Browsing Tag

buildmumahouse

5 Steps to an Ageless Garden

January 28, 2020
Buildmumahouse accessible garden

Spring is my favourite time of year. I love stepping outside and spotting a clump of green shoots that have just pierced through the dark wet soil. One day a branch is brown, next morning there are buds swelling and leaves peeping through… and then comes the knock-out scent of daffodils and hyacinths on the cool air.

Plants and sniffing the air in a garden just makes me happy, gardening keeps me physically active and leaves me feeling energized and connected. Seeing all of those clumps of snowdrops this time of year urges me to get out there and tidy up the mounds of dead leaves in corners, and clear the way for the crocuses.

As we age, or if we lose mobility, gardening and enjoying the garden can be important therapeutic factors in health and wellness.

Gardening can bring us food and exercise, and keep our minds sharp as we age. Learning to adapt to changing physical, familial and social situations is key to continuing to garden into our retirement years.

Ageless gardens. Vision TV. Canada

Last week I spoke to Jonathan Kemp, horticulturalist and garden designer about how a garden can be designed to make it accessible and beautiful.

I asked Jonathan about his work designing gardens and how he addresses the needs for anyone who has reduced or mobility issues or is at an age when they want to have their own ageless garden. Jonathan has designed many gardens here in my area of South West London and he is well loved. Not only is he is a brilliant plantsman who cares passionately about his clients, but he’s thoughtful in his design and he is a great listener. Jonathan told me that he is driven by his “fascination with plants” and his belief that:

“…even the most simple of gardens can hugely add to someone’s quality of life.”

Jonathan’s 5 Steps to an ageless, accessible garden:

1. Make it easy to maintain

“Make sure you have enough ground cover plants – smother the soil to stop weeds and help stop seeds germinating

Start phasing out herbaceous plants and plant with evergreen or shrubs, they require far less work.

Avoid anything fast-growing because you want minimise pruning back more than twice a year.”

In my garden I have a fantastic low maintenance Sarcococca Confusa or sweet box, a compact evergreen shrub with simple, leathery leaves and tiny, very fragrant creamy-white flowers starting in December through to spring, at the same time as shiny black berries – berries that can last until the next winter.

Jonathan Kemp’s planting suggestions for a low maintenance garden:

low maintenance, accessible garden, buildmumahouse, Jola Piesakowska, Jonathan Kemp

2. Consider raised beds.

“Raised beds are a massive project and they are costly, you have to dig up all your plants and replant at the new high level that’s on top of building the raised bed. If you don’t replant but increase the soil around an existing shrub or tree it will rot and die.

Brick is expensive, rendered blocks is the cheaper option and give you a nice clean look, an you can even consider adding dye to the render to give you a maintenance free colour.

©Jonathan Kemp: Garden Verve raised beds

Wooden “railway sleepers” measure 200mm by 100mm. Stack two on top of each other on their sides so that takes you to 400mm.

Then lay the top one flat. It will overhang by 100mm and allows it to  be used as a seat, a perch and at 500mm that is a nice height to sit at. Or if you are in a wheelchair to put cup of tea.

We always use new ones – softwood pine spruce or hard wood oak. I personally don’t think there’s much in it, but oak moves and twists and has character.

Old Sleepers were creosoted which means that on a hot day the tar will soften, be very sticky to touch and will stain. Fine if you have a large country garden and have areas that you won’t be touching or leaning against.”

Raised bed planting:

Plant bushes and slow growing plants with lots of scented flowers. If your eyesight is failing scent is very important, feature plants with a rustle, and leaves with a nice to the touch too.

In my garden I love the soft-to-the-touch lamb’s ears, Stachys byzantine “silver carpet” and the sound of the hairy, black seed pods of my Broom plants, they crack as they explode on a hot summer’s day.

Jonathan Kemp’s planting suggestions for raised bed planting:

raised bed garden planting scheme Buildmumahouse Jola Piesakowska

3. Plan your garden paths.

“Look at how you move around the garden paths, every height differentiation is a potential trip hazard. Any changes in level should be a smooth transition. And consider the width of the path – would a zimmer frame fit? Could you walk comfortably with a stick by your side?

Or completely redesign your garden to accommodate wheelchair use”

4. To mow or not to mow?

For a low maintenance garden, Jonathan always considers two options – laying an artificial lawn or building a courtyard garden.

