Elderly Hertfordshire residents are being targeted by offenders claiming to be Police officers

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Hertfordshire Police have sent out notice to alert Hertfordshire residents that there is a spike in cases of courier fraud in Hertfordshire.

Elderly Herts residents are being targeted by offenders claiming to be Police officers – mostly saying they work for the Met Police but in some cases for Herts Police.

The offenders tell them that are investigating someone who works at the bank and that this ‘person’ is suspected of supplying counterfeit currency. The victim is told to go the bank and withdraw large sum of cash so it can be ‘checked’.

A courier attends the victims home address and takes the money. The victim will receive a phone call confirming that there is counterfeit currency in the money handed over. They are requested to return to the bank (or their other banks) to withdraw more money, again this is picked up by a courrier. 

To keep yourself and your family, friends and neighbours safe, Hertfordshire Constabulary have created Scam Safety Documents to help you stay Scam Aware.

If you are not happy with a phone call or are suspicious of a conversation you have with a caller then please end the call and contact police via the non-emergency number, 101. Remember to wait a few minutes before dialling to ensure you are not reconnected to the fraudster.

Meet the dogs and their owners who are making a difference to people living with dementia in St Albans

The Park Side View Dementia Care Home in St Albans opened its doors on Thursday 3 October to a number of visitors – both human and canine. The care home has been running pilot Dementia Dog Days for the past six months to support people with dementia and their carers. They have been a great success.

Hertfordshire County Council has worked with Hertswise, Dogs for Good and local volunteers and their specially-trained and assessed pet dogs to establish this monthly event at Park Side View. The care home offers a flexi-care scheme that provides specialist accommodation and care services to older people.

The Dementia Dog Days are funded by The Big Lottery and aim to bring joy, happiness and conversation into a group setting of people with dementia and their carers. This helps improve their quality of life, provides respite for carers and promotes access to dementia support services in the community. They are one of three pilots that are currently running nationally as part of a wider research project by Dogs for Good, using dogs to engage with people with dementia. 

Six volunteers have been working with Dogs for Good to train their pet dogs to meet with the clients and carers at Park Side View. The client’s family members and carers often report the beneficial impact this has on them, lasting long after each event and triggering positive reminiscing and increased opportunities for sharing meaningful time together

Jemma is one of the volunteers and the owner of Otis. When Jemma was asked about what her favourite thing has been about volunteering for the past 6 months at the Home, she said: “Talking to people who don’t have the opportunity to have their own dogs has been great – and being able to facilitate it. Everyone has been positive, and this has been good for the carers as well as it gives both the clients and carers something to look forward to when we come here.”

“Coming along and chatting to people goes a long way – it’s a great conversation starter and makes people feel more relaxed.”

Volunteer Helen and her dog Milo

The pilot has been such a success that Hertfordshire Taking the Lead intend to not only continue at Park Side View, but also expand across the County.

‘Hertfordshire Taking the Lead’ was created by veterinary surgeon and County Councillor and Vice Chairman of Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), Susie Gordon. Susie, together with Hertfordshire’s Public Health Department use a range of dogs – from specifically trained dogs for Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) to the well-behaved pets of HCC staff. This trailblazing initiative is a completely new and novel approach to improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable residents.

Music Therapy sessions are a hit at Hertswise Dementia Hubs

Clients at Sawbridgeworth Dementia Hub playing assortment of instruments.
  • Music 24 provide music therapy for older people in Hertfordshire
  • Dementia clients and their carers find their musical talents in activity session

Music 24 have returned to Hertswise bringing fun and excitement.

The music therapy charity aims to offer those who are most socially isolated a chance to be creative with music.

“Music 24 aims to offer those who are most socially isolated and vulnerable in our society the opportunity to engage in their local community in a creative and non-judgemental environment.”

Music 24

Through their therapy sessions, the charity puts the clients in the driving seat to help them to take the reins and take charge of their wellbeing.

The organisation attends one of Hertswise dementia hubs in Sawbridgeworth regularly, offering the opportunity for clients to express themselves through music.

Debbie Lindsay, Hertswise Hub Session Leader, said: “We had Music 24 in for a brilliant session, it was thoroughly enjoyed by all.”

For more information about Music 24 visit: http://www.music24.org.uk

The inspirational John Ley on life with Alzheimers

It all started so, so well. I met the beautiful Linda in Easter 1985, proposed on Valentine’s Day 1986 and in June three years later we were married.

Along came child number one, Thomas, born in October 1991. Sprog Two arrived two years later but when the midwife called for the duty paediatrician clearly all was not well.

“Is there a problem?” I asked.  “Yes, I think there is,” she replied. “She’s got Down’s Syndrome, hasn’t she?” The Doctor looked stunned. But  – and I don’t believe in this stuff normally – I had had a premonition on the journey to the hospital.

