Hannah MacKechnie

Hannah MacKechnie

 elderly at christmas 01

George* woke up and by 8 am, he was dressed and having a cup of tea. Alone.

Just like every other day, he thinks about his wife Mary who died last year after they had been married for fifty years, and he also thinks about how he is lost without her. Sadly, they couldn’t have children, so George doesn’t have any family to speak to or visit.

Looking out of the window, the ground looked frosty so George wrapped-up warm and left the house to go to the local shop. This is the only time during the day that he sees anyone else, so he likes to go in the morning just for the company and to have someone to say hello to.

When he reaches the shop it’s closed, which is unusual because it’s open every day. On his way back to the house, a couple walk past and wish him a Merry Christmas. Only then does George realise it must be Christmas Day.



Almost 280,000 elderly people spent Christmas Day alone in 2016 (RVS).



For those living alone, it’s just another day

Not everyone has family or friends to spend Christmas with and for many the 25th of December is just another day. For them, it’s not an exciting time of watching grandchildren open presents under the tree or sharing a meal with loved ones. Nor is it a day to pull a cracker or to give someone they love a Christmas present.

In the UK, over half of the elderly aged 75 and above live alone. Many elderly people don’t have children or family living nearby and often they only have contact with their children over Skype or phone calls, instead of a visit in person.

At holiday and festive times, loneliness can be amplified by the lack of having anyone to spend time with. According to Age UK, nearly a million elderly people feel more lonely at Christmas. Out of those, two-fifths are alone after their husband or wife has died.

Choosing to spend Christmas alone when in your thirties, because you want some time out, is very different to being alone in your eighties and are suffering from chronic loneliness.

elderly at christmas 03


Christmas Day is the one day when everything closes

Many elderly people who live alone, will have set routines that involve going to a public space for social contact. This could be a library, a shop, the post office or a café. Over Christmas, most of these places will be closed and this can be even more isolating for those that depend on the daily visit to the library. Five minutes of conversation with the librarian could be the only person they speak to all day.

Even for elderly people that do have friends, their pride may stop them from accepting an invite to join their friend’s family, because they don’t want to be a burden.


Communities help people to cope with difficulty

Communities are not as strong as they used to be and the impact of this is that around 200,000 elderly people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in over a month. Over the last few years, trials in Somerset that helped those living alone to be supported by their community, resulted in a substantial fall in hospital admissions. When people feel supported, then they are better able to cope with both illness and ageing.

The effects of loneliness are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and are more detrimental than obesity. To combat the fast-growing epidemic of loneliness, as a nation we should be focused on building more community spirit.

You can read more about the damaging effects of loneliness here...

elderly at christmas 04 


A lifetime of stories to tell

Sadly, in the UK, elderly people have been swept to one side of the community so that they become isolated in care homes, but their wisdom has much to offer to the younger generations. Progressive communities in the Netherlands have begun to integrate the generations, by having nursery school children visit the elderly and they have also established inter-generational living between students and the elderly.

Elderly people have a lifetime of stories to tell. When an elderly person opens up about how life used to be and what they have experienced over eighty years, then this can have great benefit to younger generations.

Encouraging elderly people to be integral in their communities should be the norm, rather than the exception.



At Christmas last year, Sally suspected that her neighbour Brenda* would be alone over the festive period as she never had any visitors. So she invited Brenda to spend Christmas Day with herself and her family.

Brenda was delighted to have something to look forward to and spent time making a traditional plum pudding, together with a Christmas cake to take on the day.

Sally has two children, aged six and eight, and Brenda spent time reading stories to the children while Sally prepared the meal. During dinner, Sally and her husband were surprised to learn that during the war, Brenda had been sent as an evacuee, aged five, from the city to a farm in a small village. Brenda told stories of how an enemy airman was captured, and held in the barn for a week, and that she would spy on him as he cried from homesickness, just as she used to do.

After dinner, the children showed Brenda their iPad and in return, Brenda showed the children that she could play the piano on a music app.

Brenda said to Sally and her family that she had had the best Christmas since her husband had died five years earlier. Brenda now regularly has Sunday dinner with Sally and her family. She is teaching the children how to play the piano.


Where you can get involved

Although the statistics are bleak, there isn’t a shortage of people who want to help. Last year, one-in-five adults were set to volunteer over the Christmas period (RVS). The majority of people in the UK do want to help but often don’t know either how, or where to go.

For those that want to help support the elderly and ensure that no one is alone, try contacting the following:

Call in Time

All year round, Age UK operate a befriending service that involves calling an elderly person at a set time every week for a chat – much like talking to a relative or a friend. A nationwide service, people are matched by interests so that they have things to talk about. In certain areas, Age UK also offer face-to-face befriending.