A few months ago I filmed a video testimonial given by one of Jonathan’s clients – she was so happy with her transformed garden that she commissioned it as a thank you. The biggest life changer was the maintenance free, natural looking lawn. 

I was impressed with the lawn as I didn’t realise it was synthetic at first, and we didn’t talk about it until I filmed the testimonial.

I just thought what a nice garden!

“Be careful which product you use and there is a right way to lay it – it has a front and back. I do come across some disasters, you can get it wrong when the grass fibres point in a particular direction.”

Anna Jezuita
Low maintenance garden designed by Jonathan Kemp featuring an artificial lawn.

5. Courtyard Garden

“With an artificial grass or with a courtyard you will have a garden all year round and won’t be banished during the wet winter months. There is a big variation in price in the range of stone paving. To soften the look leave out sections and plant ground cover herbs, such as thyme, they smell great when you brush past the leaves or walk over a plant.”

©Jonathan Kemp Garden Verve courtyard garden design

Setting out and transforming your garden to a space that you can enjoy all year round and from year to year is a big undertaking. From what I have seen of the gardens that Jonathan has designed, I would say that the benefits of using a designer who is a horticulturalist is a game changer. But the most important thing, I think, is to work with someone like Jonathan who is experienced and can guide you, he’s seen his designs mature over the years.

Planning an accessible, ageless garden is daunting but exciting and working with a horticulturalist means you will get the garden to work for you. With the right design and planting your garden space can become your haven and with good design and careful thought somewhere that is accessible for years to come.

You can visit Jonathan’s website click here: Garden Verve

For more garden inspiration visit my Instagram account @buildmumahouse

I tried wheelchair rugby and it was #BRUTIFUL !

January 19, 2020

The knot in my stomach tightened, my legs felt like lead, I’m so rubbish at sports. I walked up to Britannia Leisure Centre. I’ve never played rugby. I’ve never been in control of a wheelchair. What if I humiliate myself, let my team down? Nobody will want me in their team. I’ve already arrived late.

I opened the swing doors to the sports hall, sports noise blasted out at me: a referee whistle, cheers, clapping and laughter. I felt a buzz of excitement. I had arrived at the Bolt Burdon Kemp wheelchair rugby event.

A few days before, I had been thumping away at my computer, I work from home and I was feeling quite isolated. My email inbox pinged. ‘ooh a non-work email!’ an invitation

“I am emailing to check whether you may be available and would like to attend the Wheelchair Rugby event organised by Bolt Burdon Kemp… I have played wheelchair rugby before and loved every minute of it! The event is run by Wheelchair Rugby Experience who take into account different levels of abilities to ensure that wheelchair rugby can be enjoyed by everyone. It can also give a great insight into what it means to be a wheelchair user… if this is of interest to you, it would be great to see you there!”

I didn’t hesitate. “yes. Yes. Yes please !”

“Wonderful” was the reply “see you there. “

I Googled Wheelchair Rugby Experience…

The day, lead and run by Paralympians, will provide a competitive day with a focus on specific issues of trust building, decision-making, communication, leadership, honesty, problem-solving, and change management. This experience will challenge your team’s dynamics and encourage self-reflection as well as being great fun. It is shaped completely with you in mind and we will guide you through building your Wheelchair Rugby Experience.

wheelchair rugby experiene buildmumahouse
©www.wheelchairrugbyexperience.com

As soon as I arrived and I was welcomed by staff from Bolt Burdon Kemp and my nerves melted away. The event was so well organised and the atmosphere was warm and supportive. I was allocated my team colour, introduced to my team mates and we were each given a pair of gloves. Now for the safety briefing and introduction to wheelchair rugby!

Rugby wheelchairs are something out of Mad Max! Steel and structural, they are designed with a metal hoop around the base, protecting your legs and feet when in rugby ‘combat.’ The wheels and every detail have been designed to protect you and keep you upright so that you can feel safe and that you too, can smash and tackle fearlessly.

I learnt that the gloves were not just to keep my hands from blistering. They helped me grip the wheels of the wheelchair, and helped me to spin the wheels and try and go as fast as possible…and also when in a manoeuvre to tackle opponents.

Keep your arms away from the wheels or you will get friction burns!

This is how you pick the ball off the floor and this is how you ride with the ball on your lap.

