meetings, calls and documents organised with MyLiferaft

MyLiferaft is here to support you 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 MyLiferaft 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 and if there is anything that triggers a mood change.
  • 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.

About MyLiferaft

MyLiferaft is a free resource which gives a parent of a disabled child, and those who care for them, one central online place where they can add, manage and share information about health, care and well-being. Using MyLiferaft reduces the need for repetition and explanation every time someone new comes in to the care circle, helps improve consistency and is truly centered around the person and their needs.

MyLiferaft

Other benefits of MyLiferaft include:

  • Telling members of your child’s care circle best way to interact you’re your child to reduce levels of stress
  • Let others know how to support you and your child i.e. what are their likes and dislikes
  • Set reminders so you worry less about forgetting appointments or your child taking their medication
  • Try keeping track of your child’s mood so you can spot trends
  • Keep a record of what works well for you and your child and what doesn’t, so you can pass this on to others within the care circle
  • Set yourself and your child some goals and track how you are getting on with achieving them
  • Share your goals with others so they can help you reach them
  • Keep a record of meetings/consultations you have with professionals and write down what was discussed so you can refer back to it at any time or share it with others in your child’s care circle
  • Share information with others e.g. doctors, family friends, social workers, therapists, teachers etc

Try our Free Account now to discover the many ways in which MyLiferaft can help

MyLiferaft Resources

At MyLiferaft, we aim to give you everything you need in once place and this includes where to go for advice, information and support.  Our extensive list of resources has a specific section for going Back To School giving ideas and details of organisations to help with activities for all weathers!  We also have links through to organisations that support Parent Carers, Learning Disabilities, Accessibility, Bullying, Going Back to School, Bereavement, Mental Health, Autism, Epilepsy, School Holiday ideas, Benefit information and various NHS information websites.

You can also be part of the MyLiferaft community and receive our regular newsletter which gives you up-to-date information on health, care & well-being. Sign-up here to join our ever growing network!

Staying Healthy & Active

Staying Healthy & Active

There has been much reported over the last 12 months about how the benefits of keeping active can help improve both your health and your emotional and mental well-being.  Whether you are training for a marathon, attending a yoga class or spending a few hours gardening, being active can bring many benefits.

Age is also no limitation to the activities that you can take part in.  Many schools have introduced more physical education classes and after school clubs offering activities and those in their ‘golden years’ are taking up more activities than ever before – often so they can keep up with their grandchildren!

 

    MyLiferaft - Active

In the past someone with a disability, complex learning need or in need of additional support would not have been able to take part in being active, however over recent years this has changed; the Invictus Games now offers ex-serving military personnel who have been wounded in action the opportunity to complete & the awareness for the Paralympics has grown (watch out for the next Games at the end in Tokyo in 2020!  The is encouraging the next generation of sportsmen and women to pick up a javelin, put on a pair of swimming goggles or lace up a new pair of running shoes!

Why Stay Active?

Cancer Research UK reported that 4 out of 10 cases of cancer could be prevented by a change in lifestyle – that’s 135,000 lives that could be saved.  The charity Mind explains why taking up an activity can help those with mental health issues.  Many charities offering support to those that have a ‘visible’ disability report that individuals become more confident once they take up an activity, which can lead to them taking a greater responsibility for their overall well-being.

However, it’s not just about staying active.  Sometimes it can be about changing several elements of your lifestyle in order to help your physical and mental well-being.  The NHS has a great resource that gives advice and guidance on making changes across the different aspects of your life – eating well, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and taking exercise are just a few of the different areas.

There is also the social side of taking part in an activity.  We all have days when we feel our energy levels are low and we would rather sit with a good book or the TV remote control, but if a group of people are relying on you as part of an activity, then this motivation can get you out of the door and into a place of positive energy.  Meeting up with people who have a shared interest is often one of the strongest bonds outside of a family unit – it can bring you close to like-minded people who have gone through similar experiences to you and you can share your stories.

How to Stay Active

You don’t have to train for the Special Olympics or take up long-distance running as part of the England Athletics team – although you could if you wanted to!  Even the smallest of changes now can start to reap rewards in a matter of weeks.

Having a disability, whether it is visible to other people or not, may have stopped you in the past, but please don’t let it stop you in the future.  A member of the MyLiferaft team was invited to attend the National Junior Games at Stoke Mandeville Stadium last year and was amazed at the different activities that are now available and the positive, almost electric, atmosphere!