Community Christmas

A charity that was started in 2011 by one woman who wanted to ensure that no elderly people were left alone at Christmas. From a humble start of one community event, the organisation has now grown to over 567 events nationwide on Christmas Day. The charity will offer advice to help anyone who wants to establish an event of their own, which can start with a group of people meeting in the local pub, to being a full Christmas dinner at a community centre.

Contact the Elderly

A tea party was first organised in 1965 by one man to help the elderly break out of the cycle of social isolation. The charity now supports volunteers to organise monthly tea parties on a Sunday for elderly people to make new friends. You can apply to be a driver, coordinator or host of a tea party on a monthly, year-round basis.

Royal Voluntary Service

Possibly the most well-known voluntary service, RVS operates year-round but also requires additional support over Christmas. RVS offers a wide range of services from companionship for people in the hospital and visiting elderly people in their homes, to exercise classes and community sheds.

elderly at christmas 02


What you can do if you want to help

Even without joining an organisation, there are many things you can do in your own community to support the elderly and to ensure that they are included at Christmas:

Invite someone to your dinner table. Having one extra for dinner isn’t much effort but would make such a huge difference to an elderly person that hasn’t had a conversation with anyone in over a month.

Recognise if they are anxious. Remember, if someone is suffering loneliness they may have become socially anxious, so be mindful and try to consider what they would need to make them feel more comfortable. They may say no, simply for reasons such as fear of how to make conversation or for being uncomfortable eating in front of someone if they can’t chew properly. Make sure you don’t go overboard and do recognise if someone genuinely wants to be alone but also, know when someone is saying no out of fear or to be polite.

Don’t assume, ask. Elderly people tend to be more stoic and are more likely to not ask for help, so the emphasis is on you to make a judgement if you feel someone is lonely. If a neighbour never has visitors or doesn’t go out much, take the time to go and ask them to join you on Christmas Day or even just offer to take them out for a cup of tea.

Help with their shopping. Pop round to your elderly neighbour and ask if you can take them out to the shops so that they can buy food or to get out of the house. Being alone can be a long day, with little to do.

Help with Christmas decorations. Many people living alone don’t bother to decorate the house and it can make a big difference and help lift their mood. Buy your neighbour a small tree and decorate it for them. Don’t forget to let them know you will also take it away, so that they don’t need to worry about the cleaning up.

Organise a Christmas tea party at a local community centre or café. Charities such as Community Christmas and Contact the Elderly (above), help volunteers to organise events and tea parties. Organising an afternoon at a local café doesn’t need to be a fancy occasion. Just get a few elderly people together and host a couple of hours in a café, or your own home, so that they can enjoy getting to know new people.

Offer to drive an elderly neighbour to an event. Encourage someone you know to get out and about to events over the festive season. By offering to drive them, it might be the nudge they need to overcome any anxiety, especially on Christmas Day when transport is limited.



40% of over 70’s in Britain are skipping meals due to loneliness.



An elderly person is not just for Christmas!

Although during the festive period people tend to be more charitable, it’s not just at Christmas time that the elderly are lonely and we need to be mindful of this all year round.

Most of the charities listed above have year-round programmes for the elderly, so you can offer your services at any time.

You can read more suggestions about how your elderly parents can be more sociable here...

Source:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=60&v=inyaBPWdZIM

Last year, Age UK launched the film Just Another Day, to highlight how life is for many elderly people. Warning, it might make you cry.


*We have changed the names to respect the identity of our clients.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018 19:11

Angela - Field Coordinator

Angela - Field Coordinator Bromsgrove & Redditch

Angela has worked for Radfield Home Care since 2013. She previously worked in a nursing home for 17 years but fancied a change in career direction but whilst remaining within the care sector so she chose to become a domiciliary carer.

She very much enjoys spending time with her clients, getting to know them and having a chat and enabling them to stay in their own homes. Angela enjoys working for Radfield Bromsgrove and Redditch and feels very well supported by the management team which in turn enables her to do her best at her job role.

In her spare time she enjoys knitting, reading and cross stitch.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018 19:08

Helen - Care Manager

Helen Stocker - Care Manager Bromsgrove & Redditch

Helen joined Radfield Home Care Worcester team in 2015 as a supervisor and has progressed through the company to become the Care Manager for the branch.

Throughout her working life, she has always chosen the care profession, as a carer, as a phlebotomist, working with children and then back to domiciliary care, only taking time away to bring up her children.

In Helen's words:

'Spending the day with people with care and support needs is not work, it’s the most rewarding, satisfying and enriching career that I can think of. Before applying to join the team at Radfield Home Care I spent a lot of time looking for the right company to work with, looking up websites and reading on sites such as facebook about the different companies that were recruiting carers. Radfield Home Care stood out for me due to its core values. I work under a franchise owner that I am proud to call my mentor and I work with a team of people who have a deep love for our profession, who feel supported and happy in their work everyday. Our clients are  at the heart of everything we do and this shows everyday as we all set out to meet our client’s needs ensuring that they are safe and supported at all times.'


