Little or no support for caregivers

Photo: Freepik.com

Most people will most likely, at some stage in their lives, become a caregiver. I think Roslyn Carter summed this up best:

“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”
Today, there is greater awareness of the challenge of caregiving. This is especially true because of the ageing population in many parts of the world.

It also seems that because of today’s lifestyle and environment, there is an increase in mental illnesses.

The trouble is, in most places in the world, there is little or no support for caregivers.

I’m not just talking about a Caroline or a website or someone to lend a sympathetic ear. What I mean by support is tax breaks, professional personnel who can assist at no charge. The private health care sector’s costs have just gone up out of all proportion. Who can afford private health care?

Yes, in some countries, the state does provide free psychiatric support and psychiatric medication. If you have certain medical mental illnesses, the state may provide your loved one with a disability grant. But that’s about it.

The challenge is long-term homecare for a loved one with a disability or mental illness. There is no grant for the caregiver. There are no people trained for free home visits. There is no vacation assistance for caregivers. In many places, there is no tax break whatsoever for all the costs of feeding, clothing, and accommodating a loved one with a mental illness.

Some businesses have stepped in to support their employees who are caring for a loved one with a mental illness or an aged parent with a disability. But they are very few. In many places unheard of.

Until there is a change of understanding of what is going on with the high number of people who are caring for loved ones with a disability or mental illness, caregivers will just have to continue doing the best that they can. This is why any form of support, including advice, rest for the caregiver, or even making the odd meal, is welcome.

Be careful of the words you use, you may put potential customers off

Photo by Jimmy Chan

Musicians like Meatloaf are dramatic in their rock music. Many people enjoy this, but others are put off.

Other musicians, quieter in their music, such as Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon, have a huge following. Many people enjoy this more subtle approach.

These days you find proposals that beat the drum so hard that you’re not sure whether they are credible.

Remember infomercials? They may seem outdated. But they’re not. The infomercial video has proliferated. The presenters come on video platforms with an urgent tone, imploring you to watch because there will be some benefit for you. Many people are put off by this kind of hard sell and just don’t watch them.

Others make softer proposals that show beautiful pictures, have little text, and create a desire in their customers’ minds. Many people opt for this kind of approach.

You need to watch the words that you use in any email or business proposal. Some words sell, other words turn off potential buyers.

But it’s not just words. It’s your whole approach.

What do your potential customers want from you and how do they want you to put it across to them?

Presenting the right approach is difficult, whether it’s in an email or a business proposal. 

It’s something that you need to judge. If you know your customers, then you’ll be at an advantage.

I help business people with knowing how to approach their customers in business writing. It could be an email, a business proposal, or any other written communication. 

Some enjoy one-on-one advice for a specific business proposal or series of emails, while others first want to do my series of 20-minute lessons. These mini-lessons show them the basics.

Contact me today and let me know your requirements, whether for training or specific advice for an email or business proposal, and I’ll send you a quote.

Find out more about me, my credentials and my service on ideaaccelerator.co.za.

Special offer – quick training and advice on writing business emails or proposals

I’m writing to you today because of a special opportunity that just came up. It’s a way for you to save 50% over what everyone else is paying for popular advice or training … but you must contact me today. There are only a few spots available at this price, and when they’re gone, that’s it.

Why it matters: Many people in business aren’t being taught how to write emails, business proposals and even how to leave voicemails.

In quick and easy 20-minute lessons, I’ll teach you how to write a business proposal to increase your chances of success.

Or if you need help with writing emails, and I can meet up with you on Zoom and go through the essentials that work in 20-minute lessons.

You may only need one lesson and then you’re on your way.

You may not require training but like some of my customers want advice on a specific proposal you have to write. I’ve assisted many business people and owners to do this effectively.

My rates are competitive, at least 50% below the market average. The reason: to give the small business owner or individual an opportunity to obtain the best advice and training possible. I give session in small chunks instead of some online or university course that’s going to cost you R10,000 or more.

Contact me today via Gmail or Outlook and let me know your requirements, whether training or specific advice for emails or a proposal business proposal, and I’ll send you a quote.

Find out more about me, my credentials and my service on ideaaccelerator.co.za.

Are you up to caregiving?

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

On my early morning run, I came across a young man in his late teens who was sitting under a tree. I instantly knew that something was wrong with him. He wasn’t sitting outside to sun himself. It looked as though he came from a good family but was in dirty clothes with dishevelled hair and a beard.

I stopped running, walked near him, and asked him if he was all right. He didn’t reply. Then I asked him if he needed help. Again, he didn’t reply. I knew I couldn’t interfere or intervene further and walked away.

