Helping my Grandparents to Live Independently in Perthshire – My Life as a Carer
We’re sharing some of the helpful resources we’ve picked up along the way as a full-time carer for two elderly and differently-abled family members to help make the caring experience better for everyone.
By Kyle Wilson | June 2023
As a carer for two elderly and disabled family members over the last five years, there have been many helpful discoveries along the way that have made life a little bit better for me and the people I care for.
Below, you’ll discover the resources, programs, and equipment that continue to help my grandparents to live independently in their own home.
1. Bed Leaving Sensor Mat | PKC Occupational Therapy
This simple to use sensor mat is placed on the floor at the bedside and will alert the carer via a pager when the cared-for is leaving their bed. Since this mat is connected to a pager, the alert settings include a vibration option which is especially helpful for carers who are hard-of-hearing or deaf giving them more peace of mind.
If you live in Perth and Kinross, contact the local council community alarm team or the early intervention team on 0345 30 111 20 to discover more.
2. Community Alarm | Perth & Kinross Council
The Perth & Kinross Council community alarm service is free and provides peace of mind to carers and those they care for. A wearable alarm can be fitted on the wrist or as a pendant around the neck and can be pressed if the wearer has had a fall and needs emergency assistance.
The community alarm service operates 24 hours a day and the team will respond to calls through a central voice monitor which can be placed in the wearers bedroom.
If the wearer is not responding, the community alarm team will visit their home, deal with the emergency, and alert their family/carer.
Then, if you think you are eligible, contact the Perth & Kinross Council early intervention team to book an assessment on 0345 30 111 20.
Take a look at the Perth & Kinross Council smart flat and discover some of the technology that could help the people you care for to live more independently.
3. Joint Equipment Loan Service | Perth & Kinross Council
Following a care needs assessment, a Perth and Kinross Council social worker or occupational therapy team can make a referral to the Joint Equipment Loan Service to request for suitable installation of equipment in the care-for’s home to help them to continue to live safely and independently at home.
The free equipment that you might qualify for can range from electric bath seats, stair lifts, hand rails, front/back door wheelchair ramps and hand rails, and so much more.
Discover more about the Joint Equipment Loan Service on the Perth and Kinross Council website.
4. Motion Sensors | For Hallways & Stairs
Help people to navigate their home easily with a motion sensor that shares simple pre-recorded audio messages whenever motion is detected.
Help people to navigate their home and brighten up those darker spaces with these rechargeable motion sensor lights.
Help people to navigate their home and brighten up those darker spaces with these plug-in motion sensor night lights. These will automatically turn on at night time whenever motion is detected.
5. Pull/Push Taps | For Bathrooms & Kitchens
We recently switched from traditional screw taps to lever taps. Lever taps are simple to use and require only a small amount of movement to switch between hot, cold, and mixed water flows making them safer for the user making them a practical alternative for those with less dexterity or grip in their hands and wrists.
Simply contact your local, reputable plumber to discover whether or not they could fit these for you.
6. Amazon Alexa and Ring Doorbell Devices
Amazon Alexa is a great tool to add to the home if you care for someone, especially if they are visually impaired. By using their voice, they can listen to their favourite music, books, radio stations, news, and even call family and friends whenever they wish without the need to touch a single button.
For emergencies, you can set up an emergency contact. Once this is in place, when they say’ “Alexa, call for help!”, the device will automatically call their emergency contact.
Carers can download the Amazon Alexa app and use the ‘drop-in’ feature which allows the carer to use their mobile phone to talk to the person they care for through the Alexa device from any location. The cared-for will simply begin hearing the carers voice speaking through the Alexa Device without needing to press any buttons.
The Amazon Ring doorbell has a built in security camera so that carers and family members can know who is coming to the door or who is accessing the home without anyone knowing or if an emergency occurred, the camera would also capture that event as well so that whomever needed to know could find out what happened and when it occurred.
When we’re dealing with vulnerable seniors, the added security and peace of mind is worth it.
7. Bed Guard | For the Bedroom
These bed guards help those we care for to get in and out of bed but can also help to prevent people from falling out of bed.
8. Touch Lamps | For Bedrooms & Living Rooms
For those of us who are visually impaired, touch lamps can help us to easily switch on/off our lights.
9. Dementia Clock | For Bedrooms & Living Rooms
Help people to easily remember the day, date, and time with these visual and dementia friendly clocks. These clocks work great even for those of us without a dementia diagnosis.
10. Portable Bedside Table | For the Bedroom
These portable tables are ‘wheelie’ handy, especially on the days when the people we care for may need to spend more time recovering from health issues. We can make it easier for them to eat, drink, and even play games.
11. Bath Steps
If you don’t have a walk-in shower, try adding a bath step to help the people you care for to more easily and safely get in and out of the bath.
12. Anti-slip Bath Mats
Minimise the risks of slips and falls in the bathroom with a good anti-slip bath mat. They absorb water fast and provide a strong grip for added safety and stability.
