MyLiferaft Blog

Beat the Christmas Stress

A Jolly Holly Christmas!

 

 

Christmas should be a time of good cheer, festive family get together’s, the giving and receiving of thoughtful gifts and delicious food, however we are all realistic enough to know that this is not always the case!

 

MyLiferaft - Christmas Stress

As the big Ho Ho Ho gets nearer, the pressure can start to mount:

  • Have you remembered to write all the Christmas cards?
  • What about a present for the baby-sitter, dog walker, awkward colleague?!
  • Do you have enough wrapping paper and Sellotape; where did you last spot the scissors?!
  • If you are hosting Christmas Lunch, do you have any vegetarians to cater for?
  • Where are the spare bulbs for the fairy lights?!

Sometimes even the experts need a little help staying holly and jolly, so we’ve put together a few Top Tips to try and stop the stress before it gets too much

Write a To Do List – this doesn’t work for everyone, but if you are a ‘List Person’, take the time to write your list, add to it as you think of new things and then feel a sense of achievement when you tick something off

Take a break from the family – it is absolutely OK to take a ‘time out’ from your family and spend a few minutes by yourself.  Whether it is your immediate family or a distance relative, there are going to be points during the festive period when leaving the room is most definitely going to be good for your well-being!

Spend time ‘unplugged’ – lots of presents are going to be electronic, battery operated, make noises and if all of your family are using them at the same time, they could drive you all to distraction and you spend precious time not truly being together.  Allocate some ‘turn off’ time and go for a walk, play a game or crash out round a Christmas movie with a selection box – just make sure you do something together!

Make time for exercise – for many, the festive season is a time of excessive eating and drinking and even the strictest of exercisers may take some time off!  This is OK, but remember that even going for a walk with your family counts as exercise as well as spending time together!  Exercising will lift your mood, make you feel better and burn off a few turkey calories!

Avoid excessive alcohol – most de-stressing articles will tell you to avoid alcohol altogether, but let’s be realistic, it is Christmas and the odd over-indulgence is going to happen!  Try not to do over do the alcohol as it can hinder sleep, dehydrate you and make you more prone to stressful situations.  If you do partake, drink water steadily throughout the day as this will go some way to helping the situation.

Know when to stop – perfection is over-rated!  The Christmas holiday is about everyone and that includes you!  There will always be some last-minute hiccups on Christmas Eve and someone is bound to want something you don’t have for Christmas lunch, but take a deep breath and remember to enjoy yourself!

School Holidays

 

MyLiferaft - Festive Children

 

 

There is always that difficult few days between school breaking up and Father Christmas’s arrival where it can be difficult to keep your children entertained.  Don’t despair as MyLiferaft can help!  We’ve put together a list of activities for all ages and abilities that will keep you and children happy!

  • Make a Christmas wreath – you may be able to use a few bits from the garden or collect twigs, cones and foliage on a walk
  • If you are into baking, then baking some Christmas biscuits and then letting the children go mad decorating them is brilliant, albeit a little messy, but at least you have a treat for afternoon tea!
  • Snuggle up with your favourite Christmas movie – and don’t forget the snacks!
  • If you love crafts, then making Christmas bunting to hang round the house and in the children’s bedrooms could while away a few hours!
  • Make some paper snow-flakes to put on the windows

To see more ideas and suggestions for school holiday activities, see our Resources.  We would love to hear from you at info@myliferaft.com if you have a festive activity that you would like to share with the rest of the MyLiferaft community!

And Finally…!

Have fun!  Christmas is a time for family, friends, laughter and love, too much food and raiding the chocolates and mince pies!  If you recognise some of the things from our list above in advance, you will hopefully be prepared for them and manage to keep hold of your ‘ho ho ho’!  If things don’t go to plan, try not to worry about them – you could actually be making a fun memory you can talk about in years to come: “Remember that time that Mum set fire to the sprouts!

Lots of love & festive wishes from Nicola and the MyLiferaft team.

MyLiferaft supports your care and well-being online.  To find out how we could help you and those that you care for or that care for you, see www.myliferaft.com

 

MyLiferaft - Festive Holly

Carers Rights Day 2018

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. 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.

 

MyLiferaft - Self Care Week

 

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.

