MyLiferaft Blog

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 (watch out for the next Games at the end of October in Sydney!)  The profile of the Paralympics has grown hugely and is now 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!  You also don’t have to wait until January to take part in an activity or change another element of your lifestyle.  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 a few weeks ago with Wheelpower and was amazed at the different activities that are now available and the positive almost electrical atmosphere.  See their website for more information.

 

 

 

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!

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.

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

 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month

 

ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a serious health concern . The mission of ADHD Awareness Month is to educate the public about ADHD by sharing information based on the evidence of science and peer-reviewed research. 

The theme this year is Setting the Record Straight – if we raise awareness of ADHD and spread the word, then life can be better for everyone, especially those with ADHD and their family and friends.

MyLiferaft - ADHD

What is ADHD?

The Young Minds website defines ADHD as “having lots of energy and finding it difficult to concentrate.  It can be hard to control your speech and actions”.  Children with ADHD may also have difficulty controlling their impulses and paying attention.  All this can be very disruptive both at home and at school.

ADHD is often difficult to spot, as being a ‘naturally’ energetic child may not manifest itself into anything other than being full of ‘controlled’ energy.  ADHD can be spotted in babies as young as 18 months, but becomes more obvious between the ages of 3 and 7 and is the most common behavioral disorder among children.  On average, more boys than girls are diagnosed, with one of the early signs being unable to concentrate.

ADHD can also manifest itself in adults who may have trouble managing time, being organised, setting goals, and holding down a job. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addiction.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) has similar symptoms to ADHD, however these manifest themselves primarily in difficulty concentrating and less hyperactivity.

Child Symptoms of ADHD

Symptoms of ADHD in children include:

  • Is easily distracted and doesn’t appear to listen
  • Doesn’t follow directions or finish tasks
  • Doesn’t pay attention and makes careless mistakes
  • Forgets about daily activities and has problems organising daily tasks
  • Doesn’t like to do things that require sitting still and will often squirm or fidget when forced to sit
  • Has trouble playing quietly and will talk excessively
  • Is always moving, such as running or climbing on things; always ‘on the go’
  • Has trouble waiting for his or her turn
  • Blurts out answers and interrupts others

For ADHD symptoms in adults, please see the WebMD website.

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by ADHD. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.

 

MyLiferaft - ADHD

 

What Causes ADHD?

The exact causes of ADHD are unknown, but there is general agreement from researchers around the world that all of the following could be contributing factors:

  • A brain injury or disorder affecting the frontal lobe
  • Exposure to toxins such as lead in a child’s early development
  • Changes in the brain and chemical imbalances within the brain
  • During pregnancy, smoking, drinking, infections and poor nutrition can affect a baby’s brain development
  • ADHD can be known to run in the family.

Treating ADHD

Using research from several websites, including WebMD and Young Minds, there are several ways to help support those with ADHD:

  • Medication – called stimulants, these medications can help control hyperactive and impulsive behaviour as well as increasing the attention span.
  • Therapy – these focus on changing behaviour and can include special education, behavioral modification, psycho-therapy and social skills training.
  • Support groups – meeting up with and talking to other individuals who have ADHD or as a parent carer, can often open up possible solutions that have worked for other people that you can try.

How Can MyLiferaft support people with ADHD?

MyLiferaft gives you several ways to help with the management of ADHD, whether you are a parent carer supporting your child or an individual living with ADHD; for example:

Keep track of moods, behaviour and medication using our Trackers so you can spot trends in frequency and potential triggers.

  • Use the Appointments section to help you manage your diary when booking meetings with teachers, GP’s and health care professionals.
  • You can agree and document an education/behaviour support plan using the Goals Consistency is important in achieving results so sharing Goals with everyone involved means everyone responds in the same way which can help achieve the outcomes you are seeking.
  • You can Share information 24/7 to those within the care circle and they can add Comments giving details of the day’s activities, what has gone well/not so well, what specific environments may have impacted behaviour that day i.e. school, a loud supermarket, going into an underground car park etc.
  • You can download and use the Reports in MyLiferaft to help with creating a pathway to an official diagnosis.