Suddenly the whistle blows and we’re off! Of course I was not as rubbish as I thought I would be, of course I felt safe in the design of the wheelchair. I was having fun and doing my best to do my bit for the team. On the side lines, keeping an eye on the game and the players, whizzing over to help, advise, encourage, give tactical advice were the professionals. 

Game one was over. Everyone from both teams, wheeled around and we did high fives, shook hands “well done” gripped each other’s arms. We were all equals, we looked each other in the eye and laughed “great game.”

I wheeled over to the side line. I stood up and walked away from the wheelchair and suddenly as I went to share a joke with a team mate I felt very vulnerable. Today I could stand up and walk away, skip about and run but there were team mates that I had just played with and they couldn’t. They were busy transferring into their own wheelchairs. 

The day tournament was organised by Bolt Burdon Kemp – BBK – a firm of solicitors who specialise in a range of cases including serious injury claims. During the day I had some really insightful conversations with their solicitors and their colleagues about their work. BBK represent people who have sustained brain injury, spinal injury and they deal with medical negligence and accident claims. I began to realise how complex injury cases are in terms of the legal proceedings and how passionately they represent their clients. Each of the solicitors I spoke to had a detailed knowledge of their area of specialism, not just in terms of the law, but also the medical facts. What made me really stop and think was when they explained to me the impact on a person’s life, physically, mentally and how a family is impacted not just financially. I also spoke to a few people in our teams who had had life changing injuries. We spoke about how their lives had changed, their legal battles. I heard how one person who, experiencing the Invictus Games, had been inspired and motivated, leading them to train and become an athlete at an international level.

My Wheelchair Rugby experience totally blew me away. I met some fantastic people, we laughed, we pulled stomach muscles, I was totally outrun by team mates who were disabled and wheelchair users. I experienced how it feels when a room is not wheelchair friendly or a conversation goes on above your head. Most of all, I realised how important the support of a team is and how sport lifts us all.

A great day, we all won. 

Bolt Burdon Kemp are specialist claims solicitors covering brain injury, spinal injury, military claims, abuse claims, medical negligence and accident claims.

Make someone happy. Make ’em Polish chicken soup.

January 13, 2020

Yes, it’s true, Polish chicken noodle soup IS Polish penicillin. Make it because it’s warming, it’s comforting, it awakens the appetite, it’s good for young fussy eaters, it’s good for anyone who is unwell and it’s delicious when you are feeling happy or like me today with a case of the Sunday Blues. We call it Rosół- that’s pronounced ro-soow.

This recipe is my version of chicken noodle soup that I make for my family or friends; my mum makes her version, my dad made his, my grandmas made theirs and my son makes his own. My dad’s golden rule was that it has to be eaten a soon as its ready and can’t be reheated. My mum’s rule was that she cooked it (with loads of sweet carrots) before  I arrived with her grandson  so that she could give it to him for his mid morning meal… after I had finally left them alone.

This recipe is my version that is perfect for taking over to a friend or relative who needs…some chicken noodle soup. Its full of vitamins, micro nutrients from the vegetables and the chicken bones and chicken liver but it just tastes light and savoury and sweet. It’s umami on a spoon. I can only get all the right ingredients for myself from the Polish Shop in Streatham. But as almost every High Street in the UK has a Polski Sklep, I will point you in the right direction so that you can get the right stuff too!

Ok here goes:

In the veg area of the Polski Sklep find a bundle of vegetables called WLOSZCZYZNA (V-WOZH-CHEEZNA)

chicken soup veg

At the meat counter let them know you are buying chicken and ingredients for RO-SOOW and you will get exactly the right ingredients. Half a large chicken: these used to be called boilers in England, chicken gizzards and chicken liver, if they have chicken necks, just take those too!