13. Raised Pillow Wedge
These pillow wedges are great at helping to reduce acid reflux and GERD symtoms as well as reducing neck and back pain, snoring, and respiratory problems.
14. Water Bottles
15. Simple Radio | For Bathrooms & Kitchens
A very simple radio that works well.
Technology that helps to make us feel more connected with other people and communities locally, regionally, nationally, and worldwide can do wonders for our mental health, most especially for those of us with visual impairments.
We found most of the reviews that indicate that the antenna and tuner work well enough to listen to the radio in the shower to be accurate. Personally, we like the three knob simplicity, especially for older users with visual impairments (differences), and cognitive limitations.
16. Walking Frame + Noodles
Swimming pool noodles with hollow centers can cut open on one side in a straight line with a box cutter or big scissors so that they can be fitted around the metal bars of a walker (zimmer frame) or a rollator to reduce the shock, noise, or impact when the user runs into anything with them.
Cut it to fit the metal bar, then cut it open in a straight line on one side, then fit it around the metal bar or legs, and tape it closed at the top, middle, and bottom by going completely around the outside of the noodle with strong tape like duct tape or gaffers tape in different colors.
Discover more on Amazon.
17. Electric Recliner Chair | For The Living Room
These electric recliner chairs are great for those of us with mobility issues as they can help us relax with their adjustable positions. They can even help us to get out of the chair without having to put too much strain on our knees by adjusting the tilt axis.
Discover more on Amazon.
18. NHS Chair Exercises
YogaVista has great chair yoga exercise classes on YouTube.
19. NHS Eatwell Guide
As we discover more about nutrition for and with the people we care for, we learn to focus most of our attention on adding better nutrition and less attention on subtracting empty calories from our meals which helps to keep the food experience fun, engaging, and rewarding for us and the people we care for.
20. Meal Planner
Answering the question, ‘what should I eat?’, doesn’t need to leave you feeling baffled and frustrated. In fact, when you have the right information and motivation, you can feel good about making heathly choices. Check out this guide on eating well for older people by AgeUK.
Try to involve the people you care for throughout this process, including food preparation if possible. Feeling part of something so essential to everyday life is important to our mental, emotional, and physical health. What people help to make they are more open to trying and eating.
We recently discovered and learned how to make blueberry and banana oat pancakes which is a very fun, simple, and nutritious recipe for all the family to help make together.
Discover more about making healthy food choices for older people at Food Standards Scotland. Perth & Kinross Council also offer a meal delivery service for those who are unable to shop and prepare meals for themselves.
21. Download the Jointly App
Have you thought about sharing the care you provide? The Jointly app is a good app for coordinating care and communicating between carers, especially in the UK. It combines messaging, to-do lists, calendars, notes, and more and allows you to invite people into your circle of care.
Discover more about how Jointly works with their user guide.
22. Set-up a MyPKC Account
The MyPKC service from the Perth & Kinross Council helps us to manage all of our council services in one place. If you care for someone senior, they may not have an email address which is the one thing the council requires to enable you to register for online services.
To solve this, seek permission from the person you care for to help them set up their own email address. Then, come back and help them register with MyPKC using their new email address.
23. Care Needs Assessment | Perth & Kinross Council
The Perth and Kinross council can provide you with a social worker who will work with you and the cared-for to assess their care needs which is called a care needs assessment. This usually involves having a casual chat to discover how the cared-for can be supported to live independently in their own home.
24. Self-Directed Support | Perth & Kinross Council
The Perth & Kinross Council self-directed support program provides carers with the ability to manage the support they need.
The council offer four options to choose from. Option one is the most flexible and puts the carer in complete control of how and when they want to arrange for support.
The other three options provide less control for the carer which can be good if the carer isn’t confident in directly managing council funds to arrange the support they need. For example, option two will allow the carer to choose the support they need and the council will arrange this on the carers behalf including the handling of any payments.
If you choose option one, the council will deposit funds into your bank account. This will require you to keep a record of how any funds are spent.
The Perth & Kinross Social Care Partnership Facebook page @MyCommunityPK is a good page for carers to stay updated on local developments and events.
25. Respite/Short Breaks
Help yourself by taking regular breaks from your caring role by contacting your social worker to arrange for an Adult Carer Support Plan. This plan can help you and your social worker to understand your care needs which will help to work out how much respite you might be entitled to.
Discover more about organising respite and short breaks by visiting the support for unpaid carers page on the Perth and Kinross Council website.
26. PKAVS Time4Me Fund
The fund, awarded to PKAVS by Shared Care Scotland, was surprisingly straightforward with an easy to fill in application form and the board who oversee the applications were quick to make their decisions.
Overall, Kyle highly recommends other local unpaid carers in Rattray, Blairgowrie, and greater Perthshire to organise a short break for themselves this year using the Time4Me fund to get up to £300 towards their short break.
