IL Newsletter, 4th April


Hello and welcome to the latest Independent Living newsletter.

Contents:

1. Foolish Intro

2. Some Developments in Mobility Aids

3. Obesity and Malnutrition

4. Getting Out and About

5. Working Tax Credit For Carers

6. Update on Showcase Pages

7. Latest News Snippets

"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

1. Foolish Intro

On Sunday, as I started writing this newsletter, I picked my way through the news more cautiously than usual, given the date. I was nevertheless taken in by a story about a new drive to ensure that older people share the benefits of the Olympic legacy, in terms of increased fitness. The idea that pensioners should be encouraged to spend more time being physically active makes absolute sense, even on 1 April, though perhaps a session on the treadmill in the post office before being allowed to collect your pension is a bit excessive. And making Eric Pickles the face of the new initiative certainly flagged up the Fool-ish origins of the story!

It was interesting to see, however, that certain news stories which sounded quite implausible, actually turned out to be correct: for example, the self-driving car which was spoofed from BMW to NASCAR, also featured in a genuine story from Google, who launched a video of a blind man, Steve Mahan, behind the wheel of a computer-controlled vehicle. It's an encouraging sign of the work going into helpful technology that one day should open up possibilities that currently seem unreachable for people with all sorts of impairments.

Return to top

"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

2. Some Developments In Mobility Aids

On Independent Living, we focus our attention on the technology that's available now, to meet different needs. One interesting new development in stair climbing solutions you can find on the site bridges the gap between those of us who can get up and down stairs without any problems, and those who need a stairlift.

StairAID is a discreet mechanical aid, which combines an attractive handrail with a movable aluminium grip, which slides along a toothed rack and locks onto the teeth when needed to provide support going up or down stairs. It can be used outdoors, as well as in, and can easily be removed when you move home or no longer need it. You can read more about it on the StairAID showcase page.

Staying with mobility, some interesting new developments in walkers. Uniscan, innovators of the original A-frame folding walker with built-in seat, have come up with a new design. The Duo is designed for people who can't really stand unsupported to use a walker, but aren't ready for a wheelchair. It has forearm support, providing more stability and safety for the user - and you can read more about it here.

Return to top

"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

3. Obesity And Malnutrition

Regular readers will know that we are lucky enough to have regular contributions to Independent Living from Mary Farmer, a retired NHS dietitian. The Nutrition Blogspot is the place to read useful and interesting articles about food, eating, and the role it plays in health and illness. If you haven't checked it out lately, you can read all about BMI (body mass index), and its shortcomings; a really useful series of Questions and Answers, which can help with identifying the reasons why people may go off their food, start losing weight and becoming undernourished; and Screening for Malnutrition, which explains MUST, the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool, including details of how to obtain the tool, which was developed by BAPEN (The British Association For Parenteral And Enteral Nutrition).

Return to top

"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

4. Getting Out and About

Last week was so lovely and sunny, it inspired thoughts of days out. Now many of us are not only back in our winter woollies, but also wielding the snow shovels – so perhaps it's best to stick with virtual travel for a while. To inspire you for when the weather does improve, Gowrings Mobility, the vehicle conversion specialists, has a programme of Roadshows throughout the year: entertaining and interesting days out, which are free for anyone with impaired mobility and their carers. Coming up in April and May, RHS Hyde Hall, near Chelmsford in Essex; Bristol Zoo Gardens; and RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey.

And here is a link to the motoring section on Independent Living, where you can see the latest in accessible car travel.

Return to top

"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

5.Working Tax Credit For Carers

A last-minute reminder for any carers who receive Working Tax Credit. As you probably know, the rules change from 6th April, with the general principle that couples working part-time have to increase their joint hours from 16 to 24. However, a concession was obtained for people with disabilities and carers who qualify for Carers' Allowance, so that the minimum necessary weekly hours worked remain at 16.

It is important to contact the Tax Credit Office, to make sure that you continue to receive the payments you are entitled to. Many staff are still quite confused by the changes and exemptions, and it's up to you to check that you don't miss out. Apart from anything else, payments can only be backdated for a month, rather than three months as previously, so any delay could cost you benefits. These are the contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline and Office:

Helpline 0345 300 3900

Text phone 0345 300 3909

Website http://www.direct.gov.uk/taxcredits

Return to top

"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

6. Update On Showcase Pages

Sherborne Upholstery's new showcase page highlights just a few from their extensive range of automatic rise and recliners, manual and powered recliners, high backed fireside chairs, and reclining sofas. Manufactured in their own factories, in contemporary and traditional designs, the seating is available with hundreds of different upholstery options, including leathers.

Camelot Furniture has been manufacturing in Sheffield for 65 years, and supplies manual and powered easy chairs to care homes, hospitals, social services and private individuals. They have bariatric chairs for users weighing up to 50 stone, and their range, shown on their new showcase page, now also includes adjustable beds.

LifeMax are well-known for their innovative products which employ technology to make life easier. Their new page showcases a great range of talking watches for men, women and children, which have been developed with input from the RNIB, which also receives a royalty for each watch sold. Another interesting product shown on their page is a telephone-based care alert with panic alarm, enabling the user to summon one or more designated friends or family members if they need help.

Wilson Healy Conversions specialises in upfront wheelchair travel, with patented conversions which leave the boot and back seats intact. Their neat side entry ramp allows a wheelchair user to wheel straight into the front seat position, in less than 40 seconds. Their new page shows the latest Doblo conversion, as well as the original Kia Sedona, which they can now help with sourcing nearly-new, since production of this model has now come to an end.

AKW also has a stylish new page on Independent Living. As well as their level access showering solutions, they also have revolutionary electric care showers such as Luda, which offers safe showering for people with limited dexterity, mobility problems, dementia, and visual impairment. Accessible kitchens are an important part of their portfolio, with the made-to-measure Independence range and the flatpack Worcester offering a choice of bespoke luxury or stylish value for money.

Return to top

"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

7. Latest News Snippets

Squirrel Medical has been granted a patent for their revolutionary mattress which prevents pressure ulcers whilst also addressing the dangerous phenomenon of bed falls. The Squirrel Diamond uses proven dynamic technology that has been remodelled to provide a stable 12.5 cm depth, and so fits all 1.3 million nursing beds in the EU, in a safe and legal manner. You can read more about it here.

Wet room and bathroom specialist PROcare has just achieved ISO 9001:2008, awarded by BSI for achieving rigourous quality and management standards throughout all departments of the company. You can see more about their services and their product range, here.

Disability Somerset 2012 is a free exhibition which takes place on Thursday, May 10 (10am to 5pm), at the Sedgemoor Auction Centre, just off junction 24 of the M5, near Bridgwater. It is the county's only major exhibition devoted to independent living, so provides a valuable opportunity for families and care professionals in the west of England to catch up with more than 100 organisations who will be showing their products and services. You can register for free tickets here

And that's it for now! I hope you have an excellent Easter break, whatever the weather, and would love to hear from you, if you have any feedback about anything in this newsletter, or indeed any other aspect of Independent Living.

As always, you can comment at the bottom of this newsletter; send me an e-mail; send a tweet on Twitter @IndLiving if brief is your style; or add your thoughts to our Facebook page.

Best wishes,

Frances

Return to top