Tuesday, 20 November 2018 19:00

Dawn Phillips - Director

Dawn Phillips - Director

Dawn has worked in the care sector for over 20 years initially as a Home Carer and then in management positions. She worked as the branch manager at Radfield Home Care Worcester branch for 5 years and in that time established and built the branch up to be a highly respected care service covering Worcester, Droitwich and Malvern areas. She then worked in a Head office role undertaking Compliance and Monitoring Care Quality for the Radfield Home Care branch network.

In 2016, a new opportunity beckoned which has brought Dawn back full circle into the Worcester branch as the new Franchise Partner for the business. Dawn is excited to be able to extend the reach of Radfield Home Care's award winning care services to the people of Bromsgrove, Redditch and Alcester. She brings her drive and passion, not to mention her experience and skillset to be able to offer her clients the highest standards of care in their own homes.

Dawn is an Alzheimer's society approved Dementia Champion and has achieved her Level 5 qualification in Leadership and Care Management.

Thursday, 25 October 2018 17:49

Care Assistant Wakefield

Working for Radfield Home Care - Wakefield & Dewsbury as a Care Assistant is an extremely rewarding job. In order to do the job well, you need to have a caring nature, be flexible and organised in your work, enjoy taking on responsibility and making a real difference to other people's lives.

Everyone at Radfield works to our Company Core Values and these serve as daily reminders to everyone as to how we treat our clients and each other. We are looking for individuals who will fit into our company culture, we are not necessarily seeking the most experienced or well-trained person as these skills can be taught - but being just the right type of person with the right values to be apart of our amazing team.

  • We are a Family | At Radfield Home Care we care about all of our people, and believe passionately that by treating our carers as a trusted family we can empower them to treat our clients with the same warmth and respect.
  • We are Proud to Care | We're proud to stand out for the right reasons, to help each and every one of our employees reach their potential, and we're proud of the fact that at Radfield, we're always pushing for the very best.
  • We are on Your Side | We believe in looking after people and empowering them to live their own unique lives to the full. We understand, listen, and act as caring advocates, to uphold wishes and ensure wellbeing.


How Does Radfield Care for Carers?

Radfield Home Care is an award-winning company built on an outstanding reputation that provides care services to clients who wish to remain living in their own home, maintaining their independence, and quality of life.

As the first healthcare company in the UK to become an accredited B Corp, we are extremely proud of the work and services we deliver to our local communities. We do this by caring for our Carers.

Radfield Home Care has created its own core values that are at the heart of what we do each and every day. Our Caring for our Carers pledge also ensures we improve the conditions for hard working care staff, enabling carers to do a good job.

B Corp allows Radfield Home Care to demonstrate our commitment to our people and to our planet in a transparent and clear way by creating value for society, not just shareholders.

Job Title:

Care Assistant.


Ossett, Wakefield.

Reporting to:

Care Manager.


Weekday £9.00ph, weekend £10.50ph.

*Additional pay of £1.33 between every care call as a travel pay allowance.

*Tax-free mileage payments.


Part-time (16 - 20 Hours) and Full-time positions available.


Driving license and use of own car
Able to work every other weekend
Hold a current or willing to undertake a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) Check.

Job Purpose:

To provide domiciliary care to clients.

Application Deadline:

31st October 2018.


Submit My Application

Wakefield Home Care Assistant Jobs

The job description for a Care Assistant - Wakefield & Dewsbury at Radfield Home Care is outlined below.

Our Home Care Assistants work with elderly people who live in their own homes and may need just a small amount of support e.g. help with shopping or companionship through to care visits with one or two carers several times per day.

Your care duties for each individual client will be clearly stated in their Care Plan and may vary depending on the client needs, time of day of the visit etc. Occasionally other care duties may arise that aren’t included below and you will need to be able to adapt easily to take on these different duties if asked.

There are certain qualities that we expect all our carers to have and bring to their day-to-day work and we have outlined these below.


What We offer

  • Premium hourly rates and additional mileage pay,
  • 5.6 weeks' paid holiday per annum,
  • Access to first class induction training and a commitment to continuous learning, development, and support.
  • Workplace Pension Scheme and sick pay scheme.
  • Free uniform.
  • Monthly data allowance.
  • Star of the month rewards.
  • Opportunity to make a difference in the local communities of Wakefield & Dewsbury.
  • Opportunity to be part of the respected, trusted and high-quality Radfield home care brand and a chance to be part of a values-based family business.


Skills, Knowledge & Qualifications


The main skills and qualities that we look for in our Home Care Assistants are:

  • A good communicator.
  • An active team player but also able to work on your own initiative.
  • Caring, patient, sensitive and committed to helping improve the quality of life of vulnerable people.
  • Self-motivated, organised and flexible.
  • Mentally able to cope with the demands of domiciliary care work.
  • Physically able to cope with the demands of domiciliary care work which involves bending, lifting, stretching, kneeling, crouching, getting up and down stairs & manual dexterity.