Rosol ingredients
Wloszczyzna veg bundle, chicken gizzards, onion, chicken livers, chopped carrot, peppercorns and pack of egg vermicelli noddles
for roll
Flat leaf parsley and diced carrot

Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

Half a large chicken (bones included and don’t remove any fat)

1 small washed wloszczyzna bundle

1 large Spanish sweet onion or 2 large shallots, peeled and whole

150 grams chicken livers, washed

150 grams chicken gizzards, washed

2 Large handfuls of egg vermicelli noodles

1-2 carrots finely diced

Half teaspoon of peppercorns

Salt to taste

OR Optional: half a Knorr stock cube

Equipment:

For the soup – Large pasta saucepan with lid or a large saucepan and a slotted spoon

For the noodles – Small saucepan and a sieve

Vegetables and herbs – Sharp knife and chopping board

For taking to a friend or family:

4 small bowls

A large glass jug, or an earthenware bowl

Clingfilm

For serving at home:

Soup bowls

OK Let’s Do it:

In a large saucepan of cold water boil up the half chicken, gizzards and liver. I use my pasta saucepan for rosol as this makes it easy to lift out all of the meat and veg out of the cooked soup at the end. Take this to a rolling boil and skim off the brown foam until it all looks clear. Add the onion or shallots, peppercorns, whole carrots, parsnip and chunk of celeriac.

Use a stock pot or a spaghetti saucepan

Simmer for half an hour.

Add most of the bunch of flat leaf parsley, including the stalks. Carry on simmering for another 30-40 minutes

Add a small bundle of flat leaf parsley
Add a small bundle of flat leaf parsley
rosol Polish Chicken soup
Carry on simmering with the lid on

In the meantime, add 2 handfuls of egg vermicelli noddles to a small saucepan half full with boiling water. Boil for  2-4 minutes, strain and immediately cool down by running cold water over them. Drain and then set aside in a small dish.

Strain, cool down and then drain the egg noddles
Strain, cool down and then drain the egg noddles

Check the flavour of the soup and add salt to taste, sometimes I add half a Knorr chicken stock cube but that is optional. If you don’t have Knorr, don’t bother.

Chop the flat leaf parsley leaves and put into a small bowl.

By now the chicken soup should look clear and golden, smell and taste good. The meat should be falling off the bones and all vegetables very soft but not falling apart.

Remove all the ingredients, if you are using a pasta pan just lift the strainer out and let it drain, otherwise lift out the meat and vegetables carefully with a slotted spoon and put to one side.

Keep the remaining broth on a low heat, add the diced raw carrot and allow to cook. When the carcass has cooled,  pick off the meat and place into a small serving bowl. When cooked, strain the chopped carrot and add to a bowl. If you like extra vegetables, dice one of the cooked carrots and a parsnip for serving as well.

Ready for packing up...
Ready for packing up…

Arrange the cold ingredients: noodles, diced carrots, chicken meat pieces, raw but chopped flat leaf parsley in separate bowls and cover with cling film or lids.

Pour the cold chicken soup into a jug and cover with a lid or cling film and you’re ready to go…

Serving:

Heat the soup to almost boiling. In soup plates or bowls spoon some noodles, chicken meat and carrots. Pour the hot soup over, sprinkle with flat leaf parsley

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

YUM!

When people are in pain or unwell the thing that makes all the difference is human kindness.

Decluttering! Where do I start??

January 5, 2020
how to declutter your kitchen home life

On December 31st 2019 at 6pm I sat down with a glass of water and I decided to lose weight, get fit and organise my life in 2020. I had spent the day looking at social media friends galloping around the British countryside, taking fabulous photos of trees and interesting ‘things’ or grinning in country pubs. If I had posted pictures of my day you would have seen me elbow high in jumpers, rolling knickers the Marie Kondo way, sorting long and short leggings and packing away summer clothes.

January 1st: I got to bed at 2 am, got up at 8am, walked the dogs, poured myself a cup of coffee, the phone rang and next thing I knew I was heading over to my mum’s to help her out. No more time or energy for my stuff.

Decluttering! My New Year’s Resolution failing already. Where do I start??

Would you believe it… Instagram. 2nd January 2020: I found out that Ashley Jordan, the one and only @fairygodperson, is going to grant my wish for a tidy home and mind. Ashley is posting a decluttering tip or job a day for 30 days on her Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds. These are bite sized jobs that will build up, so that by the end of January our clutter will be under control and we can all focus on stress free living. Today, I spoke to Ashley and asked about her New Year’s Resolution campaign that’s going to help us all to de-clutter and reclaim our space in 2020.

30 days to declutter your home on Instagram with @fairygodperson

“Time to sort out your fridge!”

