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Staying Independent & Well

Chapter One - Health & wellbeing

NHS Health Checks are free for anyone between 40 and 74. They only take between 20 and 30 minutes. It is a set of simple tests and questions and is a great way to find out how healthy you are and how to prevent some serious health conditions. Ask your GP about a Health Check. You can also find out more on the NHS website.

Health trainers can support you to change aspects of your lifestyle such as giving up smoking reducing alcohol intake, improving your diet, losing weight etc.

Having a balanced diet with plenty of fluids and an active lifestyle can dramatically improve health and well-being and reduces the risk of getting a large number of diseases.

For advice on a good diet, talk to your GP who can refer you to a dietitian for specialist, free advice. If you are having trouble being able to afford food, there are organisations that can help, The Trussell Trust can tell where you can obtain food locally from a food bank. Call them on: 01722 580 180.

Taking exercise is vital to staying healthy. it can reduce your risk of major illnesses, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by 30%.

Exercise is good for mental as well as physical well-being. Regular exercise can help to reduce the effects of anxiety and depression.

There are plenty of opportunities for taking exercise whether it’s walking or playing a sport in your area. Talk to your GP for information and leaflets on what’s available and if you have access to the internet, check the NHS Choices website.

Help with losing weight. For advice on losing weight, talk to your GP who can refer you to a dietitian for specialist, free advice. Health trainers can also support you to lose weight etc. 

The Better Health brand offers hints, tips, tools and offers to reduce weight and be active, whatever your fitness level.

If you live in Scotland, please visit Eat Better Feel Better.

The NHS Choices website has a big range of tools and valuable information to help you lose weight.

It’s important to look after your feet. No matter how mobile you are. Keeping feet healthy means less stress for the rest of your body. Foot problems can lead to other problems like back pain. If you have painful feet or any other foot problem, talk to your GP who can arrange for you to see a podiatrist (a specialist who looks after feet).

Stopping Smoking is essential if you want to live a healthier life and prevent major diseases. Smoking is the primary cause of preventable illness and death with 100,000 people dying every year in the UK. But we all know it can be difficult to quit – nicotine is a drug.

The NHS has a free service to support people who want to stop smoking. You can receive 1 to 1 support from a specialist stop smoking adviser as well as group and drop-in services. Call the NHS on: 0300 123 1044

You can also contact your GP for a full range of information and advice on how to stop smoking.

Getting a good night’s sleep is very important to overall health. Most people at some point in their lives will have times when they’re not getting as much sleep as they need. Sleep patterns can be affected if you are worried about something.

It can be worrying if you or someone you know notices that you are becoming more forgetful or confused. It’s important to understand that, if your memory seems to be getting worse, it does not necessarily mean that you are developing dementia. If you or someone you know are worried about memory, you should first consult your GP.

There are things which you can do to reduce the chances that you will develop dementia as you get older:

Exercising your brain: Evidence suggests that keeping mentally active can help to prevent or slow down memory problems. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, Word searches and jigsaws are all good ways of keeping the mind active. You could also look into adult education courses at your local college or community centre, or find clubs and organisations that offer activities you enjoy, like board games, book discussions, music or art.

Staying fit and healthy: Exercising helps the mind stay alert. You could try going for walks or to your local gym if you can manage it. Plenty of fruit, vegetables and protein in your diet will help to keep your body and brain healthy. A vitamin or mineral supplement might also be useful, particularly for older people.

Check the Alzheimer’s Society website for full list of events and activities happening near you

Keeping an eye on your blood pressure: People with high blood pressure are at great risk of developing vascular dementia. Make sure that you have your blood pressure checked regularly by your GP.

Support for people with dementia: Dementia describes a number of different conditions that can affect our brains, usually as we get older, and can cause a variety of symptoms including memory loss, confusion and increased problems in looking after ourselves (not everyone with memory loss has dementia though).

Having dementia does not mean that you cannot have a say in how you are cared for. There are a number of services that can support people living with dementia and carers who look after them.