The main skills and qualities that we look for in our Home Care Assistants are:

  • Previous experience in the care profession and qualifications are desirable attributes but not essential
  • Some experienced carers will participate in the on-call rota and undertake shadowing training with new carers. These additional responsibilities are optional and are remunerated at an enhanced rate of pay.


Main Responsibilities:

  • To share with other staff in meeting the personal care needs of our clients in a way that respects their dignity and promotes independence. The nature of care we expect you to provide is similar to that given by members of our clients own family and will not involve tasks that a trained nurse would normally provide.
  • Providing personal care to clients.
  • To help clients with mobility problems and other physical disabilities including incontinence and to use and look after aids and personal equipment.
  • To provide our clients with companionship care when required.
  • To care for clients who are temporarily sick and may need assistance with minor dressings, bed nursing, help with feeding, toileting etc.
  • To help provide end of life care.
  • To help promote the mental and physical wellbeing of our clients by talking to them, taking them out, reading and writing and helping them to participate in their hobbies and recreations.
  • To undertake light household tasks for example, making and changing beds, tidying rooms, light cleaning such as dusting and vacuuming and emptying commodes.
  • To assist with the washing and ironing of clothes if requested.
  • To prepare and serve meals; assist clients with eating and drinking; wash up, tidy and clean the kitchen and dining area.
  • To greet visitors and answer the telephone as needed whilst at the client's home.
  • To read and write reports, and take part in staff and clients meetings and training activities as directed.
  • To maintain the highest standards of hygiene at all times and use personal protective equipment provided
  • Report any illness to the office so that correct infection prevention and control procedures can be followed.
  • To comply with the agency's guidelines and policies at all times.
  • To report to the office any significant changes in the health or circumstances of a client.
  • To encourage clients to remain as independent as possible.
  • To report to the office immediately any events or situations that may pose a risk to our clients, their relatives or staff members. For example a faulty piece of equipment or a broken step in a client's home.
  • To help promote the agency with marketing which may include leafleting.
  • To come into the office at least once a week to collect and bring in client paperwork and to collect your rota and client information.
  • To perform such other duties as may reasonably be required.



All staff is required to adhere to the Code of Practice for Social Care Workers and respect the confidentiality of all matters that they might learn in the course of their employment. All staff is expected to comply with requirements under the Data Protection Act 1998.

All staff must be familiar with Radfield Home Care Ltd’s health and safety policies and procedures and ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 of which we can provide copies if needed.

Submit My Application

Thursday, 18 October 2018 14:22

Anita Handley - Care Coordinator

Anita Handley - Care Coordinator

Anita holds over 25 years of experience in the care sector, commencing as a carer in a private nursing home.

At the age of 30 Anita decided to pursue her career and studied to become a mental health nurse, and worked for over 7 years in the private healthcare sector as a mental health nurse working with clients living with dementia.

More recently, Anita has been working for the charity ‘Combat Stress, working with veterans with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Anita oversees the timings and quality of care delivered to our clients and ensures that everything is running smoothly.

Thursday, 18 October 2018 14:00

Sonya Cole - Care Manager

Sonya Cole - Care Manager

Sonya has always had a passion for caring, commencing her career in care at the age of 16 as a health care assistant in a residential care home, looking after residents living with dementia.

After taking a break looking after her triplets, Paris, George and Sonny, Sonya returned to work as a care assistant in a care home environment in Kidderminster and shortly after joined Radfield in 2016 as a carer. Sonya quickly progressed to supervisor and more recently enjoyed the role as field coordinator at our Stafford branch.

Sonya is currently working towards her NVQ Level 5 in Leadership and Management and in her role as care manager of the Shrewsbury branch, strives to ensure that care is provided at the highest standards to clients, peace of mind to relatives, and the care team are well supported.

Outside of work, Sonya loves to spend time with her children and grandchildren.

halloween and elderly

Thirty or forty years ago, Halloween and ‘trick or treat’ was always a popular night in the UK for childish mischief. A minority of kids would partake in silly pranks such as knocking on doors and running away but there was never a culture of visiting neighbours en masse expecting candy or money.

How things have changed.

In America, Halloween has always been a huge event and the second biggest celebration behind Christmas. This may have once been perplexing to Brits but ‘pumpkin fever’ has now traversed the Atlantic and spread through the UK.


Halloween in the UK, a growing trend


In the US, Halloween retail spend stands at £4.5 billion. In the UK, a little behind, spend is growing from £230 million in 2013 to £320 million (estimated) in 2017. Source.

In 2016, almost half of the population (46%) spent money on Halloween – a rise of 18% from 2015 – and this is only set to keep rising. Source.