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?

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.

MyLiferaft

 

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 – Be A Buddy

Stop Bullying and Be A Buddy

The National Anti-Bullying Week kicks off in a few weeks’ time, but we wanted to focus on bullying as many children and their parents go back to school this week.  As we start a new term, it is possibly a time to reflect on the first 6-7 weeks of the new school year that started in September.  New friendships may have been made, new feelings of how seeing different groups of children behaving at school and in some cases, children being on the receiving end of bullying.

MyLiferaft - 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

Q&A With MyLiferaft Founder

Q&A With MyLiferaft Founder, Nicola Murgatroyd

A successful business entrepreneur, Nicola set up the first centralised electronic clinical trial records solution for the pharmaceutical industry in 1998 (leaving in 2011).  As a mother, Nicola’s 1st hand knowledge of looking after her daughter Faith, who had multiple complex special needs, created a desire to make sure other parents and carers in her position were better supported.  MyLiferaft started taking shape in 2014 and is now a successful personal management solution for care and health data belonging to the person, with data being owned by the person and shared with the care circle as well as health and social care professionals as required. 

What was the driving force behind developing MyLiferaft?

Wanting to help make the lives of those who are caring for someone, or themselves, better.  I’ve had first-hand experience of how exhausting it can be – people struggle on in a heroic way. It’s time to ensure that we use modern technology to help with care, and to help streamline services.

In your experience what was one of the biggest challenges you faced as a parent with a daughter who had complex special needs?

Balancing the needs of the whole family. When one member of the family necessarily requires huge amounts of additional time and energy, exhaustion quickly kicks in.

You mention about the constant repeating of information when visiting different specialists; how crucial was this in developing MyLiferaft?

It’s distressing, invasive and tiring to have to go over painful, very personal, information to strangers. I had to re-live the moment of learning that my daughter had been born with a profound disability over and over as each new professional came into the resulting large circle of people around us. With MyLiferaft, all that information is held in the system, ready to share without it bringing back the emotional pain quite so much. Crucially, up-to-date care information is also available ensuring continuity of care. With my daughter, I carried all the intellectual knowledge of her ways, likes, dislikes and how to look after her with me, either on paper but mostly in my head – with MyLiferaft this information can be captured in real time and relayed to others wherever you are. I’ve seen avoidable distress – people who are already in such a painful place, emotionally, physically or both, suffer even though everyone around them wants to do their best for them but can’t because they are just not aware. With Liferaft, carers get a better chance too, information is key to successful caring.

 

MyLiferaft - Sofia's Story

 

The Sofia’s Story video tells a strong message; was this based on your own experiences?

To an extent, yes it was and when I saw it for the first time, I realised how true and powerful it is.  We wanted to show visually how one person’s disability can affect so many people and how MyLiferaft can help bring all those people together through using an online system with the individual at the centre.

What was your background before launching MyLiferaft; what skills helped you?

For most of my life I was a stay at home Mum, though I had been given a good background in business before that working for the family firm. I was a bit of a late developer, and began my previous business in my forties. It was very fast growing and successful, and meeting unexpected challenges was a daily occurrence. Through looking after my daughter, I had developed good coping strategies, these without doubt helped me in my demanding business life.

Have there been any unexpected challenges when you launched MyLiferaft?

Communicating the requirements of a specialist product to the Software Developers who have to build it! Luckily, Matthew, our CTO, is brilliant at taking our ideas and translating them to the software team.

What have been the highs?

Working with a brilliant team, and seeing thoughts develop into a really good, useful product.

How do you see the portal developing?

What we have now is only the beginning – we are already working on accessibility, voice (Alexa) capability, and making condition specific versions, and have expanded the capability to self-populate forms such as Disability Living Allowance.

You are very active in your local community with local charities, can you tell us a bit about this?

When possible, I take my Carriage Driving pony (Fred) to the Isle of Wight Driving for the Disabled group where people enjoy forgetting about their disability for a while as they take the reins and trot around the beautiful grounds of Osbourne House.   I also support my colleague Gail, who works tirelessly with Pat A Happy Pony – we actually take my cute little miniature Shetlands into care homes and the faces of the residents are a delight to see!

 

MyLiferaft

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.