Age UK runs a full range of dementia services including the ‘My Memories Cafe’, trips and outings, a Men’s group, Young At Heart (for younger people with memory loss) and the ‘Movement for Life’ exercise course.

Phone: 0800 055 6112 or Contact Us

Good mental health is about feeling well in your own mind. it’s just as important as good physical health. Our mental health can change over time, because of life events which cause distress or unhappiness, or sometimes with no apparent cause. These changes can lead to mental health difficulties or illness. Mental health difficulties are very common and affect one in four of us at some point in our lives.

If you feel a bit down, alone, finding it difficult to be motivated or make decisions, this can be a sign that you have some issues that can be helped by talking to someone. Speak to your GP if you have any concerns about your mental health. You can also contact the national mental health charity MIND on 020 8519 2122 or text: 86463.

A learning disability affects the way someone understands information and how they communicate. They can have a difficulty understanding new or complex information, learning new skills and coping independently.

A person with some form of learning difficulty may find that everyday activities like work, education and jobs around the house can be a challenge. Sometimes they may feel lonely because they don’t have anyone to talk to about how they are feeling. Learning disabilities range from mild to quite severe.

MENCAP is a learning disability charity committed to valuing and supporting people with a learning disability, and their families and carers. They support thousands of people with a learning disability to do the things they love. Call MENCAP on 0808 808 1111

If you are worried about how much you are drinking, or about your drug use, the best place to first seek help may be your GP. Your GP can discuss your concerns with you, assess the nature of your problems, and help you choose the most appropriate treatment. Your GP may offer to treat you or may refer you on to another service.

The NHS offer a range of alcohol support services to help those who believe they may have a problem with their drinking or substance abuse.

Drinkaware offers support for family members with alcohol problems. For confidential calls, Phone on 0300 123 1110

Chapter Two - At home

Physiotherapists help people affected by injury, illness or disability by using movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. Depending on your situation you may be offered the chance to see a physiotherapist following a spell in hospital, or after seeing a GP, district nurse, social worker or other health and social care professional.

You can also hire a physiotherapist by contacting the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists who can advise on ‘physio’s’ in your area. Phone: 020 7306 6666. The NHS Choices website also has a lot of information on physiotherapy services and how to access them.

Walking aids and equipment. Specialist equipment, including walking sticks and walking frames, can enable you to walk more safely, steadily and independently.

You can buy equipment online or by phone. The Disability Living Foundation are an independent organisation offering impartial advice and guidance on what will meet your needs and can advise on where you can buy specific items of equipment. Contact them on 0300 999 0004.

Medequip are a company that supply walking aids and equipment and you can contact them on: 0800 910 1864. There are a number of other companies who sell mobility equipment  including high street retailers such as Boots and Argos.

Worried about falling. Trips, slips and falls are among the most common types of an accident to occur in the home. As you get older or less mobile, trips and falls can be more dangerous. Falling heavily can lead to serious injuries such as sprains or broken bones and sometimes people find it difficult to get back up again.

The NHS runs a free local Falls Prevention Service who can give advice, help and even special classes to help you stay on your feet. Specialist staff will look at your individual situation and refer you to the most appropriate service to help you avoid fall.

t’s reassuring to know that by simply pressing a button on a pendant around your neck or wrist, help will quickly arrive if you suddenly become unwell at home, or have had a fall or accident and can’t get up. An alarm alerts a central team who will check that you are alright or contact named relatives or friends to check that you are okay. The central team or your named friend/relative will then come and help you if you trigger the alarm.

There are other gadgets that can help, such as falls detectors and other sensors in the home to detect potential risks, burglar alarms and safety devices etc.

You can buy these gadgets online or by phone. The Disability Living Foundation is an independent organisation offering impartial advice and guidance on what will meet your needs and can advise on where you can buy specific items of equipment. Contact them on 0300 999 0004.