In 2017, the UK spend on pumpkins alone was £25.15 million.


It’s official that Halloween is now a major celebration in the UK with children enjoying ‘trick or treat’ and visiting their neighbours for sweets and treats on the 31st of October.

Children excitedly dress up in costumes with many choosing to be mini zombies, witches, ghosts and ghouls and it’s a fun family evening. The anticipation of obtaining a large bag of sweets is enough for any child to be ecstatic about. It’s a light-hearted occasion centered around children and few would realise that for some it can be an evening of significant stress.


Halloween can be stressful for the elderly

Not everyone can imagine how a knock at the door can be intimidating or stressful for an elderly person who may be cautious of strangers or unexpected visitors.

A seemingly childish prank, such as knocking on a door and running away, shouting through a letterbox or even throwing eggs at a window can be psychologically damaging for a vulnerable person who sees their house as a ‘safe’ place. They may develop a negative association of being alone at home and become withdrawn and depressed.

Costumes, shrieks, screams and an unusual level of activity in the street can be disorienting to a person living with dementia who can have difficulty understanding what is happening.

Halloween could mean a sleepless night of stress and anxiety for the elderly or those with dementia.

To address the issue that Halloween is not a fun time of year for everyone, at the end of this page there are details for how anyone can leave a sign in their window to ask that they are respectfully left alone and that those escorting children ‘trick or treating’ can avoid visiting a house that displays the sign.

Go to download poster...


halloween can be stressful for the eldery

Living alone can make the elderly fearful

For many people, it’s difficult to understand how confidence declines as they age and that everyday incidents can become intimidating. Even walking down a street with someone a little too close behind can be alarming and the fear of answering the door to strangers amplifies as you feel more frail and vulnerable.

It’s a sad reality that older people are targets for crime and when incidents are sensationalised in the press and this feeds the cycle of fear. Living alone with reduced social contact has a negative effect on thinking and the mind can quickly spiral worry out of control.

Read about loneliness and the elderly…


Margaret’s fear made her believe pranksters wanted to attack her


Margaret* has lived alone since her husband died two years ago and has found the grief difficult to deal with. Her only son lives several hours drive away and she doesn’t see him very often, maybe two or three times a year.

Firstly, due to the grief, and then compounded over time she found herself becoming more isolated and lost confidence in leaving the house alone. As a result of being withdrawn, she became more fearful and her worrying began to overwhelm her thoughts and often her mind would blow incidents out of proportion.

Last year, on Halloween, Margaret heard a knock at the door. As it was dark outside, her initial reaction was of concern to answer the door to an unknown visitor. As she struggled to get there, she heard someone rattling the door and then shouting through the letterbox. Margaret felt terrified and froze behind the door.

She could hear laughter and shrieks outside the house and Margaret’s imagination ran wild. She imagined someone who may want to get her to the door so they could force their way in to attack her and steal her pension. She had read about the same thing in the paper.

Margaret spent the evening sat in the dark alone with genuine fear that someone would use Halloween as a pretense to get her to answer the door and then attack her. She didn’t sleep at all that night and in the following weeks her anxiety was so bad she couldn’t leave the house.

Thankfully, Margaret now has a Radfield carer who has helped her to deal with the isolation and anxiety. This year on Halloween, Margaret’s carer is going to stay with her to ensure that she is not alone or scared.


Alzheimer’s causes a blurred sense of reality

Alzheimer’s and dementia can cause a change of temperament in the person living with the disease. Outbursts of anger are attributed to parts of the brain that regulate inhibitions and these are affected by the disease. A person with dementia is not confrontationally aggressive, but rather because of a loss of inhibition, anger is their reaction to any distress or confusion they may feel.

People living with advanced Alzheimer’s can also have a different sense of reality as their memory becomes affected by the disease. A costume or mask can trigger confusion and distress as they lack the ability to differentiate between fantasy and reality.

A calm environment and routine are important when caring for a person with dementia. Unexpected knocks on the door at night, people in costumes and loud noises can all be disruptive and cause agitation and anxiety.

Read about how the brain is affected by Alzheimer’s…


Tom was distressed thinking ghoulish costumes were real


Tom* is living with Alzheimer’s disease and his wife Carol has cared for him at home but last year, as his cognitive function declined, she began to struggle. This was exaggerated at Halloween when trick or treaters came to the house.

Tom had been restless that day and become angry when Carol had tried to stop him from leaving the house. She hoped that a quiet evening and watching TV would settle him down. At about 7pm, a knock at the door startled Tom and he insisted on answering the door. Carol tried to stop him but he became more agitated and was clearly disrupted by an unexpected visitor at night as this was out of the ordinary.