@fairygodperson Day 1 – 2nd January

When I read the first tip and did it, I felt a real sense of achievement. A planned declutter of my home, taking it one step at a time, is really going to help me get freed up the stress of thinking ‘I’ve done this and that for others but I haven’t even done my own home’. Doing that one little thing on day one really helped me clear out the dregs of Christmas and helped me to free up my stress levels. Ashley who has devised the 30 day declutter campaign is a professional organiser. I asked her how she came up with this plan that really understands what we are looking for a the start of a new year?

“January is always my busiest time of the year. People’s …New Year’s resolution is to do a clear out …it’s what’s been annoying them. They’re thinking ‘Right, got to tackle it. I’ve got to get my house in order’ “.

“I’m running this across Instagram. LinkedIn and Facebook. I’m reaching out to young professionals…to the children of parents who might be moving, or people who need to organise their own home so they can help their parents better. I can help everyone get organised.”

The biggest thing that people say to me when they want to do a clutter clear – I didn’t know where to start… The essence of these 30 days of tips is helping people know where to start because it breaks it down for them. Where do I begin? At the beginning!

“I do know that people are not going to do everything.. they are going to be at work or doing things on some days so they can’t do everything that I suggest because some of these tips will be a big job that takes a whole day. At least it’s there to do in the future. This will help people to break it down.”

“my specific thing is helping in people’s homes, helping them to de-clutter or to help when people are downsizing or moving home.”

I asked Ashley how she discovered she had the superpower of organising.

She told me that working in offices she found that when she started to look at the systems and ways of working she naturally re-organised and set up systems that made everything easier and saved money, she would tell her employers “…why things weren’t working and how they can work better and I was always able to re-organise everything ”

Ashley set up One Stop Organisers to “organise things for other people and over the years it’s morphed into being specifically for the older generation and people with disabilities…the house move side of things for them and making their space…work better.”

“When I first started I was helping my best friend and her husband …with filing and sorting out their paperwork… and he designed my logo adding a halo because “I thought about how it make me feel when you’ve been in. I feel so much at peace, you have been angelic. It’s as if you have waved your magic wand.”

My ideal client is someone who is downsizing, over 65, downsizing from a large home into something smaller and they don’t know where to start, because they have probably lived in that house for 20, 30, 40, 50 years.

Ashley told me about the stress of de-cluttering, how she helps people get through the stress of deciding what to get rid of when de-cluttering and downsizing and about the moments of satisfaction when a job is done.

You must also find some moments of joy? Finding something you had forgotten about, awakening really good memories.

“Absolutely. I find people stories of their lives. Because you are going around their home decluttering …every part of their house has a story. I find it a privilege to be able to find out what those stories are as we go round, and people have that space to talk about their life and all the things that they have done.”

But right now I’m on Day 2 and loving Ashley’s advice, it’s really simple and has left me feeling really positive that, with her help, I can make this New Year’s resolution a reality: “As with your fridge, make sure that like things are stored like with like and use baskets and storage trays so things are easier to find and get out. Storage jars are great if you have a lot of room but if you don’t then they will take up more room than they save. Instead keep packets in them and then you can have 2 or 3 half packets in one.”

It’s never too late to start on the One Stop Organiser’s 30 day Clutter Campaign, you can catch up by clicking on one of these links: Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. Once you have completed a declutter job, share your comments and post photos of your achievements. See you on the @fairygodperson sites!

Look no wires! Qmotion Automated blinds.

April 2, 2019

I first saw the Qmotion blinds at Decorex and went WOW! I need. I want. I love them! If you’re into nets and curtains you won’t get it but if you like the streamlined look of a sheer blind in the day or a blackout blind at night, you’re going to get why these are great.

 

c) QMotion

 

I’m 5 foot nothing much and can’t reach the “acorn” on the sprung roller blinds behind the sink in the kitchen. I wobble around bedroom furniture to get to the strings on the side of the IKEA blind. I love the idea of an automated blind system to solve these problems for me.

Qmotion blinds break the mould in automated blinds and shades. These are motorised blinds that are controlled wirelessly and don’t need to be 240v hard wired in for their power.

The Qmotion System

They’re battery powered and designed to be quieter, smoother, more efficient and sleeker than any other automated blinds out there. The inventor Willis Mullet worked in the top end of the automated American garage door industry for years so he knows a thing about smooth mechanics…if it works for all of those little red Corvettes out there it works for me.