MyLiferaft

 

ADHD Resources

As well as the websites list below, we have an extensive list of ADHD resources on our website which is available to you to access.  If you have a website you have found useful that does not appear in the list, please email us at info@myliferaft.com so that we can share it with other people.

ADHD Awareness Month

ADHD Foundation

ADHD Online Expo

Adults with ADHD

 

Additional Note: please note that MyLiferaft is an online solution to help manage your health, care and well-being.  The information in this blog has been adapted from several of the websites listed in the Resources paragraph.  For further help and advice on ADHD, please refer to your GP.

 

MyLiferaft Launch Free Subscription Package!

MyLiferaft, the support software for anyone with a long-term condition or disability and their care circle, is delighted to announce the launch of a brand-new FREE Subscription package.

 

MyLiferaft - Any Time

 

With users in mind MyLiferaft is now available FREE, no payment details are needed to create and use an account, and you can have access to a wide range of tools to assist you in managing your care and health.

To give users choice, there is also the offer of a Premium account.   This offers a wider range of features and sharing.

Create your FREE account today – just click on Sign Up Now, download our Quick Start Guide and you are ready to start using MyLiferaft!

Key Features

MyLiferaft gives you one secure place online to manage and update and share, all your personal health, well-being and care information using a laptop, tablet or phone at any time of day or night.

With a Free account you can:

  • Set up and manage an account for yourself, or someone else (i.e. a parent carer can set up an account for their child and/or elderly relative).
  • Share information with two people in your care circle
  • Add and update vital information about you or the person you are caring for
  • Capture and keep a history of yourself in terms of your health and well being
  • Access information for completing forms to ensure accuracy and consistency
  • Access the wide range of MyLiferaft resources, news and events
  • Create calendar entries and reminders to help manage meetings and appointments
  • Keep an online journal to record activities, progress, feelings

Upgrade to a Premium account and unlock additional features to:

  • Share information you select with as many people within your care circle as you choose
  • Access the full range of MyLiferaft Reports. These can be downloaded or shared online with people in your care circle which helps remove repetition and duplication of information
  • Use the full range of Trackers to track a wider range of your care and well-being such as medication, temperature and mood
  • Use the full range of Goals to keep you motivated and track your progress and achievement over time

These are just a snap shot of the features of MyLiferaft; to find out more about the difference MyLiferaft can make, please click here.

About MyLiferaft

MyLiferaft was created by technology entrepreneur Nicola Murgatroyd. Her eldest daughter had complex special needs, and Nicola faced real problems managing her care effectively.

“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 that supports true person-centred care.”

 

MyLiferaft - Nicola Murgatroyd

 

To find out more about Nicola’s story and MyLiferaft, click here.

MyLiferaft

National Eczema Week

National Eczema Week

According to the National Eczema Society, one in five children and one in twelve adults have eczema.  It can affect all age groups, but is prevalent in children – if you had eczema as a child, you may have heard the phrase ‘you will grow out of eczema’.  This can be true, but eczema can also reappear in later life.

MyLiferaft - National Eczema Week

What is Eczema?

Allergy UK state that eczema, also known as ‘atopic eczema’ or ‘atopic dermatitis’, is a skin allergy/condition causing inflammation and intense irritation. Eczema symptoms tend to be caused by dry skin.

Skin that is affected by eczema gets sore and broken when it is scratched. It can look wet and may bleed. Scratching is hard to avoid since the main distressing symptom of eczema is unbearable itching, but once the skin gets broken and cracked, infections can set in, causing even more discomfort.

Being atopic means having a genetic tendency for your immune system to make increased levels of antibodies to certain allergens. An atopic individual is likely to have more than one allergic condition during their lifetime, such as eczema, asthma, hay fever or food allergy.

What Causes Eczema?

Eczema is often quickly diagnosed by a doctor and they will be able to differentiate between eczema and other skin conditions.  It has been recognised that whilst people may not have ‘full blown’ eczema, their skin may be affected by changes in the seasons and emotional responses such as stress.  Many eczema sufferers however cannot link their symptoms to a cause which can be very frustrating.

There are ‘trigger’ items and products that can affect individuals and result in an eczema ‘flare up’ – these include reactions to cosmetics & beauty products, dairy-based products, cleaning and industrial products.