They both answered the door to find three young teenagers wearing ghost masks and black cloaks from the horror film ‘Scream’. At first, Tom recoiled and then began to shout at the teenagers – clearly distressed by their appearance. Carol found his behavior alarming as he shouted and aggressively waved his arms at the children who ran away from the house. Tom then began to cower at the foot of the stairs crying and shaking.

Carol called her daughter and son in law David who quickly came to the house and helped her to get Tom into the living room and calm him down. Another knock at the door caused Tom to become agitated again and fortunately, David was able to persuade Tom to sit down whilst Carol went to the door to ask the visitors to leave.

That evening, David stood outside the front gate of the house asking trick or treaters to please avoid the house. Carol and her daughter sat with Tom and tried to distract him by looking at old family photographs. Tom seemed to go into decline after that evening and it was a few days before he settled down again.


Halloween safety tips for the elderly

Trick or treating may last a few days over the Halloween period but the evening of October the 31st will most likely have a steady stream of visitors knocking on the door.

  • On the evening, arrange to be with your relative or an elderly neighbor who lives alone, so that they are not intimidated and afraid about knocks at the door.
  • You could answer the door yourself to hand out sweets or, you can print a poster (below) for the front door to politely ask people not to visit.
  • If you are not able to stay for the evening then arrange for a carer to be in the house all night.


If your relative wants to take part in Halloween:

  • Consider a torch lit pumpkin over a candle to avoid fire hazards.
  • Don’t leave a candlelit pumpkin unattended and ensure it’s extinguished before going to bed.
  • Avoid eating too many sugary sweets and treats as it can cause issues with sleeping and medical conditions.


If your relative or loved one has dementia it might be best to avoid Halloween celebrations:

  • Instead, distract them with an engaging activity such as a jigsaw that you can do together.
  • Use headphones with their favourite (calm) music to block out any unusual noise.
  • Watch a favourite film to hold their attention and divert from any activity in the street.

trick or treat

The pumpkin rule

As Halloween has spread in popularity across the UK some areas carry an unwritten ‘no pumpkin’ rule. Children and families who are trick or treating will only visit houses that have a lit pumpkin at their door or in the window.

Unfortunately, not everywhere adheres to this rule so we recommend that on Halloween an elderly person or loved one is not left alone and they display the ‘No Trick or Treat’ poster (below).


How to ‘Opt-out’ of Trick or Treat at Halloween

For Halloween, Radfield Home Care is aiming to raise awareness of how the elderly and those living with dementia can be negatively affected by ‘trick or treating’.

Not everyone will realise that an elderly person may feel afraid and be intimidated by visitors and strangers at their door in the evening when it’s dark.

Not many people will be aware that for a person with dementia, scary masks and costumes are a blur of reality that can trigger confusion and distress. Or, that disruption to their routine and environment can be difficult for them to deal with.

Radfield stresses that they don’t want to stop anyone else having fun by celebrating Halloween but do ask that people show compassion and understanding for the elderly and vulnerable.

The objective is to raise awareness within local communities to respectfully avoid visiting the homes of any elderly people or those with dementia who want to ‘opt-out’ of Halloween.

Radfield have created a friendly and fun poster that anyone can put on their door to politely show that they would prefer to not have ‘trick or treat’ visitors on the evening.

From feedback on social media about other Halloween posters we have ensured the poster is:

  • Easy to print
  • Visible at night
  • Fun for children
  • Respectful for others

Download and print the A4 sized poster below. There’s a colour or a black and white version that doesn’t use too much printing ink.

halloween and elderly no trick treat posters



Click to open colour A4 poster...

Click to open black and white A4 poster...

Please display this clearly on your front door. If it’s raining we suggest covering it with cling film.

Radfield Dr Hannah MacKechnie opt-out of halloween poster

Dr. Hannah MacKechnie with the Radfield 'opt-out of Halloween' poster

“Halloween can prove to be a scary time for people living with dementia or physical limitations. Having strangers at the door and the fear of tricks being carried out can be very stressful.

The home should be a place of security and safety and the potential fear caused by trick or treating could create negative associations of being alone at home. This may then result in negative behaviour, withdrawing more from society, losing confidence and then being at a greater risk of falls and other age-related issues.

For older clients with dementia, Halloween costumes and the different noises of young people roaming the streets may cause an increase in disorientation and fear as they struggle to understand the altered world around them, and won’t necessarily have the cognitive ability to understand that it is time-limited.

It is so important as communities that we support and protect our older residents and being thoughtful and considerate at this time can make a significant difference to an individual’s sense of well-being and safety.”

Dr. Hannah MacKechnie GP and founder of Radfield Home Care.


*We have changed the names to respect the identity of our client.

carebots solve care crisis

Pepper the robot in Turin

Frank is suffering from cognitive decline and has early signs of dementia. For peace of mind, his son purchased a domestic robot that helps with chores around the home and monitors Frank’s health, so that his son knows he is safe and well.