There are a number of other companies who sell gadgets including high street retailers such as Boots and Argos.

As we get older it can become more difficult to complete some everyday tasks. There might be other reasons, such as a disability, why we can have problems with day-to-day living. Ideally, everyone wants to carry on being independent, and staying in our own homes is good for us physically and mentally. Sometimes that means accepting that we need someone else to assist us with certain essential tasks. Perhaps family and friends can help, or maybe it means paying for someone to provide the support you need.

There are a large number of care agencies who can provide trained staff to help you with everyday tasks. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates care agencies.

You can search for care agencies and read the CQC’s reports about them to make sure you choose the agency that is appropriate for you at or phone 03000 616161

You can also search for care agencies on the NHS Choices website

If you are finding it difficult to prepare a hot main meal for yourself, and you are able to use an oven or microwave, you could consider buying ready meals. A number of companies will deliver ready meals on a regular basis, though you would need a freezer to be able to store them safely. Some companies also do daily hot meal deliveries.

The following companies can deliver batches of frozen meals to your door:

Sodexo delivers frozen meals, hot daily meals, and daily tea-time snacks. Phone: 02 07404 0110.

Wiltshire Farm Foods deliver batches of frozen meals to your home on a regular basis and provide a wide variety of options for people with different tastes or dietary needs. Call them on 0800 077 3100

Appetito delivers hot daily meals, or frozen meals in batches, to your door.

As we get older, or have problems with mobility, going to the shops can be more difficult. There are services in your area to help you get to the shops, even if you are struggling to walk as well as you used to.

The official GOV.UK website has a range of options for people with disabilities to help move throughout their area.

Pets can provide companionship if we are lonely, and can encourage us to take more physical exercise. Petting an animal has been shown to decrease blood pressure and heart rate, providing a calming effect; even watching fish in an aquarium can be beneficial.

There are many organisations to help you if you’re thinking about getting a pet. Many also help rescued animals find new homes.

Animal Rescue is a directory of animal rescue websites grouped by location and animal with lost and found pets and pets needing new homes.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is the leading animal welfare charity. They have animals who are looking for new homes. Phone the local West London branch on 020 7272 2264.

Chapter Three - Maintaining & adapting your home

Living in your own home and remaining safe, independent and comfortable can be made much easier by making changes to your surroundings that suit your needs. You may have heard of people who have installed a stair lift, ramp or accessible shower in their home. Of course, these cost money. But there is often money available to help you pay towards the cost of any work needed.

To make adaptations to your home you will need to seek specialist advice from trained health and social care professionals, equipment providers, or qualified builders and tradespeople. The following adaptations could make your home more suitable for you.


Powered chairs which run on tracks up and down your stairs and enable you to carry on using both floors of your home.

Age UK provides advice on installing a stair lift and can put you in touch with a reputable supplier. Phone them on 0800 566 8435.

The Stairlift Reviews website has easy to understand information on stair lifts for people with mobility issues and aims to make the process of buying a stairlift easier. Phone them on 020 7175 1380.

Access ramps and wheelchair lifts

If you use a wheelchair and have steps within your home you could consider installing an access ramp. There are many companies who provide access ramps, including The Ramp People – phone them on 01372 478960.

For some wheelchair users, a wheelchair lift may help to negotiate steps – particularly useful if you have a flight of steps up to your front door.

Stannah is one of the many websites offering a specialist provision on lifts for wheelchair users. Phone them on 01264 339090.

Depending on your situation, including your financial circumstances, you may be eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant to help with the cost of making adaptations to your home. For more information phone your local council.

For more information on maintaining and adapting your home and grants that may be available to help you with the cost, visit People First website.

Keeping your home well maintained can sometimes be difficult, particularly if you have health problems or are short of money. But a well-maintained home can help you stay in better health and to avoid accidents.

Age UK operates ‘practical help’ handyperson services. These services offer older people extra help with small practical jobs to make their lives easier and safer around the home. This service is free of charge, however, donations to Age UK are always welcome.