There are 8 recognised types of eczema:

  1. Atopic – the term atopic refers to a personal and family tendency to develop eczema i.e. it is hereditary
  2. Contact – contact dermatitis is the most common type of work related skin disease
  3. Adult Seborrhoeic – this type of dermatitis occurs in adults and can affect the scalp, face and torso
  4. Infantile Seborrhoeic – a common skin condition in infants under the age of one and often forms as ‘cradle cap’
  5. Discoid – very distinct coin shaped patches of eczema approximately the size of a 50p
  6. Pompholyx – often see as blistering around the hands and feet
  7. Asteatotic – also known as ‘eczema cracquelee’ and affects people over the age of 60
  8. Varicose – sometimes known as gravitational or statis eczema and is common in later life

 

 

 

MyLiferaft - Eczema

Treatments for Eczema

Just as there are several types of eczema, there are also several ways to treat it.  As well as downloading their fact sheet, Allergy UK suggest the following:

  • Emollients – emollient lotions and creams are prescribed for treating atopic eczema and dry skin, and are in their simplest form, mixtures of oil and water.
  • Topical steroid creams – it is sometimes necessary to apply topical corticosteroids (e.g. hydrocortisone), as these reduce inflammation in the skin caused by eczema.
  • Wet wraps – sometimes, special pyjama-like garments (known as ‘wet wraps’) that are used for children may also help certain areas of your body that have not responded to the usual topical application of emollients and steroids.
  • Calcineurin inhibitors – calcineurin inhibitors are an alternative to steroid creams. Like steroid creams, they reduce the skin inflammation and can lessen itching.

 MyLiferaft Supporting Eczema Suffers

MyLiferaft

 

With so many types of eczema, different ways of treating the symptoms and lots of potential trigger points, it can be difficult to keep track of your allergies and how to manage them. The tools within MyLiferaft can help you and your family build a picture over time of what you are allergic to, when you have experienced eczema flare-ups, how they impact your daily life, and what you do to minimise the risk.

MyLiferaft automatically displays allergies within the appropriate sections i.e. a food allergy will be displayed in the food section and a medication allergy in the medication section.  When you update your information you can detail which treatment(s) you use to relieve or treat symptoms and what others should do if you are suffering from an allergic reaction.  By using the trackers to keep a record of symptoms and triggers, this can help identify the cause of your eczema flare-up and/or allergic reaction. You can also share this information with people in your care circle so they know how to recognise if you are suffering from an allergic reaction, what they can do to help reduce your exposure to allergens, or what to do should you need help.

Resources & Support

The MyLiferaft website has a dedicated Allergy section in its online Resources where you can find information and links to different organisations that offer help, support and advice for people with eczema.  Below are some additional websites that may also help you:

The National Eczema Society 

Allergy UK

British Skin Foundation

British Association of Dermatologists

If you think that MyLiferaft could support you and/or a family member to manage their eczema, then sign up for a FREE account today.

 

Additional Note: please note that MyLiferaft is an online solution to help manage your health, care and well-being.  The information in this blog has been adapted from several of the websites listed in the Resources paragraph.  For further help and advice on eczema, please refer to your GP.

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.

Try MyLiferaft for FREE

MyLiferaft

If you think that MyLiferaft 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.

 

World Alzheimer’s Month

World Alzheimer’s Month

World Alzheimer’s Month takes place every September to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.  Organised by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), World Alzheimer’s Month unites opinion leaders, people with dementia, their carers and family, medical professionals, researchers and the media from all around the world.

 

MyLiferaft - WAM

 

The ADI says ‘Having a globally coordinated awareness Month and Day (21st September) sends a strong message to governments and policy makers alerting them of the fact that dementia is a serious health issue which will have serious implications on services and health systems around the world as the world’s population grows older.’  For example, did you know that every 3 seconds someone around the world develops dementia and that this year, over 50 million people globally have dementia.

The MyLiferaft team are passionate about getting people talking about Alzheimer’s and dementia – to understand what it is and what it isn’t – and for people to see the person behind the disease. We believe it is important to build on what people with dementia can still do and the contributions they can still make. The tools and resources within MyLiferaft enable people who suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s to have more control over their life and share this information with family, friends, carers, medical professionals who are involved with their care. Using MyLiferaft, people can record and track information on their progress, meetings they have had, what they have been doing, how they have been feeling; reducing the worry and stress of not being able to remember things as well.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

According to Alzheimer’s Society, there are more than 520,000 people in the UK with the disease and for those less aware of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, they explain 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.”