Katie was born with Down’s and suddenly our perfect lives were not so perfect. Quickly she became a joy but one morning – our wedding anniversary 16 years ago – Linda couldn’t wake her. She was rushed to St Mary’s in London and spent three weeks fighting for her life.

Katie had developed Type 1 diabetes but now copes admirably. And she has become my crutch, alongside her brother, since another problem decided to pop up in our lives.

Linda was wonderful with the kids, encouraging them, cajoling them, loving them, challenging them while I was working as a football writer with The Daily Telegraph, jetting all over the world to watch football.

But soon after she reached 50 we, as a family, noticed something wasn’t quite right. Linda would forget things, miss-place objects, get lost on routine journeys. In isolation, things we all do, but collectively a worry.

One neurologist confronted our fears with incredulity. She was only in here early 50s, how could it possibly be dementia? Linda’s dad had dementia. I knew. So, I think, did Linda.

After nearly three years of investigations – brain scans, lumbar puncture tests, countless MMSE tests – our worst fears were confirmed. At the age of 53 Linda was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s.

A quite brilliant artist, she was developing her skills to the extent that she was selling her art, had a website and was thriving at what she did best. The art continued for a couple of years, but I noticed her paintings were now not up to their usual standard.

Linda’s deterioration has now become rapid. She cannot read or write. She seems to have tunnel vision, can barely talk and now has epilepsy and psychosis. I have to dress and wash her, help her at meal times and with her more personal needs. That’s fine. But as a family we have already lost a devoted mum and darling wife. She still looks so young, and when she smiles I see the Linda of old.

We have been lucky with help, both for Katie and Linda. Katie dances, plays the piano and teaches other special needs kids.

Linda now goes to day care twice a week and has four three-hourly visits a week from Crossroads Care.

She is looked after fortnightly by Turning Point, a charity for younger dementia sufferers, attends a wonderful music therapy group, Music 24, and goes signing with Singing Down Memory Lane. In addition MIND’s weekly Hub is a welcome break.

But once that is over, home can be a lonely place. I have lost my best mate, my lover, my soul partner. Recently she has been going into care for two weeks, and while I hate losing her for a fortnight I need that break to recharge.

To deal with everyday life I try and stay positive. I am still in my 50s – just – but I mix with many wonderful carers, who are older than me, and I wonder how they cope.

We had an extension built to accommodate the inevitability that Linda will eventually be unable to use the stairs. A downstairs bathroom with walk-in shower is already well  used, while her future bedroom is, for now, a music room with a piano – and a load of her art work on the walls.

To relax I am learning to tickle the ivories – badly – while as a family we have been ‘adopted’ by some wonderful people at The Golden Lion pub in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire. All the locals know about Linda and Katie and look out for them. I can have a quiet pint in the knowledge that both are safe.

Without that refuge and the friendship of a growing army of carers – and their partners – I don’t know how I would cope. I still don’t know how I get by. It’s something you do. Unconditional love maybe? A reminder of those vows we took nearly 30 years ago? I don’t really know the answer, but I am determined to give the lady that was Linda Ley my unquestioned and total support for as long as I can. Because that is what love, in any form, is all about. Isn’t it?

Sainsbury’s trials new sunflower lanyard initiative to help customers with hidden disabilities

Sainsbury’s recognises there are hidden disabilities

Sainsbury’s has announced the extension of a new trial to help enhance the shopping experience for customers with hidden disabilities. The initiative will offer shoppers the option to pick up a lanyard, which has been purposely designed to act as a discreet sign for store colleagues to recognise if they may need to provide a customer with additional support when in store. 

Launched initially in Sainsbury’s Barnstaple and rolling out to more stores this month, the scheme helps those with a number of disabilities, such as autism, dementia, visual or hearing impairment. Colleagues will be happy to provide extra support such as opening a new checkout lane, assisting with finding shopping items or simply giving them more time at the checkout. Lanyards will be available to collect for free and are for each customer to keep so they can wear it every time they come into store. 

Tim Fallowfield, Company Secretary & Corporate Services Director for Sainsbury’s, said: “We want to be the most inclusive retailer and we understand that a busy supermarket environment can present challenges for some of our customers. As the first retailer to offer this service, this initiative is just one example of the steps we are taking to give our customers the best possible experience when shopping. We are working with our colleagues to ensure that they are fully equipped to provide assistance to those who need it and we encourage feedback from local communities where we are trialling the initiative.”

The additional stores partcicipating in Hertfordshire are:

  • Ware Star Street
  • Broxbourne High Road
  • Waltham Cross
  • Bishop Stortford
  • Hertford
  • Borehamwood Shenley Road
  • Hoddesdon
  • Welwyn Garden City
  • London Colney
  • Potters Bar