For Kyle, it was a welcome help, especially during the current cost of living crisis where the average unpaid carer is struggling financially.
Where would you go? What could you get up to? How will this benefit you and your life?
27. Disability Car
Have you thought about taking the people you care about for a day trip to that beach they love and used to visit in their younger years? Or perhaps they just want to get out of the house so anywhere will be good?
Well, if the cared-for receives certain qualifying benefits such as Disability Living Allowance, you could help them sign up to the Motability Scheme and create an account on their website.
From there, you can help them begin the process of searching for a suitable disabilty car. Once a car is found, the cared-for’s monthly or weekly qualifying benefit will be used to pay for the monthly costs of the car.
However, if the cared-for is unable to sign-up to the scheme themselves, you could act on their behalf with their expressed permission. Currently, this route will require the carer to contact the Department for Work and Pensions to ask to become an appointee. An appointee is someone who has permission to manage someones benefits on their behalf and usually requires the carer to provide proof of Power of Attorney.
Once you have become an appointee, you can then move forward with the Motability Scheme and that disability car.
28. VisionPK – Equipment to help with sight and hearing loss.
VisionPK have a very friendly and knowledgable team that have helped us and those like us to access a range of support and free equipment to help us continue to live independently. These range from talking watches, talking books, social groups, bright raised bumps to help those with sightloss to use their light switches, cookers and washing machines, TV echo loops, help with TV License discounts and so much more.
29. Hearing Aid Clinic | Blairgowrie Cottage Hospital
Blairgowrie Cottage Hospital provide those of us who wear hearing aids the opportunity to attend a drop-in clinic on the last Wednesday of each month between 2-4pm for free batteries and minor fixes to our hearing aids. A super helpful service!
30. Local Library Card | Culture Perth & Kinross
Save some money and join your local library. Borrow books, ebooks, and gain access to free WiFi, computers, and so much more.
If you’re already a member, theres no time like the present to rediscover the benefits that come with your library card.
If the person you care for is unable to access their local library because of mobility issues, visual impairment, or are a carer at home, you could benefit from the mobile library service.
31. Fire Safety | Scottish Fire Service
Doing this can help you to create an emergency plan, have your current fire and smoke alarms tested, and to ask any questions that you may have. If you care for someone who is hard of hearing or deaf, you can request equipment to help the cared-for know when the fire alarm is sounding. These devices can even connect to their existing community alarm system if they have one.
Until next time, remember, sharing is caring.
Got a question, a thought, or an idea that you think might help Kyle and other carers? Share it with our community on social media or email us and we’ll do our best to get back to you.
More Helpful Links & Resources
Check out the links below:
Get familiar with the mental health & wellbeing resources on the Perth & Kinross council website – https://www.pkc.gov.uk/article/20587/Mental-health-and-wellbeing-resources
- NHS INFORM
- NHS 24 SELF-HELP GUIDES
- CARE INFORMATION SCOTLAND
- The British Psychological Society (BPS)
0116 254 9568
The BPS provides access to a list of clinical and counselling psychologists offering private therapy services.
- Carers Direct
0300 123 1053 (helpline, 9am–8pm Monday–Friday, 11am–4pm Saturday and Sunday)
www.carersdirectenquiry.serco.com/newcarersemail (contact form) Carers Direct provides advice for people who need help with their caring role and want to know what options are available to them.
- Carers Trust
0300 772 9600
Carers Trust works to improve support, services and recognition for anyone caring for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems.
- Carers UK
0808 808 7777 (helpline, 9am–6pm Monday–Friday)
Carers UK provides information and advice about caring alongside practical and emotional support for carers.
- Counselling Directory
0333 325 250 (10am–4pm Monday–Friday)
The Counselling Directory website includes a searchable database of counsellors and psychotherapists. It also has information about how talking therapies may help.
- Dementia UK
0800 888 6678 (9am–9pm Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm Saturday and Sunday)
Dementia UK provides specialist dementia support for families through its Admiral Nurse service.
0808 2000 247 (helpline, 24-hour)
www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/en/contact-us (contact form)
Refuge is a charity that supports victims of violence and abuse, including sexual violence.
CareBlair created ScotsVote UK to help the young and young at heart learn how to register to vote and participate in elections as informed voters.
Use this page on ScotsVote UK to discover and connect with your local councillors across the twelve wards that make up Perth and Kinross council.
Some research papers that have inspired us:
- Stanford Centre on Longevity (America) source: https://news.stanford.edu/2016/02/11/longevity-sightlines-project-021116/
- Alzheimers Drug Trials: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5866992/
- Dementia. Is it preventable? – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7346354/
- Read the article that reports on dietary carbohydrate, insulin resistance and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27582035/
- The Mediterranean diet, micronutrients and macronutrients, and MRI measures of cortical thickness and the affects of these in elderly people – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27461490/