 

MyLiferaft - WAM

 

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.

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, your focus is 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. For example, this can involve simplifying tasks and chores or establishing a daily routine at home for all to follow.  Alzheimer’s Disease International have put together a list of tips that have worked for other carers.

Support available for those with Alzheimer’s disease and their families

 

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool - Better Care

 

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:

The MyLiferaft website also has an extensive list of resources available to you which specialise’s in Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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, or 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  Cafés

Memory Cafés 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. More and more Memory Cafés are opening up across the county, to find out where your local Memory Café is, 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 both you and the person you are caring for whilst allowing you to have some time to yourself. There are some specialist dementia day care centres, while others may cater for people with mild dementia.

MyLiferaft Supporting Alzheimer’s & Dementia

MyLiferaft

 

As carers of those with additional needs, we know how useful MyLiferaft can be in supporting people with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. By bringing together information about the individual’s condition and medication, tracking their progress, health, mood and sharing this information with different healthcare professionals involved in their care, MyLiferaft can be a valuable support tool. Using MyLiferaft to manage all the healthcare information can help to:

  • Avoid repeating yourself to different people in your extended care network
  • Find information quickly, easily to fill in forms, and be prepared for meetings and assessments
  • Keep your care network up to date on your loved one’s needs and how they are doing
  • Support your loved one to lead a fuller life and stay well
  • Manage the changes that happen throughout your loved one’s life
  • Share information with people who are part of the care / support circle
  • Engage the wider support teams including health, social care and medical professionals to ensure continuity of care

If you think that MyLiferaft could support you and your family through Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, then try it for FREE today by signing up for your Premium Account.

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

 

  1. 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.
  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 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.
  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 your lecturers personally, explaining in your own words how your condition may affect their classes and what they can do to help.

Where to find additional information

 

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool - Resources

 

There are lots of websites available that can give you additional help and support for you and your family:

BBC Back to School 

Special Needs Jungle

The School Run

Autism Network

MyLiferaft also have a Back to School section in their Resources

 

MyLiferaft

Try Liferaft for FREE:

If you think that MyLiferaft 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.

 

Tips for SEN Teachers

Tips for SEN Teachers

 My Liferaft - Parent & Child

 

Even though we are only a few weeks through the school Summer holidays, many teachers, teaching assistants and parents will be thinking about school starting in September and the needs of the many children that will need additional support.

Talking to parents or carers is not always straightforward – and difficult conversations with parents of children with additional needs can sometimes become fraught for both sides. Nicola Murgatroyd, CEO and founder of MyLiferaft, knows how difficult these conversations can be as she cared for her daughter Faith, who had many complex medical and care needs, for over 20 years.

Know the needs

SEN teachers have regular conversations with parents and carers. Several say that they can find parents’ evening difficult, because some teachers do not seem to know or fully understand their child’s needs.

Understandably, it can get parents’ backs up when teachers say things like, “he needs to work on his spellings” when the child has a diagnosis or dyslexia. Equally, give, “she needs to learn to concentrate more”, a miss when speaking to the parent of a child with ADHD.

Parents are well aware of their child’s diagnoses, difficulties and differences. What they want to hear is what actual progress has been made and what strategies could help their child to progress further.

Watch your wording

Be mindful of your language. Avoid using words such as “slow” or “behind”, as these can have negative connotations. Replace them with “needs additional thinking time” or “is catching his peers up”.

Be positive

Parents of children with additional needs can, unfortunately, be used hearing a lot of negative feedback. So, try to start with something positive if you can – and be genuine as there is nothing worse than a disingenuous compliment. A good mantra to try and remember is “always start with what the child can do, not what they can’t”.

Keep the ‘teacher voice’ in check

Teachers are used to having to make quick judgements about situations and exerting authority which is mostly fine in the classroom. However, it helps to not apply the same approach when talking to parents. Some parents may have had very bad experiences of school and could be apprehensive about meeting you. It is essential for the child, the parents and the school that you get these parents on side – and quickly.