I continued with my run. I turned around and saw the young man get up and stretch himself.

This incident made an impression on me because one wonders what’s gone wrong here with this young person. I don’t want to speculate, but there could be trouble in the home. He may be on drugs. He could have a mental condition.

A loved one who is in trouble or needs help will often find that their last resort is their parents. If you have a child or loved one with a mental illness, you, as the parent, may well be the last hope.

You never know when a mental condition will surface. Or any other disability. Then you will be thrust into the role of being a caregiver.

Rosalynn Carter described it well: “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” 

Here is a description of a caregiver from Tennessee Tech University. I find this description useful.

“Caregiving is providing care for the daily needs of someone that is unable to care for themselves. The care my include addressing the physical and emotional needs of someone that requires continuous support and attention. The individual could be a loved one or a friend. Most caregiving occurs in the home.”

It is a daunting and demanding role. You need to prepare yourself in various ways. You’ll need to take care of your loved one’s physical and emotional needs. You’ll need to be on call all the time. You’ll find it difficult to get a decent break where you can give yourself a rest.

Dealing with the issue of caring for a loved one, whatever the circumstances, can get extremely difficult at times. This is where the role of a skilled helper or caregiver comes in.

The skilled caregiver is not a psychologist or a medical professional. They are much more than mental and physical health advisors. They take into account the full circumstances of the home and how to deal with complex problems of behaviour and daily living.   A skilled helper assists the caregiver to identify changes that need to be made in the life of the caregiver and the loved one.

I have found that sometimes you can’t do everything on your own and need to reach out to someone who can help you.

Looking after a loved one is going to be difficult. It’s going to challenge you like you’ve never known. You will be, as I said, the last resort for your loved one. You will need to do everything you can to keep them from going off the rails and drifting onto the street.

In a way, that becomes a death sentence. Eventually, I’ve seen that loved ones who, for whatever reason, go out onto the streets can count on a very short lifespan.

Cuisine of the Cape and the Kalahari

Magnificent prawns, calamari, and mussels, made by a dear friend who knows how to cook seafood.

When you stay at beautiful places like False Bay and the Kalahari, you experience beautiful sights, sounds, sensations, smells, and tastes.

It’s tastes I want to talk about today. Let’s start with the wonderful tastes of food I experienced in False Bay while staying in Clovelly earlier this year.

What stands out for me is a very old friend’s braaing skills. He knows how to cook meat, fish, and fowl. I think his secret is getting the fire to the right temperature and cooking slowly.

His wife makes magnificent prawns, calamari, and mussels.

That reminds me, there is a supermarket in Fish Hoek that sells fried calamari. It’s better than most people could make in their own kitchens.

I just love fresh fish from the ocean. Its flavour is so much more delicious than anything that’s been frozen for months in a supermarket fridge.

Talking about fish, a fish shop in Fish Hoek, which has been frying fish since I was a kid, still prepares great hake and snoek.

My dearly beloved cooks magnificent pastas, roast lamb and chicken dishes while we were on holiday.

In the afternoons on a hot summer day, a humble snack of salty biscuits, smoked mussles, cheese and gherkins is tasty and helps to replenish your bodily salts from the heat of the day.

And of course, being in the Cape, you have such a selection of wines. My friends recommended various wines during my stay there, and all were wonderful to drink during the hot summer evenings, chatting to longtime and life-long friends.

In the Kalahari, I have been spoilt with so much delicious mutton while staying on my dearly beloved’s family farm. Lamb chops grilled over a big open fire. Roast lamb. Lamb stew. And even lamb kaaiens for breakfast.

I love eating those delicious lamb chops with a lemon flavour with my hands, hot fat collecting around my mouth.

The most interesting food I’ve tasted in the Kalahari is the wild Kalahari truffles known as n’abbas. They have a delicious flavour.

Another thing I love when I am on a farm is the home-made food. I enjoy the freshly baked, home-made rusks. You just don’t get that taste from anything that you could buy in shops.

A special meal prepared on the farm in Namibia by young ladies learning culinary skills at school.

What about fish, you may ask? The last time I went to the Kalahari, the farmer’s wife had received a gift of galjoen and kabeljou. The fisherman who catches fish up there at Hentiesbaai doesn’t eat fish.

I haven’t eaten galjoen for decades. I grilled it outdoors on an open fire, and everyone loved it. The kabeljou was very good too.

I haven’t spoken about biltong, but that’s one thing that when you’re out in the Kalahari you can get plenty of. And it’s a lot more delicious than the biltong shops offer.