This is what he came up with: D cell batteries, mechanism, springs and counterbalances all located in the actual roller part of the blind. Not much fatter than an average roller blind. Quiet, smooth mechanism. Point a remote control or even your iphone at the blind and it smoothly and quietly rolls up and down.

Qmotion demo at Decorex

Qmotion is perfect for me and perfect for anyone who wants easy to use blinds and doesn’t want the hassle and cost of getting an electrician to wire the electrics and then a decorator to tidy up the walls. This is a huge plus for anyone with reduced mobility who doesn’t want the upheaval of a building project just to have some blinds that make their life a bit easier.

Once installed, the batteries powering the blind should last 5 years with average use. The roller has been designed so that once you need to change the batteries you don’t have to remove the roller from the bracket. And if you want to get your hands on the blind there is a manual over ride so you can tug at the blind and it smoothly snaps back to its previous position.

Qmotion automated blinds

Qmotion battery enclosure, the batteries and controls are all inside the roller behind a clip off cover.

So you don’t worry about the mechanism or the installation. You can spend all of your efforts on selecting fabric and colours to match your room, your taste and your lifestyle. On the website there are nearly 600 fabrics to choose from and you can order free swatches either from your supplier or from Qmotion directly.

Some of the fabric choices from Qmotion

My instagram is full of colours go to https://www.instagram.com/buildmumahouse/?hl=en and get inspired!

Go to Pinterest for lots of blinds and shades inspiration and links https://uk.pinterest.com/Buildmumahouse/buildmumahouse-blinds-and-shades/

buildmumahouse, build mum a house, qmotion shades, qmotion blinds, john lewis blinds, john lewis shades, roller blind, motorised roller blind, automatic roller blind, taupe interior

 

 

 

Electronic surveillance systems. Are you spying on your parents or just keeping an eye out for them?

June 12, 2017
Panasonic, iPhone apps, Canary, Jola Piesakowska, Buildmumahouse

A friend’s mum fell in her garden and couldn’t get up, she lay there for hours before anyone knew of her situation.

A workman cleaning a 95 year old’s gutters asked for a glass of water, followed my relative to the kitchen. His accomplice ran upstairs and ransacked the bedrooms.

A family friend collapsed in the shower and couldn’t call for help, her newly renovated home was flooded and ruined. She had to move out.

Very real and frightening stories for anyone who has a relative who wants to stay living independently, at home. And you have a full time job. And you don’t live with your parents.

How can we keep an eye out for someone without being there? How can elderly people keep their independence safe in the knowledge that if something happens their carers can be alerted? I have recently been thinking about this.

Do you remember those baby monitors that you could buy in Mothercare to listen to your baby asleep upstairs? Battery powered, with walkie talkie aerials (and just as crackly). In the 90’s they were the height of techno sophistication, showed off at family gatherings, placed pride of place on the dining table. We would all be suddenly shushed during the meal because sister-in-law thought she had heard a gurgle on the airwaves.

Playskool 1987 baby monitor

We’ve grown up, our kids have grown up and now we’re considering parent monitoring.

In the USA there are service providers of round the clock interactive telecaregiver monitoring

At its offices in Lafayette, Ind., telecaregiver Cady sits before two large computer screens. On one, you can see the Fitzgeralds in Savannah, eating their dinner as Cady chats with them.

There are also thumbnail video images of two-dozen other homes, which Cady will check in with over the course of her shift. If one client signals for help, that image pops up larger. Children of her clients can log into the same video Cady watches and monitor their parents themselves.

Telecaregiver can remind people to take their medication at a certain time. They can alert a relative if someone appears confused or in distress. They can help with the simple tasks of daily life, like the time a client was about to sit down to breakfast.

The telecaregiver zoomed in on the frying pan and said, ‘Maybe you ought to cook the sausage and the eggs a little longer. The eggs look kind of runny and the sausage is pink,’

Fast forward to the High Street of 2017.

I popped into Maplins last weekend and on display there’s so much more than baby monitoring. Just as we had easy-to-use baby monitors, the high street shops are offering home DIY video and sensor monitoring for your home and pets. The new generation home monitoring systems don’t rely on a specialized installer or a contract monitoring alarm system. This is plug and play. Easy to set up technology with audio and video capability is now available at a realistic price.

Home monitoring systems are being sold as a way of protecting your property, keeping an eye on the postman, capturing burglars, seeing what your pets get up to during the day. They are triggered by motion sensors and can even be used to turn on lights or even your heating.

