A vision for Dutch Healthcare in 2040

This McKinsey report is a must read for anyone involved or indeed interested in healthcare in Ireland. It proposes the future of the Dutch model of healthcare and seeing as our health system aspires to this model, we can get an insight into what our own future is going to look like. It is set against the backdrop of the Dutch principle of equity of care being achieved but with costs rising in an unsustainable manner, what is it that needs to change?

The values that will guide future health systems are set out as



Health maintenance

Read the report here ………

Public appetite for widespread local defibrillator access is one step closer with HIQA examination

Servisource Healthcare Training are really interested to see the results of this feasibility study as on almost every CPR course there is a discussion around the local availability of defibrillators. With so many people trained to use such devices and the ‘easy to use’ mechanism a lot of the pieces are already in place. Nonetheless, going ahead without proper planning could turn into a red herring costing the taxpayer a lot of money without a valuable return on investment. It would be beneficial for a health economist to be on the panel examining feasibility as there are many other worthwhile initiatives pending in the healthcare sector. Being able to measure the benefit of the potential rollout is key in making the decision to go ahead or not. We’ll watch this space.

Getting a Job as a Healthcare Assistant

Getting a Job as a Healthcare Assistant

Getting a Job as a Healthcare Assistant

Healthcare assistants work as an aide to residents in their daily routine. Their role is both practical, helping residents with their daily activities e.g. washing, eating and getting around, and social, providing a reliable source of daily engagement. Across the continuum of care the emphasis on the varied aspects of the job changes, based on the differing care needs of users of the acute and community care systems.

The role has recently been consolidated, with a specified entry level, progression and responsibilities. Healthcare support at FETAC level 5 is the specified educational requirement in order to be considered for employment. Following up on this, vaccinations, Garda Vetting, references and an appropriate visa to work are all necessary before work can commence. Getting these in order can be time consuming and should be started at the early stages of the Healthcare Support course. Experience is the final requirement and although one of the educational modules covers a minimum of 30 days on the job experience, some acute care healthcare assistant roles require two years’ experience before beginning.

A large government initiative called ‘Momentum’ launched last year, providing free training to help jobseekers gain employment across a variety of sectors. A large number of applications were received for the Healthcare Support courses across the country and these are now coming to a close with the participants seeking employment within the health sector. As such we think it would be useful to begin a discussion on how well this program has met the needs of all involved. How well prepared do students feel entering the workplace and do Directors of Nursing find that new employees have the right skills and characteristics to work as Healthcare Assistants?

Let’s kick this off with a quick topic – what do you feel are the top three key characteristics of a healthcare assistant?

The Health Benefits of Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help:

  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your mental health and mood
  • Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
  • Increase your chances of living longer
  • Control your weight
  • Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Reduce your risk of some cancers

physicalactivityIf you’re not sure about becoming active or boosting your level of physical activity because you’re afraid of getting hurt, the good news is that moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, is generally safe for most people.

Start slowly. Cardiac events, such as a heart attack, are rare during physical activity. But the risk does go up when you suddenly become much more active than usual. For example, you can put yourself at risk if you don’t usually get much physical activity and then all of a sudden do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. That’s why it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase your level of activity.

If you have a chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, talk with your doctor to find out if your condition limits, in any way, your ability to be active. Then, work with your doctor to come up with a physical activity plan that matches your abilities. If your condition stops you from meeting the minimum Guidelines, try to do as much as you can. What’s important is that you avoid being inactive. Even 60 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is good for you.

Improve you Mental Health and Mood

Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning and judgement skills sharp as you age.  It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better.  Research has shown that doing aerobic or a mix of aerobic and muscle strengthening activities 3 to 5 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes can give you these mental health benefits.

How does this relate to physical activity? If you’re a physically active middle-aged or older adult, you have a lower risk of functional limitations than people who are inactive

Already have trouble doing some of your everyday activities? Aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities can help improve your ability to do these types of tasks.

Are you an older adult who is at risk for falls? Research shows that doing balance and muscle-strengthening activities each week along with moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, can help reduce your risk of falling.


Fall Prevention

A simple fall can change your life. Just ask any of the thousands of older men and women who fall each year and break a bone (sometimes called fracture).

fallingGetting older can bring lots of changes. Sight, hearing, muscle strength, coordination and reflexes aren’t what they once were. Balance can be affected by diabetes and heart disease, or by problems with your circulation, thyroid or nervous system. Some medicines can cause dizziness. Any of these things can make a fall more likely.

Then there’s osteoporosis—a disease that makes bones thin and likely to break easily. Osteoporosis is a major reason for broken bones in women past menopause. It also affects older men. When your bones are fragile even a minor fall can cause one or more bones to break. Although people with osteoporosis must be very careful to avoid falls, all of us need to take extra care as we get older.

A broken bone may not sound so terrible. After all, it will heal, right? But as we get older a break can be the start of more serious problems. The good news is that there are simple things you can do to help prevent most falls.

Take the Right Steps

Falls and accidents seldom “just happen.” The more you take care of your overall health and well-being, the more likely you’ll be to lower your chances of falling. Here are a few hints:

Ask your doctor about a special test—called a bone mineral density test—that tells how strong your bones are. If need be, your doctor can prescribe new medications that will help make your bones stronger and harder to break.