Frank’s dementia is advancing and he often doesn’t recognise his ex-wife, but he bonds with the robot and they form a relationship that helps him to both cope and come to terms with his cognitive decline.

Robot and Frank is a prescient film from 2012 that told the story of an ex-jewel thief and his ‘care-bot’ robot. Right now, it may be considered science fiction but we are moving towards a future where the development of AI and automation could have the answers to the huge care crisis that we are facing as a society.


The ageing crisis

In the UK, we are quickly moving towards an ageing society with a projection that by 2024, the over 65 age group will make up 20% of the population. Most worrying, is that in 2024, there will be more people in the over 65 age group than the under 15-year-olds. This means that we are facing a situation of having to find care solutions for a population, that will not have enough people in subsequent generations to care for it.

Dementia is the fastest growing disability in later life, overtaking cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease. By 2025, it’s anticipated that there will be over one million people living with dementia in the UK who will need dedicated and specialist care.

As a culture, the UK does not have the same familial responsibilities and networks that other societies do and this has meant that the NHS is becoming overburdened with trying to service care needs. The upcoming crisis that the NHS faces in dealing with the ageing population, is one that needs a solution.

This is a worldwide issue. In the US, by 2030, the over 65 population is predicted to be 20.2%. Germany and Italy already support a society that has over 20% of over 65-year-olds and that is set to grow to well over 30% by 2050 according to research by Pew.

Japan is already facing a care crisis, with over a quarter of their population now in the over 65 age group. Their Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare isis predicting that by 2025, they will have a shortage of 230,000 caregivers to support the elderly population. The world has been watching how Japan is dealing with their crisis, to seek guidance in how to tackle the upcoming issues.

“We will be reaching in the OECD, a stage in the next 20 years where there are more people over the age of 50 than there are under.”

Dr. George Leeson, co-director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing


AI and automation as a solution for the care crisis

To facilitate the needs of caring for the elderly, one solution that has been dominating the discussion above all others, is the introduction of ‘care-bots’. Rather than a dystopian vision of elderly people being fed and cared for by a robot, with little to no human interaction, the idea is that automation and AI can help to support caregivers so that they can do a better job.

The IPPR think tank has been well reported on this year, in their findings that investment into automation in the NHS could save up to £12.5 billion annually. This is based on the implementation of automation that can take over administrative and repetitive jobs, which then allows staff the time to focus on patient care.

The development of AI and automation in industry has been much debated because of the fears that the use of technology will displace people, with the result being a reduction in jobs. However, the application of technologies has the potential to revolutionise society by taking away mundane roles and redistributing the workforce into more creative and innovative roles. AI should be seen as an advancement that can create a better society and we should not have any fear for a ‘Terminator’ style future.


How AI is being applied to healthcare

One of the benefits of using AI in healthcare is the faster diagnosis and treatment of illness. Algorithms have been developed that assess radiology images and which can detect lung and skin cancer better than a radiologist. When dealing with illnesses such as cancer, the speed of diagnosis and the right treatment does make a big difference.

Through the analysis of vast amounts of data that is not possible by human hand, optimised treatment plans can be better managed and offered to patients.

As the think tank report referenced, by freeing up staff time from mundane tasks, then more time can be spent on direct patient care. Chatbots designed as virtual health assistants can take care of organising appointments and can field basic healthcare questions - freeing up a great deal of admin time.

“Almost one third of the tasks now done by nurses, and nearly one quarter of that done by hospital doctors could be done by robots and artificial intelligence systems.”

IPPR progressive policy think tank


How AI and automation could help with the care of the elderly

The main focus of the development of ‘care-bots’ is that they can assist the elderly to live independently at home and also, they can assist the care workers who take care of them.

Imagine a world where the home assistant bots could do housework and help with dressing, cooking, feeding and moving around. This would contribute significantly to the quality of life for older people and would enable them to live at home for longer.

In hospitals, bots could assist with drug administration, meal distribution, moving and lifting and could allow nurses more time to take care of critical tasks.

Most importantly, a bot could help with intimate situations such as using bedpans or toilets and being lifted in and out of a bath, helping to retain their dignity and to increase their mental well-being.

By employing bots to undertake all these tasks, staff would then have more time to focus on patient care and they would also have more time for focussed care, having conversations and providing companionship that would reduce the loneliness that is a reality for many older people.


Care-bots that are already in development and use

Robear, was developed in 2015 by Riken Brain Science Institute in Japan to lift patients and transfer them from beds to wheelchairs. Bots designed to lift and move patients can alleviate the physical strain on caregivers and can also enable people with disabilities to be more independent.

Obi, in development since 2006, is a robotic arm that can allow someone with a physical disability to feed themselves. The loss of dignity that results from a person having to be fed by someone else can make meal times a stressful time and can result in some patients no longer having an appetite or enjoying their food. By regaining independence of their own feeding, a person can begin to enjoy mealtimes again, without any time pressure of feeling uncomfortable.