 

 

 

MyLiferaft - Active

Staying Active also doesn’t have to mean you build up a sweat!  Walking and gardening have both been recognised as having great benefits to both your physical and mental well-being, and being outside is an added bonus – even with our Autumn weather approaching!  There is no sport that isn’t available to people with a disability; Some of the lower impact sports you might consider include yoga, pilates, swimming, aqua aerobics & bowls.

To pick up the pace, dancing, cycling, athletics and court-based activities are just a few of the ‘higher intensity’ activities that you can take part in and being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you have to sit on the side lines as a spectator.  The British Wheelchair Athletic Association (BWAA) has the pentathlon as a discipline which involves completing 5 different sports and Wheelpower will put you in touch with organisations that can have you using your wheels for table-tennis, basketball, bowls, curling & rugby!  Fencing, tennis, ice-hockey, rowing, gymnastics, cricket, canoeing, archery and angling are also available so finding an activity to suit you is easier than you think!

MyLiferaft supporting Sports, Activities & Well-Being

As well as using MyLiferaft to keep a record of medical appointments, treatments and medications, you can also use it to help motivate you to stay active and healthy!

  • Use our Goals to help you set sporting or physical achievements or if you are trying to lose weight, use the Goals to set up a weight loss target
  • You can track your progress using our Trackers which can be personalised to match your Goals
  • The Calendar allows you to set up a training schedule if you are taking part in an event
  • Create a food diary in our Journal so you can monitor what you are eating and how often
  • You can Share all of this information with family, friends and professionals within your care circle, so when you achieve your goals, you can tell everyone!

To try MyLiferaft now, click here.

To find out more about MyLiferaft, click here.

For more information, see our Subscriptions page.

MyLiferaft

Resources

There are now so many different organisations offering sporting opportunities and activities that it is difficult to get all the information in one place!  Below are several of the organisations that we have found that specialise in offering activities to the disabled and those with additional needs.  You can find even more in the Sports & Activity section in the MyLiferaft Resources on our website.

Challenged Athletes Foundation

Sport England 

England Athletics

British Wheelchair Athletic Association

Mencap Sport

 

Back To School – Top 10 Tips

Back to School – Tips For Parents

 

MyLiferaft - Back to School

 

You will probably know already that several of the MyLiferaft 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 MyLiferaft 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!

Top Tips

  • Make a big deal out of buying a new lunch box and water bottle. Whether it be pink, blue or has extra sparkles, if it is dishwasher proof, go with the flow.
  • 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.
  • 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.

             

  • 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 changed/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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

             

  • 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!
  • 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.
  • If you have any additional needs or a long-term condition, talk to the university disability advisers 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.
  • Email each of your lecturers personally, explaining in your own words how your condition may affect their classes and what they can do to help.

MyLiferaft Resources

At MyLiferaft, we aim to give you everything you need in once place and this includes where to go for advice, information and support.  Our extensive list of resources has a specific section for going Back To School giving ideas and details of organisations to help with activities for all weathers!  We also have links through to organisations that support Parent Carers, Learning Disabilities, Accessibility, Bullying, Going Back to School, Bereavement, Mental Health, Autism, Epilepsy, School Holiday ideas, Benefit information and various NHS information websites.

You can also be part of the MyLiferaft community and receive our regular newsletter which gives you up-to-date information on health, care & well-being. Sign-up here to join our ever growing network!

About MyLiferaft

MyLiferaft - Family

MyLiferaft is a free resource which gives a parent of a disabled child, and those who care for them, one central online place where they can add, manage and share information about health, care and well-being. Using MyLiferaft reduces the need for repetition and explanation every time someone new comes in to the care circle, helps improve consistency and is truly centered around the person and their needs.

Other benefits of MyLiferaft include:

  • Telling members of your child’s care circle best way to interact you’re your child to reduce levels of stress
  • Let others know how to support you and your child i.e. what are their likes and dislikes
  • Set reminders so you worry less about forgetting appointments or your child taking their medication
  • Try keeping track of your child’s mood so you can spot trends
  • Keep a record of what works well for you and your child and what doesn’t, so you can pass this on to others within the care circle
  • Set yourself and your child some goals and track how you are getting on with achieving them
  • Share your goals with others so they can help you reach them
  • Keep a record of meetings/consultations you have with professionals and write down what was discussed so you can refer back to it at any time or share it with others in your child’s care circle
  • Share information with others e.g. doctors, family friends, social workers, therapists, teachers etc

Try our Free Account now to discover the many ways in which MyLiferaft can help