Talk with your doctor and plan an exercise program that is right for you. Regular exercise helps keep you strong and improves muscle tone. It also helps keep your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. Mild weight-bearing exercise—such as walking, climbing stairs—may even slow bone loss from osteoporosis.

Have your vision and hearing tested often. Even small changes in sight and hearing can make you less stable. So, for example, if your doctor orders new eyeglasses, take time to get used to them, and always wear them when you should or, if you need a hearing aid, be sure it fits well.

Find out about the possible side effects of medicines you take. Some medicines might affect your coordination or balance. If so, ask your doctor or pharmacist what you can do to lessen your chance of falling.

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Even a small amount can affect your balance and reflexes.

Always stand up slowly after eating, lying down, or resting. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop, which can make you feel faint.

Don’t let your home get too cold or too hot…it can make you dizzy. In the summer—if your home is not air-conditioned—keep cool with an electric fan, drink lots of liquids, and limit exercise. In the winter, keep the nighttime temperature at 65° or warmer.

Use a cane, walking stick, or walker to help you feel steadier when you walk. This is very important when you’re walking in areas you don’t know well or in places where the walkways are uneven. And be very careful when walking on wet or icy surfaces. They can be very slippery! Try to have sand or salt spread on icy areas.

Wear rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes that fully support your feet. Wearing only socks or shoes with smooth soles on stairs or waxed floors can be unsafe.

Hold the handrails when you use the stairs. If you must carry something while you’re going up or down, hold it in one hand and use the handrail with the other.

Don’t take chances. Stay away from a freshly washed floor. And don’t stand on a chair or table to reach something that’s too high—use a “reach stick” instead. Reach sticks are special grabbing tools that you can buy at many hardware or most medical supply stores.
Find out about buying a home monitoring system service. Usually, you wear a button on a chain around your neck. If you fall or need emergency help, you just push the button to alert the service. Emergency staff is then sent to your home. You can find local “medical alarm” services in your yellow pages.

Most medical insurance companies and Medicare do not cover items like home monitoring systems and reach sticks. So be sure to ask about cost. You will probably have to pay for them yourself.

Make Your Home Safe

You can help prevent falls by making changes to unsafe areas in your home with these home safety tips.

In stairways, hallways, and pathways:

  • Make sure there is good lighting with light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Keep areas where you walk tidy.
  • Check that all carpets are fixed firmly to the floor so they won’t slip. Put no-slip strips on tile and wooden floors. You can buy these strips at the hardware store.
  • Have handrails on both sides of all stairs—from top to bottom—and be sure they’re tightly fastened.

In bathrooms and powder rooms:

  • Mount grab bars near toilets and on both the inside and outside of your tub and shower.
  • Place non-skid mats, strips, or carpet on all surfaces that may get wet.
  • Keep night lights on.

In your bedroom:

  • Put night lights and light switches close to your bed.
  • Keep your telephone near your bed.

In other living areas:

  • Keep electric cords and telephone wires near walls and away from walking paths.
  • Tack down all carpets and area rugs firmly to the floor.
  • Arrange your furniture (especially low coffee tables) and other objects so they are not in your way when you walk.
  • Make sure your sofas and chairs are a good height for you, so that you can get into and out of them easily.

HSE Manual Handling Policy

HSE Manual Handling Policy

With the halfway point now reached, how have we fared in implementing the HSE Manual Handling Policy at ground level with the staff it ultimately affects? Three key areas have been highlighted by Servisource Training:

  1. ‘All training programmes aim to change attitudes and behaviour and to facilitate safe handling activities in the workplace’ – How do we know if we are achieving this desired outcome? Changing attitudes and behaviours are difficult qualities to pin down but we must have some reference by which we can determine if training is having the desired effect. For example reporting of injuries, to both staff and service users, is a metric by which we can observe these effects.
  2. Emergency situations, ‘Full body lifting should be avoided, except in emergency situations’. – It is becoming more apparent that ‘Emergency situations’ is a key topic in the training sessions. Staff need to be guided by clear local plans in this regard and practice these scenarios in the training environment.
  3. ‘Ensure that manual handling issues raised during training courses are documented and ensure that the relevant line manager is made aware’ – Transferable is a theme that should prevail over the duration of each manual handling training session. Frontline staff who perform the duties give feedback on how they feel the techniques will suit their daily activities. By doing this the staff are much more likely to implement the techniques and by documenting the feedback, the instructor provides a regular stream of frontline information back to the line manager.

Why Invest in Healthcare Training for Staff

Why Invest in Healthcare Training for Staff

Training that produces a return on investment

Too often staff training days are a ‘tic the box’ exercise. Whilst it is important to ensure all staff have undergone compulsory training such as manual handling, employers should be demanding more value from these exercises and employees should feel the benefit of training the moment they begin the exercise. Servisource training has made it their niche to transform these short continuous professional development programs into consistent, high quality and engaging events that most importantly produce the benefits that employers and employees alike, desire. Manual handling training must produce observable reductions in reported back pain amongst employees, likewise infection prevention and control training must produce observable changes to staff practices with the very desirable effect of decreasing healthcare associated cross infection of patients.