Be sensitive

Remember that parents of children with SEND may be facing all kinds of challenges. Some will have had a battle in securing provision for their child and therefore may be more sensitive to any changes in that provision. A few may have taken time to accept the fact that their child has additional needs or even still be grieving for the child they thought they were going to have. The bottom line is that you do not know what it is like to be in their shoes (unless you have a child with additional needs), so the best thing you can do is be prepared to listen and to offer supportive ways of working together.

How can MyLiferaft Help?

 

MyLiferaft

 

As Nicola said “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.”

If you are a parent carer, then read the dedicated page we have on our website to find out more about how MyLiferaft can help you.

If you are a teacher, watch Sophia’s Story to see why Nicola Murgatroyd feels so passionately about MyLiferaft

Sign up for a FREE MyLiferaft Premium Account today!

Resources for SEN Teachers

 

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool - Resources

 

Summer Holiday Activities!

Summer Holidays!

In the infamous words of Alice Cooper…..schools out for Summer!!  No more school run, no more missing pencil cases, no more cry’s of ‘where is my sports kit / recorder / packed lunch / homework’ – tick as appropriate!

 

MyLiferaft - School Holidays

Activities

You’ve made it through the school year and now you have a long, hot (hopefully!) Summer trying to think up activities to keep everyone happy – including you!  Whether you are a working parent, or a stay-at-home parent, it pays to plan ahead if you can.  Lots of the activities we talk about are suitable for children with additional needs or learning difficulties.  Be led by your child’s imagination – and of course the weather!

MyLiferaft have a great section in their Resources for ideas and suggestions to help you through the next few weeks, however here are a few more to add to the list!

  • Have a Mini-Masterchef competition and make sure you include tidying up as part of the end result!
  • Create some puppets out of old socks and let the children make up a puppet show for you
  • If the weather is not so great, pull the curtains, get out the pop-corn and have a movie afternoon at home
  • If you have a garden, vegetable plot or allotment, get the children to help with the digging, weeding and collecting your harvest
  • Use the internet to find what you have in your kitchen to make up science experiments (this one is a favourite with one of the Dad’s in the MyLiferaft team!)

Keeping Cool

 

MyLiferaft - Ice Lolly

 

Hopefully the sunshine that we experienced in June and July will continue into the school holidays….!  There have been lots of Top Tips on the television, radio and in newspapers about keeping cool, however here are a few more from the team here:

  • Half fill children’s water bottles with ice-cubes so they stay cooler for longer
  • Use freezer ice sachets in picnic and packed lunches to keep food cold if freezer blocks are too large
  • Keep sun-tan and after-sun in the fridge (this is a favourite of the team!)
  • Join your children in the paddling pool, even if you just dip your feet in! The water can also be used for watering plants, so you are even recycling as well as staying safe!
  • Fill a hot water bottle……wait for it……….with ice cubes & cold water!

Other Activity Resources

The Imagination Tree 

Henry Organisation 

Money Saving Expert 

Change For Life 

The Mum Educates 

Be A Fun Mum 

About MyLiferaft

 

MyLiferaft

 

MyLiferaft is a way to stay on top of all the information that comes with caring for your child – and share it with the people who need it.  It’s a secure place online where you can keep and update all the details about your child’s health, care and well-being. Using a tablet, laptop or phone, you can keep your care network up to date, on screen or on paper. You decide who gets what information and when.

MyLiferaft was created by technology entrepreneur Nicola Murgatroyd. Her eldest daughter had complex special needs and Nicola faced real problems managing her care effectively.  “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.  Advances in technology mean that there are now ways to make life easier for everyone, whatever their circumstances, and that’s what we have created with MyLiferaft – an online tool to manage all aspects of modern day living.”

To try a MyLiferaft Premium Account for FREE, click here

Find Out About MyLiferaft

MyLiferaft

MyLiferaft is a way to stay on top of all the information that comes with caring for your child or loved one – and share it with the people who need access to that information.  It’s a secure place online where you can keep and update all the details about your child’s health, care and well-being. Using a tablet, laptop or phone, you can keep your care network up-to-date, on screen or on paper. You decide who gets what information and when.