I’m forgetting about the times when people want me to cook. That’s when I bring out my trusty chilli recipe and make sure to cook two — a mild one for the children and a very hot one for the adults, especially the men.

When we were staying on the farm the farmer’s friends came around from neighbouring farms. The visitors made a Kerrie afval Potjie ( skaap pens-en-pootjies). One of the farmers, a friendly chap, jokingly dared me to eat the afval delicacy. I’ve never eaten anything like this, and my stomach churned to think that I would be eating the insides of animal intestines. The afval was served. And it was delicious, but unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.

It’s amazing how difficult it is to eat things you’re not used to. The farmers have an acquired taste for the stuff, but for an old fisherman and a city slicker, it was something else.

I may just add that my dearly beloved did not attempt fate by having any of the dainty Kalahari dish.

I mustn’t forget about the beverages. Beverages are extremely important in the hot Kalahari. Especially when you relax with family and friends. During the day, we drank lemon-flavoured beer and non-alcoholic beer made in Germany. In that type of weather, it just slakes your thirst.

At night, I’d start off with one of the delicious Radler beers made in Namibia. Then on to one of the famous beers that is made in Windhoek. I just find it amazing that the beer from Windhoek tastes so good in the Kalahari climate. If ever a beer was made for climatic conditions, then the beer from Windhoek is just perfect.

These images of food, the sounds of meat grilling in the oven or roasting on an open fire, conjure many happy memories and jolly times. It’s wonderful how food brings people together. How sharing food puts people at ease and leads to easy conversation.

I haven’t mentioned any restaurants. Not because their food is as good. Sometimes a restaurant prepares something that you would never try out at home. I’m just tired of restaurant food.

It all begins to taste the same. A spoonful of butter is used in the cooking to prop up the meal. It’s just that I prefer the simple, delicious food that ordinary folks make.

It’s food that is prepared by people you know. People who care. People who enjoy cooking. People who try out their recipes at home, some recipes handed down through generations, have gotten them right so that they become easier to make and enjoy and are simply delicious.

I’ve briefly touched on two holiday spots where I’ve enjoyed the food in addition to everything else. I’m sure there are many more places where the food is just as good. A holiday shouldn’t, of course, be about the food, but you can’t live on bread alone wherever you are. Good food and good company (and good wine) make for good times.

The dear lady who gave me my appreciation of all sorts of food, my mother Myra. Her recipes from Myra’s Galley are still sought after. With her is her granddaughter Rayne.

“I wish I could draw!”

Charcoal drawing by Chesney Bradshaw

When people see my drawings, they usually say, “I wish I could draw”.

Then I ask them why don’t give it a try. Their answer typically is: “I did art at school but I have never got around to drawing since then. I’d love to draw again.”

Like any new skill, it’s frustrating  at first to learn how to draw, but once you get the hang of it, drawing becomes more enjoyable.

The joy of drawing, I find, is the continual learning and setting yourself new challenges. After drawing for some time I have found that the biggest benefit is the meditative state that you get into when drawing.

You get so involved that you let go of all your troubles and worries and focus solely on your drawing. I call it being in the zone, or being in a Zen-like state of meditation. Often I get so lost in drawing that I don’t notice the time.

The other great joy I get from drawing is that it can lead to other forms of art, such as painting. Drawing is a fundamental skill for any art form. Visual expression is something where you can tell a story with a few pencil strokes or brushstrokes.

The best feeling I have is when I give my drawings or paintings as gifts to family and close friends. 

You can also take your artwork and use it for numerous purposes, such as year-end cards, illustrations for your website or social media pages. 

Your art can decorate various items such as clothing, coffee mugs and table mats, just to name a few uses.

When I teach people how to draw, they are amazed at their progress. What seems difficult, suddenly becomes easier. They then get great joy in showing their drawings to family and friends.

As one esteemed drawing and artistic anatomy teacher said, no book can take the place of study under an accomplished artist. “In drawing and painting there are many things that can only be communicated by turn of your teacher’s pencil or a flourish of his brush,” he said.

Eventually, once you have mastered the basics of drawing, you may find yourself moving onto more challenging projects.

I, for example, have taken up figure drawing, which is a big challenge but keeps me fully occupied and excited about the possibilities. 

I would encourage you to take a step towards your own drawing journey.

Happy drawing and may you have the best of luck in learning how to draw!

Family businesses should employ more family members

Everyone does it. They do it all over the country. And the world. Whether a family business is in a city, suburb, township or informal settlement, they all employ family members.

In fact, before the advent of corporations, many businesses were family owned and they employed their family members.

The beauty of a family business is that you can draw employees from a wide range, including sons and daughters, extended family including nephews and nieces, or aunts and uncles, and even stepfamily members.

