The overall aim of our Wellbeing work is to improve the physical and mental health of women and provide opportunities which will enable them to achieve their full potential.
First Steps Women's Centre (FSWC) has a holistic approach to women’s education and personal development. We strive to anticipate the barriers women may face when they return to education and help them overcome these, for example, providing Childcare and Transport.
The role of the Wellbeing Co-ordinator was created as there was recognition within FSWC that women needed support and education in relation to their health and wellbeing.
Women can face many changes and demands on their health throughout the course of their lives, such as motherhood, menopause, bereavement, divorce, changes in financial circumstances, caring for a family member etc. A number of women who attended our courses were living with long term medical conditions or mental ill health (some just newly diagnosed). The relaxed comfortable and supportive environment here enables women to confide in Staff about issues which have impacted on their lives. This can include the loss of confidence and self esteem. There were also a number of women who visited FSWC who didn’t feel quite ready to undertake a qualification but wanted to enroll in a short course. Many of these women now start with a Health Promotion course to build up their confidence and then progress on to an accredited course.
It is important to note that many women undertake these courses for enjoyment and the opportunity to get out and meet other women and socialise.
FSWC new Wellbeing Co-ordinator Amanda Boyd has held this post since August 2015. Amanda is qualified in Reiki / Seichim, The Art of Feminine Presence courses / workshops, Coaching and Yoga / Relaxation.
Amanda says "For my personal interest and so I can bring the very best to our participants, I continue to be a student of leadership and personal and spiritual growth learning the most up to date techniques, strategies and systems that simply work. As I apply these strategies and tools , I am passionate about sharing them with others so they too can overcome the same challenges and fears I have experienced and help make a bigger impact in their lives"
Amanda's work is funded through ESF/DFE and The Arts Council.
Guest blogger, Tom Hunter lives in Islandmagee. In 2008 Tom was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). Tom shares his MS journey and explains why getting information and support is so important.
‘When I was diagnosed with MS it was a shock. Looking back I’d probably been living with common MS symptoms - such as pain, fatigue and blurred vision for years - but I never expected a diagnosis of MS. I was always tired. But I was working as a broker in London and I just put it down to working in a fast paced job and tried to carry on as normal.
I decided to take a break and move home to Northern Ireland for a less stressful life but my symptoms continued. I had terrible double vision and kept falling over. Like many men, I wasn’t the best at keeping regular check-ups with my GP but as soon as he saw me, I was sent straight to the Neurology Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital. I was poked, prodded, scanned and reviewed and then the Doctor said “Mr Hunter you have multiple sclerosis”.
I didn’t know anything about MS then but thanks to the fantastic MS nurses, Consultants and the MS Society I’ve come to understand my condition better. MS affects more than 4000 people in Northern Ireland and like me, every one of them lives with the uncertainty of life with MS. MS attacks at random and it can be cruel. One day I can feel fine, but the next I could lose my sight or be unable to walk.
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Since the Health Secretary in England, Jeremy Hunt said he is prepared to remove ‘opt-out’ from weekend working for newly qualified hospital doctors, there has been a lot of public discussions on hospital cover at weekends. Patients and professionals alike, have a lot to say on this issue.
The announcement has also sparked debate here within our own Health and Social Care service. People in Northern Ireland would welcome 7 day working for hospital consultants. Patients want access to the same level of care whether that’s 9am on a Tuesday or lunchtime on Saturday.
There are several advantages to this way of working. Patients could receive direct consultant input at all times. Care would not be reduced at weekends or out of hours, and in addition trainee doctors would be under close consultant supervision at all times. The current situation can led to delays in decisions about care including discharge and admission which results in waiting times increasing elsewhere in the system.
Nurses and other Allied Health professionals currently provide around the clock cover and many hospital consultants who have adopted 24 hour working find there are many advantages including greater job satisfaction.
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You might have heard in the news this week, waiting times for treatment and care continue to rise, but can anything be done to change this?
A number of years back we had very lengthy waiting times for specialities such as Orthopaedics and considerable work was done to reduce these. However, the situation is rapidly deteriorating.
On a daily basis people call the Patient and Client Council looking for help to establish where they are on the waiting list. The Health and Social Care Board publishes statistics regularly which demonstrate the performance against targets is worsening. We have been raising the issues on waiting times with the Health and Social Care Board and the Health and Social Care Trusts, yet it is difficult to find a solution.
Behind every statistic is an individual, and family whose lives are affected by having to wait. It is hard to hear the very real stories patients are sharing about the health, emotional and economic impacts of waiting.