 

MyLiferaft

 

MyLiferaft was created by technology entrepreneur Nicola Murgatroyd. Her eldest daughter had complex special needs and Nicola faced real problems managing her care effectively.  “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.  Advances in technology mean that there are now ways to make life easier for everyone, whatever their circumstances, and that’s what we have created with MyLiferaft – an online tool to manage all aspects of modern day living.”

How can MyLiferaft help a Parent Carer?

Parent carers are on their feet all day every day and have to keep endless amounts of information about their child to hand, usually on bits of paper, in notebooks, in their head, in care files and many other places, including on the fridge door!  Keeping track of everything and updating information with changes and progress is hard work. MyLiferaft is a simple, easy to use, online tool, that can help parent carers store, organise and manage all the information they have about their child – personal information, medical history, likes/dislikes, and much more.

By storing key information about your child in MyLiferaft, you instantly benefit from:

  • No longer needing to repeat yourself to multiple people in your child’s care network
  • Finding information quickly and easily to fill in documents, forms, assessments
  • Being better prepared for meetings and assessments
  • Keeping your child’s care network up to date with their health and wellbeing progress and changes
  • Supporting and enabling your child to lead a fuller life

With MyLiferaft, parent carers have more control over the information about their child and can be involved in key decisions about their care. The child will benefit by feeling looked after and supported by people who understand their needs, likes and dislikes. Features within MyLiferaft can ensure consistency in your child’s care and support them when transitioning. As the parent carer, you can decide who to share information with about your child; enabling you to work with carers, support workers and professionals so that you can determine together what goals and targets to set.

 

MyLiferaft - Caring Support Tool

 

How can MyLiferaft help individuals?

Individuals who are living independently and/or managing their care themselves are likely to have information about their health and care needs stored in files, pieces of paper, notebooks to name a few. They are trying to manage their daily life, keeping up with appointments, filling in endless forms and repeating their needs and medical history to multiple healthcare professionals.

By storing all this information in MyLiferaft, the individual has all their care, health and well-being information (current, historical and future) in one place. With MyLiferaft they:

  • Are prepared with up-to-date information that can be accessed before, during and
    after assessments and meetings
  • Have consistent, timely, accurate information that can be shared amongst their care team to ensure the best quality of care
  • Decide what information they share, with whom, and when; either online or in a report
  • Can communicate with their care and social network and help them to understand their needs better
  • Record, track and monitor changes in health, mood, activities
  • Set their own goals and monitor progress

 

MyLiferaft - Individual

Key Features of MyLiferaft

MyLiferaft is a secure, online filing system for organising, managing and tracking personal, health, well-being and care information about an individual or a person being cared for. Once stored in MyLiferaft, this information can be accessed from home, whilst in a healthcare meeting or out with a friend, using a pc/desktop, laptop, tablet, phone.

Health and well-being information is constantly changing, and by using MyLiferaft, you can ensure information about your needs or the person you are caring for, can be continuously updated and added to. But MyLiferaft is more than a static filing system, some of the features include the ability to:

  • Create Care Circles and Social Circles – enabling you to share information with the people who support and care for you or your child
  • Create Goals, Actions and Reviews to manage progress and achievements
  • Easily access information to complete documents, assessments, and pre-populate forms (such as the DLA)
  • Share contact information between your care team through messaging, alerts and notifications
  • Set data Trackers to monitor repeat measurements (mood, blood glucose, peak-flow, calories etc.)
  • Share information and reports with your Care and/or Social circles in real-time or by email
  • Enter information using Voice Dictation on tablet or mobile devices
  • Share Calendar information to ensure everyone is aware of appointments and events
  • Lookup upcoming Events and use our online Resource database to help you get the best out of your life
  • Add social media accounts and they will update automatically

MyLiferaft is continually developing. Some of the features coming soon include …

  • Mobile access and document management on the go – upload documents wherever you are so you can organise, update, track and manage your paperwork
  • Access and record information with Alexa – giving you and your care team easy access to details and a simple way to keep information up to date
  • Enhancements to Social and Care Circles including shared To-Do and Task Lists

For more information about MyLiferaft and to see if it can help you, watch Sophia’s Story on our website.

You can try MyLiferaft for FREE – just click here.

Click here to contact a member of the MyLiferaft team if you have any questions.