First Steps Women’s Centre

Dr Daniel Maughan is a consultant psychiatrist working for the Early Intervention Service at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. He is also the Associate Registrar for Sustainability at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, where he heads up a programme of work looking to improve the sustainability of mental health services. He has published widely on the impacts of climate change on mental health, as well as how to best estimate the carbon footprint of health care.

I am the RCPsych Associate Registrar for Sustainability. Most of you will scratch your heads thinking, ‘What on earth does one of them do?’ The answer to this question can be as long as you like but, in its shortest form, is: I try to reduce the environmental impacts of mental health care. 

What a bizarre thing to do, I hear you say. Why not get an estates person who deals with electricity and gas supplies to do that?

In May this year, the Public Health Agency, in partnership with the Regional General Hospital Forum for Learning Disabilities, Health and Social Care Trusts, people with a learning disability and their carers, launched a Hospital Passport for people with a learning disability. It’s designed to enable the patient to be independent and as involved as possible in any decisions about their care while in hospital. Gerard McWilliams visited two hospitals to see how the passport is being received by staff.

The Hospital Passport is a booklet in an easy-read format and only takes about 10 minutes to complete. I’d normally ask my support worker to help me, but on this occasion I got a work colleague to assist.

As part of Palliative Care Week 2017 we have published our End of Life Care report, which outlines some key issues in relation to end of life care experiences. Care at the end of life is a significant and important element of all care and the evidence in this report describes how the care received at this time can have a significant impact on patients and their families.

There were three areas highlighted in our report that service users felt needed addressing: communication, coordination of care between healthcare staff, patients and their families, and training for staff who are providing end of life care.

These were the reported issues for end of life care for both unexpected deaths and patients who were terminally ill. These global issues are not new and a lot of work has already been completed to find sustainable solutions to these issues.

There are important messages for service providers, commissioners and policy makers that will be presented for discussion and agreement in the context of future planning of end of life.

Amy Speers is 32 years old and lives in Bangor. For the past seven years, she has been having non-epileptic seizures, which can be difficult to diagnose and sometimes confused with epilepsy. Amy has since created a Facebook page and has written blogs to raise awareness of the condition.

For the past six or seven years, I have been having non-epileptic seizures (NES). These are different to epileptic seizures, which are caused by disrupted electrical activity in the brain.

Lindsay Robinson

Early last year, I shared my story of postnatal depression and my two-year battle with illness on this website. I was just at the start of my journey of recovery and was writing a personal blog. 

I was five months into treatment - antidepressants, mental health team support, talking therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). I found it hard, some days, to believe that I really could get better, but I was trying hard to hold onto hope. 

One year on, things are very different. While my recovery is ongoing, I know that it is possible to get better. I am so thankful that life is now to be enjoyed rather than endured. I'm ready to thrive not just survive. 

"In Northern Ireland, approximately 180 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year, and 120 women lose their lives each year. When a woman is diagnosed at the earliest stage, her chance of surviving ovarian cancer for five years of more doubles from just 46 per cent to more than 90 per cent, and knowing the symptoms of ovarian cancer can save lives.

The challenge is a chance to spread a very important message: knowing the symptoms of ovarian cancer can save lives. In NI we do not have  a dedicated support network for those effected by the disease.

The second of AWARE volunteer Cliona McCarney’s two-part blog on her battle with depression. Last week, Cliona realised that the weight of the world on her shoulders was literally killing her.

It took every bit of strength that I possessed to convince myself that it would be a bad thing for that to happen.

That sounds melodramatic, and maybe it is, but that was the point I’d gotten to. I went to my GP and, for the first time, I faced up to the true extent of the problems I was having.

It took me several attempts to make an appointment. I waited in the call queue for what felt like hours and then hung up in fright when I heard a voice.

Cliona McCarney is a volunteer with AWARE – the national depression charity for Northern Ireland. In a two-part blog, she speaks candidly about her descent into depression.

Work? A headache? Cramps? Babysitting again? Which excuse hadn’t I used for a while? I’d used all of them, and more, a lot recently.

I was tangled up in a web of my own lies as I struggled to come up with yet another excuse for why I couldn’t meet a friend for a coffee. Depression. The darkest, most terrifying time of my life.

The truth is that I couldn’t bring myself to face anyone - I could hardly face myself in the mirror.

Before I retired, I worked as a mental health nurse teacher with a special interest in older people. I taught in the classroom and in care settings.

Since retirement, I have been involved in research, as well as volunteering to support older people in all aspects of their wellbeing.

One person in every 500 will develop Parkinson’s – mostly those aged over 50. It is a disease of the nervous system that progressively affects muscular control, invariably to the detriment of verbal and non-verbal communication.

All this week, the media has been giving special coverage on the experiences of disabled people in the workforce and as consumers. One interviewee said employers were “missing a trick” because people with a learning disability or any disability are resilient, flexible and good at problem-solving because they have had to be. This is what Gerard from the PCC has to say on this.

I'll never forget the day when I was 19, I was told at the end of a workplace training programme to forget about a career in health and social care.  I wasn't capable of this type of work.

Instead I was advised to consider cleaning jobs or stacking supermarket shelves. Why? Because I have a learning disability.

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