In these times when job opportunities are scarce and when certain people have doors shut in their face because of who they are, family businesses are providing job opportunities on a greater scale.

Of course, any family business needs specialist outsiders, and they are happy to employ them when required. Everyone knows it would be stupid to only employ family members.

But not all family members want to go into a family businesses. Some of their sons and daughters have emigrated to start new lives outside of the country.

I know of one successful business where the owner died this year and his son and daughter, who are in the professions, have no interest in running the business. His wife, who is also at an advanced age, has decided to soldier on and keep the business running.

Before you scoff at family businesses, remember that some family businesses that are still running today were started over 100 years ago.

Remember too, that many successful family businesses eventually sell out to reap the rewards of their success. Often, this has been to the giant corporations who have brought the business into their operation and tried to keep that family ethos going. However, many are unsuccessful at this.

One family-owned business that I thought about now was sold to new shareholders and is now listed on the local stock exchange.

This brings me to a very important point. And that is succession in a family business. As I mentioned earlier, if there are no more family members or their offspring to run the business, then it needs to be sold off. I’ve witnessed many smaller family-owned businesses close down and shut up shop because there is no one to continue with the business.

There’s a lot more to family businesses than I’ve covered here, but the point that I wish to make is that in these times, they are very, very important vehicles for job creation.

The family business and its important role in job creation, whether for minorities (local or foreign) or majorities, should be lauded for its achievements.

The joys of being a wanderer

Photo by Felix Wiebe on Unsplash

In the early hours of the morning, you hear the waves pounding on the beach. Later, when the sun rises, you hear the siren of the passenger train as it comes around the corner along the seafront. As you walk onto the beach, you hear the cry of the seagulls.

Getting away from the familiar is a joy. It’s so good to be away from the inland suburban life, where you wake up to the sound of heavy early morning traffic. You get used to it, of course, but hearing the sounds of nature is wonderful.

You won’t find the beach empty no matter what time you wake up in the morning for a run or a walk. These days, it seems that there are so many more people who are health-conscious. Walking on the beach gives them fresh air and exercise.

But it doesn’t matter. You walk through the people. As I walk down the beach, I forget the people and it’s just me, the sand, the shore, the waves breaking on the beach, and the wind against my face.

I enjoy going down to the sea. To experience being part of the seashore and the sea life. I can be left to my own thoughts, clear my head and roll back in time to when I knew this beach as a boy. Then there were hundreds of sandpipers around the dunes. You don’t see them anymore. The dunes are much different. There are fewer dunes and urban pollution has meant that dune rehabilitation is a necessity.

I remember walking with our family dog along the beach when I was very young. He was a great big dog that enjoyed the beach, running into the surf and chewing on seaweed. I could walk on my own with him. He was my protector.

In the summer evenings, when the light still shines until late, I enjoy being with friends, chatting, and watching the sea. 
Darkness comes, and I listen to the sea running in against the shore through the night.

When you’ve grown up by the sea, the sea remains in your blood. You can feel it in your soul. It calls you back. No matter how long you’ve been away from it.

I’ve also kept the sea inside of me and can call it up at will. I lie in bed in the early mornings far away from the sea and, like a moving picture, I scan various parts of the sea that I love so much. I imagine the sound of waves breaking against the rocks and the white foam rushing down back into the water. I can picture those beautiful birds, terns, winging their way south to hunt for food.

There are other places I hold dear. More recent places.

When I cross the border post a short distance from Upington into Namibia, I have a feeling of release and adventure. The first thing I long for is a cold beer at a small cafe a few kilometres after we’ve crossed the border. There you can drink some of the finest beers.

The dry, open land spreads in front of you as you drive northwards. The black rocks of the mountains. The Kameeldoring (Acacia erioloba) trees. The isolation. Passing farms where you see no one, not even livestock.

When you reach your destination, you are so happy to see friends who you haven’t seen for a very long time. Out on the farm in the Kalahari, the people are warm and hospitable. They enjoy seeing you and making sure that you are there to relax and have a good time.

Waking up in the hot Kalahari that only gets hotter as the day progresses. Drinking coffee outside and watching the farm animals, taking in the landscape of Kameeldoring trees growing out of the hot, red sands. After breakfast, at leisure to do what you please.

A walk into the Kalahari veld envelops you with nature. The sound of the hissing and clicking of insects. The wind blows through the tall Kameeldoring trees, their shade so welcome from the burning hot sun.

At night you can see the stars, thousands upon thousands of them, or should I say millions and millions of them. The Milky Way is brighter way out on a country farm where there are no city lights.

