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Time to go ‘A-mothering’

Mother’s Day falls on Sunday 27 March and although, in modern times, it has become more of a commercial enterprise, largely driven from the USA, its roots lie in the distant past.

The exact origins, like many of our festivals, are lost in the mists of time but the ancient Greeks held celebrations in Spring to honour Rhea, mother of the gods. The Romans too had a festival for Mother Goddess Cybele, as early as 250 BC.

Perhaps the most realistic link dates to the 16th century when Christian services were held in honour of the Virgin Mary and it was permitted to break the Lenten fast with cake. Worshippers moved from the smaller ‘daughter’ churches to the ‘mother’ church for this special service.

Indeed, Mother’s Day in the UK always takes place on the fourth Sunday of Lent. 

Another theory is that of Laetare Sunday, when people, including domestic servants, were granted a day’s holiday to return to their families. They were known to have gone ‘a-mothering’. Treats and gifts were taken home and this often included a Simnel Cake.

Simnel Cake is a light fruit cake with two layers of almond paste and covered in a layer of marzipan. It was traditionally decorated with 11 balls of marzipan to signify the disciples (minus Judas) and finished with sugar violets.

This year, we are delighted that we are able, once again, to welcome relatives to visit their mothers and other family members. We can’t promise that Simnel Cake will be on the menu but cake will definitely make an appearance alongside copious cups of tea and, probably, a few other treats too.

Nutrition and Hydration Week

Nutrition and Hydration Week runs from 14-20 March and aims to bring people together to highlight and educate the value of food and drink in maintaining health and wellbeing in the health and social care sector.

Good nutrition and hydration is taken very seriously at the Chiswick. As we get older, our appetites diminish so great care is taken to provide balanced and tempting meals to nourish and sustain. Menus are carefully planned and balanced to be visually appealing as well as tasty, and there is always a choice of dishes to meet dietary or cultural needs and preferences. 

Fluids are just as important. In later years, our bodies retain less water and the signs of dehydration are more difficult to spot or sense. As a result, we may not feel thirsty until hydration levels have dropped significantly. 

Those with dementia need extra special care or prompting to ensure they consume sufficient amounts of food and drink.

This guidance is also useful for those who may be looking after an elderly relative at home. Eating and drinking well helps our cognitive ability, endurance levels, mood levels and all-round health, so a balanced diet is important for us all, not just those of senior years.

Nutrition and Hydration Week will be showcasing and sharing tips so that we can all improve our eating habits. 

We all know of a fussy child who refuses to eat anything remotely like a vegetable. Canny Mums can ‘hide’ some grated carrot or courgette in a pasta sauce or casserole. Fruit can be used to make smoothies, ice lollies or even ice cream if you go easy on the sugar.

Why not get the children involved in cooking from scratch? They are more likely to try something they have made themselves. Or why not have a contest to try a new, healthy, ingredient in a meal with a reward for the person who has tried the most new foods by the end of the week?

Try replacing less healthy foods with more wholesome options: bulgur wheat instead of white rice, sweet potato in place of ordinary potato, prawns or seafood in pasta sauce instead of meat or home-made oven chips to replace the fried variety?

Make mealtimes special. A family meal seated at a nicely laid table can work wonders. Eat slowly and ensure no distractions, such as mobile phones, books or laptops at the table. Just a few, small changes can make a big difference.

Unpaid careers forum at The Chiswick Nursing Centre

As an experienced nursing sister at King Edward VII for over 14 years, specialising in discharge I would encounter and support elderly frail people caring for their equally elderly partners often living with dementia, on a daily basis. 

It was very challenging for them as there was minimal, if any support from the government, NHS or local authorities and they would struggle until a crisis point was reached and one or the other would eventually be admitted to hospital. 

As my career progressed into adult social care, I faced the same scenarios with heartbreaking outcomes. After reading a report outlining the challenges and difficulties faced by unpaid carers it was evident that the situation had not improved and with funding constraints from local authorities, indeed it had got worse. 

The Pandemic increased the number of unpaid carers as people had to give up their lives and move into their relatives homes  to care for their elderly relatives. They were afraid to have carers coming into their houses, a lack of carers from the community and other such reasons all contributed. This added to isolation both for the carers and their relatives and resulted in carers feeling overwhelmed.

Those unpaid carers needed support and so I have set up an unpaid carer’s forum, in partnership with the Chiswick Nursing Centre. It is set up to address some of the challenges faced by unpaid carers and provides a space every second Monday in the month whereby they can come and enjoy a coffee, get guidance, and support and meet other people in a similar situation.

 Attendance is free of charge and there is no obligation to attend regularly. It is hoped that in the future the forum will become a vibrant community of unpaid carers who can benefit from all of the resources that are offered at the Chiswick Nursing Centre. 

SABINA KELLY

Specialist Nurse Consultant

Ba(Hons) Bsc(Hons)

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