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Allow me to introduce myself… My name is Chloe McMahon and I am a second year Health and Social Care Policy student at Ulster University. During the course of the next four weeks I will be completing placement with the Patient and Client Council. In this time, I am fortunate enough to be acting as a guest blogger on the Patient and Client Council’s blog, which I hope you will enjoy.
Dementia is something which affects many families in Northern Ireland and we only have to look at people’s experiences to see that. Last summer I worked as a care assistant, where I cared for dementia patients on a daily basis. Arriving on my first day of on-job training, with no experience of dementia of any kind, I had all sorts of expectations in my mind (plenty of knitting, episodes of Deal or No Deal on loop, being referred to as ‘dear’ and ‘lovie’, and lots and lots of Werther’s Originals). Instead, the reality of dementia hit me like a freight train. My first encounter with dementia saw me using the excuse, “I’m just popping to the loo to wash my hands” and secretly using the privacy to cry my eyes out. As I grew close to all the patients, I gradually accepted the quirks that came with their condition and no longer became upset.
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For some people, self-service screens are a handy way to check in at airports, for others it’s an easy way to update library books. Have you used a self-service screen to check in at your local GP surgery or hospital outpatients department? Did you find it easy to use?
Some people like using these check in screens, but others prefer a personal interaction and would rather check in with staff when they arrive for appointments.
Often people are already feeling worried about their appointment, so having to use these screens can add to their anxiety. There is also a fear among patients that if they don't use the screens correctly, they could be forgotten about as people will not know they are waiting.
Eventually using these screens will become easier for people just like booking a flight or online banking. Others, including people who are frail, vulnerable and visually impaired, might still prefer to speak to someone, who can welcome them and answer any questions. Technology cannot replace an often much-needed conversation between patients and staff. See comments...
Courtesy of Client & Patient Council
Long waits in A and E aren’t something any of us want to experience, but unfortunately we know many people do.
We are working with the Health and Social Care system to make sure patients’ voices are acted on, to improve experiences for everyone who attends A and E. One of the discussions we are having is about information for people to help them make decisions about care when they need it.
Hospitals in England publish information on waiting times in Emergency Departments on their websites, so its available to everyone and people can know wait times before they go.
This type of information is not currently available in Northern Ireland.
Do you think it would be useful?
What other information about Emergency Departments would be helpful?
Maybe how long you might have to wait for an ambulance?
Please let me know what you think so we can include your ideas in this work - You can view comments or add yours here
Read more about this work
Courtesy of Client & Patient Council
New PHA cancer awareness campaign
The PHA has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of cancer signs and symptoms, and to encourage anyone who experiences any of these to contact their GP.
At least one in three of us will get cancer, and with an increasing number of cases each year in Northern Ireland, the campaign is very timely. The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the easier it can be to treat, so the ‘Be Cancer Aware’ campaign highlights how important it is to know what to look out for and to get yourself checked if you notice anything which could point towards cancer.
Health Minister Jim Wells joined PHA at the launch event at the Grove Health and Wellbeing Centre, which was attended by a broad range of representatives from cancer charities, as well as cancer survivors.
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Scientists have proposed a new idea for detecting brain conditions including Alzheimer's - a skin test.
Their work, which is at an early stage, found the same abnormal proteins that accumulate in the brain in such disorders can also be found in skin.
Early diagnosis is key to preventing the loss of brain tissue in dementia, which can go undetected for years.
But experts said even more advanced tests, including ones of spinal fluid, were still not ready for clinic.
If they were, then doctors could treatment at the earliest stages, before irreversible brain damage or mental decline has taken place.
Courtesy of BBC News
This week we heard about a consultation which includes the idea of re-introducing prescription charges.
You might remember a few years back, in 2010 the Health Minister at the time, Michael McGimpsey, MLA abolished charging for prescription. Now, the Minister for Health, Jim Wells, is asking people about paying for prescriptions. The Minister told the Assembly, that charges would help finance a Specialist Medicines Fund, which patients could apply for specific drugs.
A few years ago, people told us that while they didn’t mind paying a small charge, they wanted vulnerable people to be protected. People felt the economic and social situation of patients and clients in Northern Ireland need to be taken into account; for example medication for pensioners, children and people on low incomes should remain free.
Do you think we should be charged for prescriptions? Would you pay?
To view or add your comments, click here
Information courtesy of Patient and Client Council
Current discussions about health and social care have been asking if patients expectations are too high.
People tell us that they expect to receive the right care, at the right time and in the right place. People expect that their services will be as safe as possible and there will be honest dialogue with them when things go wrong.
People also expect that they will be involved in discussions around the services that they are receiving particularly where changes are planned to these services.
Better communication with patients and the public would help to ensure that service providers understand better what the expectations of people are which would lead to a more responsive health and social care service.
To read or add your comments, click here