Seniors Helping Seniors

Sally from Seniors Helping Seniors, an in-home care service, tells us about how they are adapting to the coronavirus pandemic.

Every Seniors Helping Seniors visit is different because every client is different but food and nutrition has always been the backbone to our services. Most of our visits are scheduled around meal times and we frequently eat with our clients. How much nicer is it to sip water together than to be told “you must drink!”?

We have written about the process of re-igniting food memories and supporting people with frail appetites through food routines for the Malnutrition task force before.

Many clients tell us how they were bought a microwave when the cook of the family died. They quickly realise they hate microwaved food and how expensive it is!  

For one client, a carer cooks his liver and bacon, shepherd’s pie and bread and butter pudding just as he likes it once a week. He is getting more adventurous with his food requests every week and the carer says she’s on a learning curve now herself. 

Carers knowing how and what to cook is just one of the bonuses of matching carers to clients and them being of similar ages – there is an innate understanding around tastes and traditions.

One of the things that has changed during COVID-19 for us as a company, is there is a lot more shopping!  Shopping, sanitising shopping, packing the shopping away (mindful of the use-by dates) and cooking the shopping!

Usually our carers take clients out shopping for the social interaction. We shop local. Visiting the butchers, the green grocers, fishmonger with our clients and we work seasonal produce into the weekly menu.

Good nutrition and good hydration keeps people well. The memories food stimulates are great talking points and pillars for people to lean on. We use family recipes, favourite recipe books and we use the Nutrition Wheel. We are great believers of food as medicine right across our company and we are living proof of how food supports people through life’s ups and downs.

Our carers are experts by experience, so talking through weight management with tools like the Nutrition Wheel has been very helpful. We advocate for clients with GP’s and practise nurses and we follow their instructions in our clients’ homes.  People get into habits that need to be readdressed in later years. Swopping skimmed milk to semi skimmed or full milk and putting cream or custard back on the menu is usually a process but it pays dividends in smiles, stamina and physique.

The sensations of a slow cooked pot of food bubbling away in the kitchen, even if it’s in safety-first slow cooker are priceless.

During the crisis, safe home visits quickly became our focus. There is no going out for our vulnerable clients for the foreseeable future.  People who may otherwise forget to eat and drink and take their essential medication, and people who have an aversion to throwing away food even when it has passed it’s use by date, have visits from the same person to see through basic hygiene and to put routine and meaning into every day. 

Making shopping lists and meal planning is tailored to each appetite and it can be a lot of fun.  Our ethos of doing things with people and not for them remains key.

Baking with the tunes or a play on the radio is fun. We created recipes in imperial measurements which enabled clients to use scales they’d had tucked away and empowered them to make decisions and not to sit back.

Dignity, optimism and praise for a job well done creates self-worth. People will always eat more when they have made it themselves.

As a company, we split our region into teams, so one person shops for all the clients in one area. We work from home so there is no communal area to risk contaminating all who enter.  The shopping is carefully sanitised and re-packed. It’s picked up by the regular carer from outside the shopper’s home and it’s taken to the client on a usual visit. To limit the risk, there are no more trips to the shops than absolutely necessary, no more people handling the produce than absolutely necessary. Lots of gloves and lots of Milton!

We are working with the government, the NHS and the County Council initiatives like #KentTogether and thanks to the amazing carers we are readily available, we are supporting other care companies as well. The feedback has been wonderful:

“Thank you so much for everything…honestly you have been the most amazing agency I have had the pleasure to work with!”

For more information about working with Seniors Helping Seniors or requesting our services, find your local office here