Help and advice
Below, we list organisations that may be able to help with information, advice or in other ways. Not only will they help you if you need more information on the kinds of equipment described in this guide, but they also have lots of information and advice on other things. Telecare, which supports people at home by giving them a connection to a call centre and other services, may also be able to help, as can suppliers of memory aids.
Rules on medicines for professional carers
If you have a paid helper, rather than a friend or family member who helps you, the helper is obliged by law to follow certain rules. These rules include what they are allowed to do when helping you take medicines. The Care Quality Commission is the organisation responsible for these rules.
Alzheimer's disease and dementia
Not everyone who needs a medicine reminder has Alzheimer's or dementia. However, many people are affected by these conditions. It's predicted that, by 2021, one million people in the UK will have dementia. So here are details of sources of help:
The Alzheimer's Society is a membership organisation working for people affected by dementia. It has over 250 local branches in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Local branches provide information and practical help such as day and home care and befriending services.
The Society has a helpline and over a hundred factsheets on different topics. They should be able to answer any question on dementia. If you become a member (there is no fixed subscription, but donations are welcome), you'll receive a copy of their monthly magazine.
Alzheimer Scotland has day and drop-in centres and offers home and other support in many areas in Scotland. Their quarterly newsletter is free to members. Membership costs £5 a year for people with dementia and their carers, people aged over 65 and unwaged; otherwise, it's £20.
This website has information about the equipment that can help people with dementia. It has a database of products that you can look through and a lot of other useful information too, including links to advice sheets produced by other organisations, a useful list of frequently asked questions and online discussion groups. They have a useful factsheet on how to get telecare and other assistive-technology equipment.
In 2009, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) produced the Dementia Gateway, which is a website aimed at health professionals. However, it has clear, practical information for anyone affected by dementia, with links to useful resources and videos.
To find out what your local social services or health services provide, talk to them directly. Look under 'social services' under the name of your local authority or get in touch with any council information service.
For health services, talk to your GP, who should be able to tell you about what services there are. Health services are listed under 'health' in local phone books, so you can also contact individual services directly.
For local information generally, try the following:
Citizens Advice provides face-to-face information in over 3,200 locations in the UK. They will advise anyone on anything, but many enquiries are about debt, benefits, housing, employment, consumer issues, relationships, family matters, health, education, discrimination, immigration and the law. Each bureau is different and you can expect that they'll be set up to reflect the area they're in. For example, they're likely to have multilingual advisors in some areas, and will be able to provide information on issues that are important locally. All help is free. To find your nearest bureau, look under 'Citizens Advice' in your phone book or enter your postcode in one of the following websites:
DIAL UK is a network of some 120 local Disability Information and Advice Line services (DIALs) in England, Scotland and Wales. They are run by disabled people for disabled people. They give information and advice on anything to do with living with a disability.
To find your nearest DIAL, contact:
Finding the right equipment
It's usually worth spending the time collecting information on any item of equipment you are thinking of getting. How much you need depends on you, the type of equipment you are thinking about and what you intend to use it for.
The DLF provides comprehensive information about equipment and where to get it. Its website includes guides about a range of daily-living equipment. You can also find suppliers for any kind of assistive-technology equipment and a guide to telecare.
AskSARA is a helpful online system that will tell you what kind of equipment may help you. You choose a topic (such as bathroom, gardening, hobbies or hearing) and answer a series of very simple questions. AskSARA gives you a rundown of things that might help, things to think about and advice on what to do next.
The DLF helpline will give you information over the phone, and they can send you printed guides and information.
There are over 40 Disabled Living Centres (called independent living centres in some places) up and down the country. Most centres have displays of equipment that you can see and try out - they stock and display a variety of products to meet most needs. They can advise you about the range of equipment and solutions available to meet your needs and where it's available. They'll often advise you about the best way of getting equipment, too, whether this be by buying privately or through the social or health services.
Most DLCs operate as charities and offer impartial advice. If they do sell equipment, their main consideration is to provide you with the information for specific solutions and give you a choice. If possible, ring to make an appointment before you visit a DLC so they can make sure there's someone free to talk to you.
Google 'Disabled Living Centres' to find your nearest DLC.
Helpful organisations for older people
Age UK has useful information for older people, sells products and has a free advice line. Contact one of the following offices, depending on where you are:
Last updated: February 2010