There’s now a vast array of home monitoring systems, linking high definition indoor and outdoor cameras to you mobile phone, computer or tablet. With or without an app. Via wifi or dect. Wired or wireless. Day and night vision.

Video and audio monitoring is now standard, a siren can be activated remotely from your device and some allow a two way conversation between you remotely and the subject of the camera.

Huffington Post summed up how these diy home monitoring systems can be used as  parent monitors keeping tabs on an elderly parent …”

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-t-miller/how-to-keep-tabs-on-an-el_b_8954044.html

…if your mom didn’t pick up her pillbox to get her medicine or didn’t open the refrigerator door to make breakfast like she usually does, or if she left the house at a peculiar time you would be notified and could check on her. You can also check up on her anytime you want online or through a mobile app…

Looking at the range on display on the High Street what caught my eye is the Panasonic Home Safety range of monitors. Right there in Streatham High Road was everything for carers to keep an eye on parents and allow them to stay living independently at home.

The Panasonic Home Monitoring Display in my High Street

Panasonic Home safety range, like many others on the market has a monitor for windows and doors that alerts you when they are opened or closed. You can use this to check on your parents’ daily routine without feeling that you are invading their privacy. Or you can monitor their house for burglars. All from your smartphone.

There are indoor or outdoor monitors that not only transmit video images and audio to you but this range will allow you to speak to the person in the room or at the outside door that you are monitoring. Panasonic videos suggest you use this feature to tell the postman to deliver your parcel to the neighbours when you are out. With an elderly parent you can install this feature to keep an eye on whose at the front door and what they are up to.

Watch your Pets from Work

There are motion detectors that switch on lights when activated, this doesn’t need selling hard as everyone can do with lights coming on automatically to light the stairs or the path to the bathroom at night.

But for me the key differentiator is the water monitor. This is such a great idea for passively keeping an eye on someone’s home where there is the potential of a flooding risk, perhaps someone with early onset dementia symptoms, or prone to forgetfulness when running a bath or sink or shower. Catching a bathroom flood can save damage to a home or could indicate a fall or someone who has been taken unwell in the shower room. It allows you to act in time.

 

Using home monitoring systems as a parent monitor will transform how we can remotely care for an elderly or unwell person. As the carer you could feel that you have set up a care plan that involves you, is relatively low cost and gives 24 hour coverage.

I haven’t actually tested this system, so I can’t comment on how effective any of this is. None of the home monitoring systems seem to have considered the needs of caregivers in their advertising so for now its all about being creative with making these home systems work for your needs.

HOWEVER,

The video cameras are always switched on and walking around your home you can be viewed remotely, without knowing, at any time night or day.

On-line discussion forums have heated debates about how much we should intrude on parents’ privacy. Certainly all of this should be done with your parents’ consent. I’ve read discussions about carer’s personal experiences about where cameras and motion detectors have been put up. The most popular and the locations that are the least contentious seem to be

  • Rogue callers: by the front door pointing to the opening with a clear view to check on callers
  • To check on falls: low level motion activated cameras in the living spaces, the bedroom or bathroom. Motion activated lighting: to turn lights on to prevent falls in low light- walk past a motion sensor and a light is switched on. Monitoring the garden, looking out of a window to check on falls outdoors in the garden as well as keeping an eye on security.
  • Flooding: Water monitors placed in the bathroom by the bath or shower.

 

5 Points to Consider

 

  1. You need to have wi-fi up and running. Some systems use wifi to relay the data you will have to consider putting your parent on a wi-fi plan if they don’t have one already. This may be a cost that you will need to cover.
  2. Always update to the latest firmware and change the password. “This is to announce that firmware has updated for improvement of the cybersecurity vulnerability. To provide the highest levels of security, we recommend you to upgrade the firmware for your products.”
  3. Respect your parent’s privacy and think and a discussion about where you will position cameras. Alternatively there are some very good systems that only rely on motion sensors and give you a feel for changes to a routine.
  4. Storage. Check out costs of storing the footage. Some systems use a cloud storage for the video and charge for the service, some systems have a memory card in the hub and there will be no extra costs.
  5. Plan and agree on network of people who can help when you need to raise the alarm.

 

But is this amount of monitoring, snooping on your parents, is this an invasion of their privacy? What do you think?