Several key aspects should be considered by employers reviewing their training approach in this regard:

Plan – Schedule your training well in advance, setting out an annual plan the preceding year is most effective. If you have a staff compliment of 30, any single training requirement of these staff is going to cast the equivalent of an average single employee monthly wage. Any inefficiencies in your training is going to be costly and unnecessary.

Standardise – Use a training method that is verifiable by external sources such as FETAC, The Irish Heart Foundation, An Bord Altranis etc. This will help to ensure that the message received by your staff is consistent and that compliance with regulating bodies is easily demonstrated.

Tailor – Without tailoring, generic programs come across as rigid and inapplicable to the staff on the course. The training organisation and the client should discuss each element of the course ensuring that it is empathic to the staff work practice context.

Feedback & review – A key component of any training program but often overlooked as ‘happy sheets’ and dismissed. A short appraisal gives the participant an opportunity to review their key learning outcomes aiding their retention. It also presents the training organisation with the info required to develop their training in the direction demanded by the participants.

Observe & examine – Training programs need to become more verifiable in terms of their effect on work practices – this is the litmus test of any training program. Time should be taken to accumulate reported information in order to examine the actual return provided by the training.

There is every incentive to achieve these objectives and this is the motivation underpinning our service. The frontline staffs in the health service are the most important staff, they do the work. To that effect we must ensure their development is efficient and very effective and this will produce safer better healthcare. Servisource training makes it their business to help organisations achieve these goals. It is an organisation that is developing and growing, providing jobs and assisting the economy, all whilst assisting the health service in preventing injury and providing a quality standard of care.

Get Your Folks Online

Get Your Folks Online 2012

Mum, Dad….

Say Hello to the World Wide Web, everything you ever needed to know at your fingertips.

If parents or grandparents you know still haven’t got to grips with the Internet, they’re really missing out.

Google and Age Action have teamed up to create free bite-size courses that you can take them through, step-by-step. There’s everything from how to use a mouse, right up to trickier things like making Skype calls or searching for shows on the RTÉ Player.

And before you know it, they’ll be up and running and chuffed you took the time to share your know-how.

We at MyHomeCare fully support this fantastic promotion to get parents and grandparents to start using PCs and the Internet. As a teacher of adult education courses I myself see a big increase in age brackets in our Computers for Beginners class. Each year around 80% of my class consists of students over the age of 50. I see people coming in who are visibly shaking with nerves who have little or no experience of using a PC. With a little help and encouragement these same people walk out of a classroom 30 hours later full of confidence and ready to progress to the next level.

The main issue I see with this age group is a fear of failure and a very low level of self-worth. The first thing I do in my class is to try and break down that fear barrier and reassure them that they are not alone and that everyone else in the class is starting at the same level. Through constant positive reinforcement and encouragement my students get a real hunger for learning how to do new things on the PC and the Internet and most of them want to get home and show the grandchildren what they can now do. Although it may seem funny I believe the grandchildren are actually driving a lot of the older age group to learn new technologies for the simple fact of having something to talk about with them, to get involved in what the grandchildren are doing and to maintain and strengthen the bond between them.

It really is fantastic that children these days are growing up surrounded by technology and are so comfortable using technologies that they very quickly adapt when a new technology comes into the market. To see my 4 year old intelligently using my ipad does my heart good. The down side of the youth being so readily plugged in to everything online and comfortable with PCs is that the gap between themselves and the older generation widens and that all important parental bond weakens a little bit.

This is one of the reasons I encourage action to be taken by the older generation and fully support the Get Your Folks Online initiative

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Get Active

With the arrival of the long, bright evenings, we are encouraged to participate in some form of physical activity, whether it is going for a walk, attending to your garden or ballroom dancing.
There is new evidence to suggest that being active reduces the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis and depression.
The other benefits of being physically active are:
Fewer falls, improved memory
Less stress, better sleep quality
Less weight gain, stronger bones
Social aspect, more alert
Better posture and balance
Fewer Aches and pains

What are the guidelines for older people (aged 65+)?
The guidelines for older people are at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity five days a week.
30 minutes a day can be spread out at intervals e.g. 10 minutes walking in the morning. 20 minutes walking in the afternoon.
What activities can I do?
Walking, Cycling, Pilates, Gardening, Dancing, Water aerobics, Yoga, Swimming, Exercise bike, Golf, Skittles, Kurling.
Other activities such as hovering, cleaning windows, sweeping, mowing the lawn, and shopping are all beneficial.
Tips on how to start exercising
If you have any medical problems or concerns, consult your doctor for advice before starting strenuous exercise.
Start off slowly, build up fitness over time e.g. include easy stretching before walking
Do activities that you enjoy
Join a class in your community, as exercise is more enjoyable within a group
Arrange to meet friends to go walking
So remember “TOO OLD” or “TOO FRAIL” are not reasons to not participate in some form of physical activity.
Remember physical activity helps to keep and maintain your independence as you get older.