Every now and again most of us will get the feeling that we’ve gathered too much ‘stuff’ and will have a clear out or spring clean to create some space. But for some people gathering possessions and then not wanting to let some of them go, can become a problem.

The Help For Hoarders website was set up by the daughter of someone who has problems with hoarding and provides information and advice to anyone affected by hoarding issues.

The Counselling Directory allows you to search for specialist counsellors and therapists who can support you with a hoarding problem.

Chapter Four - Looking After Someone

Carers UK is a nationwide organisation providing information, advice and support to Personal Assistants. They provide telephone, one-to-one and group support.  Contact them on: 0808 808 7777,  email them directly or become a member of their online Forum.

If you are providing support to an adult with a disability or health problem you may be entitled to a carer’s assessment from your local council. This might enable you to receive a wide range of support which will help you in your caring role. Contact your local council to request an assessment. You just need your postcode to find your local council below.

Following a carer’s assessment you may be entitled to receive Carer Personal Budget. This is a sum of money which you can use to pay for support and activities which will help you to manage the demands of being a carer.

Taking a Break

Taking a short break from your caring role can allow you to recharge your batteries and focus a bit more on yourself. If the person you look after has had an assessment from the local council, you may be entitled to support in taking a break. Contact your council using the details in the section ‘requesting a Carer’s Assessment’ above.

Chapter Five - Staying Safe

Everyone is entitled to live their lives in safety without being mistreated, hurt or exploited by others. Some people’s situations may make them less able to protect themselves from harm or disability, an impairment or some form of illness.

Mistreating someone is known as ‘abuse’ and if someone fails to properly look after another person in their care this is known as ‘neglect’. Both abuse and neglect of people are never acceptable.

Looking after the safety and rights of an abused or neglected person is known as ‘safeguarding’.

Chapter Six - Getting Out and About

Dial-a-Ride is a free door-to-door service for people with mobility problems who can’t use buses, trains or the underground. You can use Dial-a-Ride to make it easier to go shopping, visit friends and family, or travel to other recreational activities. Friends can accompany you, and the vehicles are adapted for wheelchairs.

There are some things you can’t use Dial-a-Ride for, like hospital appointments or travel to work. To find out more about Dial-a-Ride and to ask for an application form, phone: 0343 222 7777 or visit the Dial-a-Ride website.

Community Transport

If you’re part of a group of people who need transport for an event or a trip, GOV.UK offers a range of services to help facilitate specialized transport.

If you or your group members want to travel in a wheelchair, or find getting up and down steps difficult, then a tail-lift bus will be best for you. if nobody in your group has mobility difficulties, you will probably find a standard minibus will be ideal.

Motability Scheme

The Motability Scheme provides an affordable, worry-free way for people with disabilities to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair in exchange for their mobility allowance.

Phone: 0300 456 4566 to or visit the Motability Website to find out more.

Blue Parking Badges

If you have a disability, the Blue Badge Scheme helps you park closer to your destination. You can generally park for free in pay-and-display and parking meter spaces with no time restrictions, and on single and double yellow lines for up to 3 hours as long as there isn’t a loading ban and you aren’t creating an obstruction. You don’t need to be able to drive to apply for a Blue Badge – you can specify a ‘nominated driver’ who can be someone other than you.

However, eligibility criteria apply, and you will need to supply relevant evidence, and possibly take part in a mobility assessment. Phone: 0343 100 1000

Taxicards (Local to London Only)

The Taxicard Scheme is for people with serious mobility difficulties who find using public transport very difficult or impossible. It allows people to travel in designated licensed London radio taxis at a reduced rate. You can qualify for the taxicard Scheme even if you have a Freedom pass or use other mobility or door-to-door services.

Eligibility criteria apply and you will need to supply relevant evidence.

To apply, phone: 020 7361 2390


Some people find that they need a wheelchair to get around all the time. others may need one at least some of the time, perhaps when they go outside, or when they are feeling particularly tired or unwell.

