Keeping our toenails neat and our underfoot callouses under control is something we take for granted when we're relatively young and able bodied. As Age UK's Foot Care Coordinator for Chorley, West Lancs and Sefton, I work with people who can no longer undertake their own basic foot care independently.
If people in this situation cannot readily get someone to help with their feet, for financial reasons or otherwise, serious foot problems can develop. This can subsequently lead to immobility, infections and on some occasions, hospital admission. Frequently, these serious and often embarrassing foot problems could have been avoided with daily foot care. If only family, friends and carers were given the knowledge and confidence to help with basic foot care, and to recognise when to seek professional help!
With this in mind I developed the concept of Footcareunited: a voluntary initiative to provide free training on basic foot health to family, friends, carers and volunteers involved in care for the elderly. The idea is that Footcareunited would offer basic foot care advice and training to anyone in a caring role, giving them the knowledge and confidence to provide ongoing help to those who need it. This would not only mean that many serious foot problems could be avoided, but would also help to further develop closeness between the care giver and receiver.
Earlier this year I applied for the Cosyfeet Podiatry Award in the hope that the £1000 prize money could be used to turn the Footcareunited concept into a reality. I'm pleased to say that I was successful! I am now in the planning stages of setting up Footcareunited with Cosyfeet's help.
Now in its ninth year, the Cosyfeet Podiatry Award assists podiatrists and podiatry students to develop their professional knowledge and skills while benefitting others. The award is open to those who are planning voluntary work, a work placement or research, whether in the UK or abroad. As I am currently studying podiatry part time at Salford University I qualified to enter and am so pleased I did.
In future I hope to write about how the Footcareunited concept has been turned into a reality, and let you know how you, as a carer, can get involved.
By Jay Wasilewski