The food is good, the company too, and that lovely feeling when you are tired from a long day and all you want is to go and sleep.

But sometimes, even late at night, it’s still so hot that you crave to cool your body down. That’s when you strip and jump into the corrugated iron farm dam and paddle around, looking up into that vast black sky with all those white stars.

Travelling and visiting beautiful places makes you long to stay. I never want to leave. But in the end, you have to pack the car, say goodbye, and take the long road home.

I’m not sure if I could handle a wandering life, but being a wanderer makes life exciting. And it makes you realise many things, including an appreciation of all sorts of places and people. It enriches your life.

You never know when you will be able to return. You never know if it’s your last goodbye. You never know if you will see the places you love again. It’s best, I think, to enjoy them as much as you can while you can.

Pointers you must consider in a personal crisis

You never know when something or someone is going to come at you out of the blue. But what is a crisis? It’s something that challenges you to use all of your thinking and emotional skills. I know, of course, that there are a lot of definitions and it would be a good idea to look them up if you are interested.

Personal crises are becoming more common in this ramshackle economy. People are running out of money. Their health is giving in. Crime is rampant. I was thinking this morning on my run how many things we need to do, steps we need to take, to keep ourselves safe in a country where you can be killed in an instant.

The first thing to recognise is whether the crisis is about you or if you are being led into someone else’s crisis. It’s a big distinction. Some people try to drag you into their mess somehow, believing that you can help save them.

Well, everyone has to take responsibility for their own lives.

Our instinct, well, for many of us, is to help, to give advice, perhaps draw on our resources. But before you do that, think about what is really happening. Is the person all the friends of the person merely trying to give you the bad news story?

In any crisis situation, I believe that we have a few seconds to make instant decisions. In this window of opportunity, we can decide what our course of action should be. But this can be enigmatic. In a crime situation, when your life is threatened, your course of action might be to move swiftly or to slow down. It depends on the situation. Fourteen years later, I’m still trying to figure out how I managed to save my life in a situation where I acted foolishly at first, panicked, and then totally submitted. It was horrifying, but let’s not dwell on the past.

Another pointer is to do the right thing. In extreme haste you might agree with something that is not ethical. Even split second decisions need to take into account ethics. You could, of course, hear the person out and say that you’re going to get back to them. Confronted with this, it can be more diplomatic to point out in a non-direct way that the course of action that is been laid out is not right.

The next point might seem mercenary but remember that your economic survival comes first, and that of your loved ones and dependents. If you rush into providing money all that really happens is that you have a recurring debt without a deadline for its conclusion. Or the situation could involve small amounts at first and then balloon into the large payments. Loaning other people money often means that you become their prisoner.

Personal crises often involve running other people down. Some people even hang their dirty washing in public. For some it may be tempting to get involved but stay out of it. It’s best to safeguard your morals. Your personal dignity and integrity comes first.

There’s nothing wrong with being a supportive family member, relative, friend. But be careful when your support ties you into a situation where someone else’s crisis eventually becomes yours.

There are probably many other traps to avoid. But hopefully, these pointers will remind you and prepare you to handle a crisis from whatever source it comes.

Is a business continuity plan insurance against a disruptive incident?

We often get asked the question whether business continuity planning is mandatory. Another question is whether business continuity planning is insurance against loss. Yet another is whether you need a business continuity plan if you have insurance against loss.

Here are some brief thoughts on the subject:

Insurance against loss is a contract with an insurance company in the event of business disruption and damage. 

A business plan is a mitigation measure against a disruptive incident, property and plant loss, and reputational damage.

But insurance can only go so far. The more you want to cover, the more expensive insurance becomes. 

Imagine this: You drive in your car without a seatbelt. You may have insurance for your vehicle, personal accident insurance, and medical insurance. What happens if you have an accident? Surely you could’ve taken precautions by driving with a seatbelt? 

In a way, business continuity planning is like a seatbelt. Basically, business continuity plans help your company to prevent unnecessary losses. Most importantly, your business continuity plan helps your business recover faster after a disruptive incident.

It’s interesting that seat belts in vehicles became mandatory after many deaths resulting from motor vehicle accidents. However, seat belts have been proven to be a life-saving device.

Business continuity is not mandatory in most instances, except for certain organisations. Regulations in some countries require business continuity plans in industries such as finance and healthcare, and in those organisations that manage national critical infrastructure (e.g., the energy sector).

But having a business continuity plan can reduce your cost of insurance and win new valuable business when customers require that your business has one.

So, while business continuity planning is not a legal obligation, it does set a company apart as a proactive and responsible business that takes into account the interests of all its stakeholders.