Friday, 23 May 2014

Dementia Friend

Dementia has been pushed to the forefront of peoples attention this year.  Sponsorship by supermarkets, TV and Internet campaigns or local initiatives all help drive up awareness.

I decided to do my own bit on behalf of Social Care Alba for the month of May.  Here is how I got on.

Week 1

I was contacted by the Intensive Care Unit of Manchester Royal Infirmary. They wanted to help people who had communication problems following surgery, often because they have tubes to help their breathing inserted into their throats.

We supplied our Communication Tool app free of charge to the hospital and it is now in use across ICU and is being introduced to other wards where communication problems exist due to stroke, dementia or multiple sclerosis.

Finally I was able to put them in touch with Clairmont a company we formed links with several years ago.  Clairmont provide signs, clocks and other products that help people with Dementia identify their surroundings, time and place more easily.  Lets hope this small change makes a real difference to peoples lives.

Week 2
Nataly and I attended "Help Make Edinburgh Dementia Friendly".  The idea of the day was to look at all the ways we could improve the city to make it more Dementia Friendly.  The day was facilitated by Edinburgh City Council and Alzheimer Scotland.

It soon became obvious that we all felt that a more appropriate term should be Accessible Edinburgh or Enabling Edinburgh.  This reduced the stigma of identifying one condition and looked to address the common problems across the city.
There were too many different ideas to list, however here are some of the highlights:

  • Raising awareness across businesses and the public
  • Raising knowledge amongst health care staff
  • Specific signage across the city e.g. Toilets, Buses, Banks
  • Seating and improved access across the city
  • Quiet areas in parks, sensory gardens
  • Local Dementia Officer to give Advice and Support 
  • Website giving activities, areas of support and Accessible shops and businesses
  • Dementia friendly church services films and theater productions
  • Dementia Friendly recognition scheme or business

Week 3
People with dementia don’t just lose their memories; they can also lose their friends. This is because people with dementia can start to behave differently. And sometimes those friends might not understand or know how to react.

However, it is possible to live well with dementia, especially with the support of friends. No matter how big, or how small, every action counts.
That’s because people with dementia need friends more than ever.
That’s why Public Health England and the Alzheimer's Society are running their Dementia Friends campaign on TV this month.  They aim to create one million Dementia Friends, who will help people with dementia to live well for longer.
Anybody can become a friend. It’s as simple as just understanding a bit more about dementia. They will give you helpful tips and small ideas to help you support the people you know with dementia and their carers.  I have signed up, so why not visit their website to find out more.

Week 4
Yet to come is a Promoting Excellence conference held by Dumfries and Galloway and the Care Inspectorate. The conference aim to hep people feel more informed and confident in taking part in Promoting Excellence locally. 

It will include talks from Dumfries and Galloway's Dementia Nurse Consultant and local Dementia Champions based in social service settings.

I hope to bring back ideas to Social Care Alba that we can champion in the year ahead.

I hope you found the Blog useful and it has encouraged you to learn more about Dementia.  If we all make just one small change then together we can make a huge difference to the lives of others.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Act FAST and Reduce Your Salt Intake

May is Action on Stroke month. Every  year there are approximately 152,000 strokes in the UK. That's one stroke every five minutes, and stroke is the third single largest cause of death, accounting for approximately one in ten deaths.
In the news this week has been the importance of recognising TIA (transient ischaemic attack) or mini-stroke. TIA causes similar symptoms to a stroke, such as speech problems, but may last only a few minutes. A survey of TIA patients found more than one in three had dismissed their symptoms as just a “funny turn”. Yet one in 20 people will have a major stroke within two days of a TIA and this figure rises to one in 12 within a week of a TIA.

Diet and stroke

So perhaps it is a good time to remind people of the importance of diet in reducing the risk of stroke, and to look at one of the main dietary factors associated with stroke – levels of salt consumption. A reduction in salt intake lowers blood pressure both in individuals with raised blood pressure and in those with normal blood pressure. The fall in blood pressure is shown across ethnicities, men and women. This in turn may reduce the risk of other cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart disease.

Reducing salt may reduce risk of stroke

A recent report in the medical journal BMJ Open suggested that the 15% drop in average daily consumption of salt in England between 2003 and 2011 played a role in the decrease in the number of deaths from stroke over the same time period. The researchers commented that as well as change in salt intake and reduced blood pressure, the decrease in fatalities could be influenced by several other factors such as decrease in total cholesterol and the number of people who smoke, and the increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. It could also be influenced by improvements in medical care and treatment of blood pressure, cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
Overall then the changes could be the result of a complex mixture of various health and lifestyle changes in people over this time. Nevertheless, the report lends support to current health recommendations to keep salt intake to no more than 6g per day for adults (around one teaspoon) to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

Salt in the Diet

Dietary surveys show that currently the main contributors to salt intake in the older population are white bread (10%), bacon and ham (8%), soup (5%), cheese (5%) and wholemeal bread (5%). Some foods may be high in salt because of the way they are made, others contribute because we may eat a lot of them. Reduction of salt is part of a lifestyle changes for stroke reduction but controlling weight, regular physical activity and avoiding smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol are also important.


And don’t forget to act FAST to recognise the symptoms of stroke: fallen Face, inability to hold Arms high, slurred Speech; and to know the importance of Time — to seek immediate medical attention.