First Steps Women’s Centre

As part of the Patient and Client Councils Make Change Together initiative ,they have now released an opportunity for the public to help shape thinking in the Department of Health’s Review of Urgent and Emergency Care. They are targeted workshops for older people, those living with mental health issues, children and young people and their carers and advocates.  Click on the picture below.

Make Change Together

Palliative Care Week 2018 begins on Sunday 9th September and in our blog this week, Brendan O’Hara from the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care explains why it is so important to raise people’s awareness and understanding of palliative care.

This Sunday marks the beginning of Palliative Care Week; an annual campaign facilitated by All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care which runs this year from 9 to 15 September. 

This time around our theme is ‘Palliative Care, Because Every Moment Matters’.

Palliative care focuses on helping a person, of any age, with a life-limiting illness, to achieve the best quality of life. It involves the management of pain and other symptoms and provides support for social, emotional and spiritual needs.

While it has been widely reported that waiting times continue to grow, there has been little focus on the lived experiences of people who are waiting for sometimes urgent and life-saving care.  This week saw the launch of “Our lived experience of waiting for healthcare – People in Northern Ireland share their story”. Chief Executive, Maeve Hully explains more. 

Waiting for healthcare is a frustrating and worrying experience.  People do not know how long they will wait. Deteriorating physical and mental health, worsening pain, loss of income and social isolation are just some of the issues that people are struggling to cope with as they wait for care.

I remember laughing when doctors first shared their concern that I was suffering from anorexia. Were they stupid? Anorexics were those people who were skin and bone, those who had the will power to last days without food.

I wasn’t strong enough to be like them or at least, that’s what she told me. I was weak because I had to eat half a banana to stop my tummy rumbling while sitting a GCSE exam. Long story short, it was now three years since I lost my dad. I was due to receive exam results in one week’s time, and I was admitted to Beechcroft Hospital in Belfast. That was my home for the next six months and so I had to take a year out from school.

Paula Bradley MLA was diagnosed with cancer when she was just 24 and admits she knew nothing about the disease. It was only much later that she realised how serious the condition can be. As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (22-28 January) Paula joined forces with Cancer Focus NI to urge women to be vigilant and get regular smear tests.

“I went to my GP with really debilitating, severe back pain that had been bothering me for a couple of months. I was separated from my husband, and was working and looking after the children, so it was full on.

Baby Loss Awareness Week runs from 9-15 October. Last year, we featured a blog entitled I Am One in Four by Alison Carr. That’s because one in every four pregnancies in the UK end in miscarriage. Alison suffered not just one miscarriage. In total, she had five!

Having three or more miscarriages is termed recurrent miscarriage and affects one in every 100 pregnancies. In her blog, Alison spoke movingly about her ‘grief, fear, pain, jealously, self-recrimination and self-loathing’ which grew with every miscarriage, and of the lack of specialist bereavement counselling to help her come to terms with her losses.

She also talked about the lack of specialist care for women in Northern Ireland who experience recurrent miscarriage, and having to make multiple trips to London to attend a specialist clinic. Alison is one of the lucky ones. Some women are never offered referrals to specialist clinics. Alison got the diagnosis and treatment she needed and, today, she is the proud mother of two girls.

There are currently around 657,000 people from Northern Ireland on the NHS Organ Donation Register, that’s around 36% of the total population.

5th September 2016, sees the start of Organ Donation Week, a time when the organ donation and transplant community raise awareness of organ donation.

There are many cultural and religious reasons why people would choose to donate their organs or not. It is and should remain a decision based on individual values and beliefs.

While it’s a personal choice, and regardless of the outcome of the decision, its important family and friends are aware of a person’s wishes. We know there is a willingness to discuss dying and related issues, because people openly share their views and experiences with us when we meet them in community halls, shopping centres, cafes and other places across Northern Ireland.

People have told us that information on practical issues such as writing a will, making funeral arrangements, advice on insurance,

With more than 86,000 people in Northern Ireland living with Diabetes, we’ve been gathering patients’ views on the condition and their hopes for services in the future. Deepak Samson explains more.


‘Setting the record straight’ is the theme for Diabetes Awareness Week and that’s exactly what we’ve been helping people to do.

Over the past few months we’ve been talking to diabetic patients to understand what’s working well for them and how they feel services could be improved.

Patients really value the care they receive from staff, and acknowledge the pressure they are often under.

We’re living longer, which is something to celebrate, however, living longer, can bring more health complications.

This week is Dementia Awareness Week, and a lot has been happening to raise awareness of this condition.

Dementia mostly affects people over the age of 70 and is uncommon in people under the age of 60 but it can appear, though rarely, in people in their 40s or younger.  At the Balmoral Show last week, we heard from many hundreds of people who highlighted ‘care of the elderly’ as something they’d like our decision makers to focus on.

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