Palro, is a humanoid robot developed by Fujisoft to stimulate fitness and cognitive function by playing games and quizzes with people. The bot has been used in 600 care homes across Japan.

Paro, is a robotic seal inspired by animal therapy and is designed to help people with dementia feel more socially engaged. The seal-bot was shown, in a 2015 study in Australia, to have a positive influence on the quality of life for older people with dementia and following trials, Paro now looks set to be introduced to UK hospitals.

Pepper, is a humanoid robot developed by Softbanks sold as a companion robot in Japan and introduced to the UK by Southend-on-Sea council in 2017. Pepper can play games, chat to you, can speak 12 languages and can also perceive emotions and adapt accordingly. The council intend to employ Pepper’s skills for ‘community engagement, awareness raising, and to facilitate reminiscence activities’.

A 2016 YouGov survey in the UK found that 50% of respondents were comfortable with robots performing domestic tasks for the elderly or the disabled.


Objections to care-bots

Although there are many positive reports and studies about the use of care-bots with elderly people and those living with dementia, not everyone is ‘pro robot’. Professor Maggie Boden stated that ‘Computer companions worry me very much’ as she has concerns that AI machines cannot interpret abstractions such as loyalty and the moral consequences of this.

The ethics of teaching machines to think and interact is a vast subject of great depth and is not something easily answered. However, the discussion here is not about the use of bots as a human substitute but is about facilitating and increasing the quality of life for people who need care support. By undertaking supportive tasks, care-bots could significantly aid older people and those taking care of them to have a better quality of life. More importantly, bots may be the only way that we can realistically facilitate the level of care that is going to be required to support the ageing population.

Other objections to automation include the loss of jobs, much like the Luddites in the 19th century. We can now look back and see that their fears were unfounded and in the future, we will most likely look back on resistance to new AI technology in the same manner.

The workforce will shift and adapt to accommodate new technology and it will be retrained into new areas, with an emphasis on more person-to-person interaction rather than on administrative work, and this should make for a better society.

On balance, the application of new technology has far more benefits to society by undertaking mundane tasks and also by being able to better complete complex tasks, such as finding insights in vast tracts of data that humans are simply not able to do.


The future of the care industry

The reality is that there is an ageing population and as yet, there are not enough facilities to take care of it. The introduction of automating tasks will make a huge difference by reducing costs in the NHS and by redistributing tasks.

The care that is given from person to person can never be replaced 100 percent and is not the aim of using bots and AI. The focus is to supplement what humans can do, to make them more efficient and to help them deliver better care, with more time for doing the things that only they can do.

Although there is much confusion and fear about what it may mean to introduce bots that can think for themselves, that fear should be dispelled as technology is developed and its capacity is controlled. Once it has been proven that bots can assist humanity in its daily life, then society should be more open to embracing its potential.


Image credit: Antonello Marangi


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  2. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20027/news_and_media/541/facts_for_the_media
  3. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/05/21/family-support-in-graying-societies/
  4. http://undiscovered-japan.ft.com/articles/automation-and-ageing/
  5. https://www.ippr.org/news-and-media/press-releases/embrace-full-automation-to-release-time-to-care-in-the-nhs-and-social-care-says-top-surgeon-lord-darzi
  6. https://www.itnonline.com/article/artificial-intelligence-improves-lung-cancer-detection
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/29/skin-cancer-computer-learns-to-detect-skin-cancer-more-accurately-than-a-doctor
  8. https://www.ippr.org/news-and-media/press-releases/embrace-full-automation-to-release-time-to-care-in-the-nhs-and-social-care-says-top-surgeon-lord-darzi
  9. https://www.radfieldhomecare.co.uk/home-care-blog/loneliness-in-old-age-what-can-we-do-to-avoid-the-damaging-effects
  10. https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/japan-meet-robear-robot-bear-nurse-that-can-lift-patients-into-wheelchairs-1489337
  11. https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/obi-dining-robot/
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  13. https://www.digitalhealth.net/2018/03/paro-robotic-seal-dementia-wards/
  14. https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2017/oct/16/pepper-robot-southend-social-care-recruit
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  16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite
Thursday, 23 August 2018 15:30

Jemma - Field Coordinator

Worcester Field Coordinator

Jemma has worked in the care sector for many years. Starting her career in a care home, Jemma worked for many years with residents living with dementia, supporting them with their daily tasks.

Jemma then joined the Radfield Worcester team as a carer, and has supported Dawn Phillips, franchise owner and director to now become field coordinator for the branch.

Jemma has gained her NVQ in Health and Social Care and is currently working towards her NVQ 3 after taking a break on maternity leave.

Jemma is out and about meeting our clients and their families regularly and reviewing the care that we are providing and making any changes that are needed to ensure that the service we provide to you is second to none.

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