Wheelchairs are available through CareCo.

Call between 8am and 7pm, 7 days a week on 0800 111 4774.

Going out, having fun and meeting new people are an important part of our lives, but doing these things can be more difficult as we get older or if we have significant health problems. But there are plenty of things for you to do in this part of West London that could suit your particular needs.

What’s On in London

the People First website has a handy summary of resources that can help you find things to do in the capital.


Drop-in Centres and Community Hubs 

Drop-in centres and community hubs provides various activities and opportunities for older adults, and adults with learning disabilities, mental health problems or physical disabilities. They don’t require membership or booking – you can just turn up.

Drop-in centres and hubs are a great way to meet other people, to join in a variety of activities if you want to, and to try new things and have fun.

They often provide a range of services such as:

• Hot or cold food and drink

• A range of activities including outings to parks or local events

• Exercise and fitness sessions, including Tai Chi, dance and aerobics which are tailored to be accessible for people of varied abilities 

• Support with transport to the centre and to local events

• Educational classes

Some of these services may incur a small charge

To find out about drop-in centres and hubs in your area, visit the People First website:

Day Centres

Day centres are friendly, welcoming places offering a variety of leisure, educational, and health and well-being activities. There are centres for older people, people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities or mental health problems.

Day centres are usually for people who need quite a lot of support whilst they are there, with trained staff being on site to offer this support as required.

  • Hot or cold food and drink
  • A range of activities including outings to parks or local events
  • Exercise and fitness sessions, including Tai Chi, dance, and aerobics which are tailored to be accessible for people of varied abilities
  • Support with transport to the centre and to the local events
  • Educational classes

To attend a day centre, unlike drops in and hubs you usually need to have been assessed as being eligible by your local council.

To find out if you are eligible, Phone: 02073613013 or email:

To find out about drop-ins and hubs in your area, visit the People First website:

Things to do – Black and Minority Ethnic Groups

West London is a very cosmopolitan area; there are plenty of social and cultural groups for people of all cultures and ethnicities.

Whether you’re looking for art, music, history, sport or just a chance to spend time with people who share your background, there is bound to be something out there for you.

For a list of local community organisations visit the People First website:

LGBT+ Activity and Social Groups

Being a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person can sometimes feel isolating, particularly if you are older, have a disability, or are a carer for someone else. There are a wealth of organisations and groups which offer advice, support or the opportunity to meet other local LGBT + People.

For a list of local LGBT + Community organisations visit the People First website:

Exercising is vital to staying healthy. It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as a heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50%, and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%. And exercise is good for mental as well as physical well-being. Regular exercise can help to reduce the effects of anxiety and depression.

No matter what your age, ability or level of fitness, there’s an exercise for you. Exercise is often free and easy to do and can have immediate benefits.

The MIND website offers tips on exercise and sport. It also includes information about sporting and leisure activities for people with a disability.

The NHS Choices website has a lot of useful information and ideas on exercise.

Chapter Seven - Requesting an Assessment from the Council

If you feel you need a little more help or would like to discuss the options available to you, you can ask for an assessment from your local council.

The assessment must be carried out by a trained assessor, for instance, a social worker, who will consider a number of factors:

  • Your need and how they affect your wellbeing – for instance, you might need help getting dressed or support to get to work
  • Things you want to do in your life which extra support could help you achieve – for example, to make new friends, or to stay clean and well dressed
  • Any other factors – for example, whether you live alone or whether someone supports you

As a result of the assessment, the council will use national guidelines to work out if you have needs that the council can help with. Not everyone who completes an assessment will be eligible to receive care and support from the council. Even if you are not eligible to receive support from the council they will give you advice and information about what support is available in the community to help you. They will also offer you advice on ways in which you can remain independent, active and healthy as possible.

In Part Two, we explain the full process of what happens during the assessment, and what happens if you are eligible for support from the council.

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