For many of us, we only know and appreciate a healthcare service when we, or a loved one, needs to use it.
But in Tameside, there are dozens of services that exist to help us to live well in various ways – from staying active and preventing falls to managing our prescriptions and mental health.
All of which were on hand to explain more about their services at the Living Well Ageing Well event at St Andrews House Centre in Stalybridge on 12 July 2022, hosted by the Primary Care Network (PCN) for Stalybridge, Dukinfield and Mossley.
Tameside reporter, Bob Alston, attended the event to shed more light on what support is available for local residents. It was also an opportunity for the attending agencies to do a little networking and a catch up since being extremely busy during the past two years. Oh, and there was cake!
There were 12 support agencies in attendance covering all aspects of healthcare with expert medical and social experts on hand to offer impartial advice to those who visited this free walk-in event from 1pm – 4pm.
It was interesting for me to talk to representatives from each agency and to learn the diverse range of areas that they cover. Also, it became apparent that they do not operate independently of each other, but very closely for the benefit of their clients, so that they offer the very best care possible.
Event organiser, PCN Lead Nurse, Reanne White, said: “This is the second Living Well Ageing Well event we have organised and we want to keep doing them if we can, as we believe it’s the best way to let people know what is available for them in their own area.
“These events offer opportunities for people to connect with the different services and explore what else is on offer for them.
“Our Complex Care Team provides care for older people and promotes independence whilst reconnecting them to the local community.
“This particular event has been funded by the Primary Care Network and we hope to have this as an annual event for it to get bigger each year.”
Everyone I spoke to echoed the views of Reanne and it was obvious that they saw the benefit of offering this type of event throughout the borough.
The Complex Care Team representative, nurse Jennifer Crozier said: “We’ve supported people to live well for longer, promote independence and provide person directed care.”
Alison Carrington, an Advanced PCN Pharmacist, told me: “As we get older we may end up taking or using more medicines. This can be a worry for some and it’s important that if patients or their relatives have any concerns that they talk to their PCN Pharmacist for help and advice.”
What was plain to see from attending such an event for the first time was the amount of material that is produced to help people have a better understanding of the different conditions that we could all experience as we grow older, so that we can make well-informed decisions about our help including preventative therapies.
I caught up with, literally, a representative from Live Active, Callan Fletcher, and he told me a little about where his service fits in: “Live Active aims to improve health and wellbeing by helping you become more physically active. This is achieved through a personalised prescribed exercise pathway for people with long term health conditions or those who are currently inactive.”
Over a drink and a slice of the lovely cake previously mentioned, I got chatting to Brenda Gutu who is a Senior Mental Wellbeing Practitioner for Minds Matter, and having more than a passing interest in mental health I wanted to hear what she had to say on the subject. She told me: “It is vital for mental health services to be visible in the community making it easy for patients to access support.
“We are moving away from asking people to come to us to get help, and instead we will come to them in their local community! Community engagement is the way forward in promoting mental wellbeing.”
I couldn’t agree more Brenda; it would have certainly helped in my case.
As we get older, falls prevention becomes more important as our joints and bones are less absorbent to shock, so it was good to speak with specialists in this area, physiotherapist Claire Hogg and occupational therapist Susan Close.
They told me: “We both work closely with each other and an event like this gives us the opportunity to let patients know what we can offer and how to refer to our service. We offer home-based assessment and treatment for patients who are unable to attend a clinic due to physical or mental health issues” – demonstrating again how healthcare is changing to a ‘we’ll come to you’ client-centred approach.
Another service I wanted to look at was that of ‘home response systems’ – of which I had a brief encounter with when my father was housebound. Living a few miles away, I couldn’t always get there immediately if he needed assistance and having the security of knowing that he would have someone to contact should he need help, especially during night, was a blessing and meant that I could settle mentally knowing he would be cared for if I wasn’t around.
On the Community Response Service (CRS) stand I met Karen Lyons who told me: “The Tameside CRS is a 24 hour, 365 days-a-year, emergency response for anyone over the age of 18 who live in the borough. We provide different devices to suit the needs and health of the person, and offer support to carers too.
“We have a tablet device where we have access to apps including Skype to contact the local hospital directly if the patient needs there help, and we also carry an ‘ELK Lifting Cushion’ that can be used to assist people off the floor, without adding to any injury should they have fallen and can’t pull themselves up. The CRS gives support and independence to people to live in their own homes safely.”
As I was roaming around the event asking people about their service and why they thought events like this are important I saw a wall that was covered in thought provoking words that we have all come across, particularly recently, including Diet, Finance, Safety, Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, Free Activity, Paid Activity, and Signposting Communication, but it wasn’t obvious at first why this was there, so I asked the nearest person to it who was Steve Morton, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities – on behalf of Tameside Public Health, (phew, what a title to carry around Steve!).
I asked him to explain what all this meant, but little did I know that I would become his first guinea pig for the exercise and, in exchange for giving me a quote about why he was there, I would have to comment of the various wall-mounted pointers, so I sat down and did what he asked in true MyGen style.
When I’d finished, Steve duly stuck to the deal and explained why he was there: “We are carrying out work to capture lived experience and personal thoughts about what it’s like to age in Tameside and what ageing well looks like. Also, what can people do to help themselves, what barriers are there to ageing well, and what can the council and NHS do better.
“I want to get people to look at how they plan for retirement and what impact being a carer would have should this happen. All the information gathered will then help contribute to an Ageing Well Health Needs Assessment towards the end of the year.”
Finally, I left the best ‘till last (my biased opinion only), as this was an agency I also volunteer for, Digital Health, and although I could write in depth about what they offer, I wanted Emma Delany, Digital Health Lead, to explain it in her own words.
Emma said: “In recent years, the health service has moved to a much more digital way of working, and this can be confusing, frustrating and daunting if you are unsure how to navigate this. That’s where we can help!
“The Digital Healthcare Support Service (DHSS) is part of Tameside and Glossop’s Digital Wellbeing Programme – we aim to help people to access GP online services and health apps, in order to be able to manage their health and wellbeing more easily and independently.
“We currently have regular volunteer-led digital health workshops running in Glossop, Hyde and Dukinfield, but can work with people across any area of Tameside and Glossop! This could be in community settings, GP surgeries or at your home if needed.”
I must admit that I wasn’t fully aware of all the different services that are available in my area, but I suppose that is the case for most people and you only know and appreciate a healthcare service when you have the need to use it.
For me, what needs to happen now is that all the different agencies need to become ‘fully’ integrated and share notes/reports with each other, so that the service user doesn’t have to keep repeating why they have presented themselves there that day. As a person who suffers from mental health I have found it extremely traumatic having to constantly recall the episodes in my life that has caused my anxiety and depression each time I get referred for a different kind of treatment offered by a different specialist!
If you are interested in any of the services mentioned in this article plus a couple of others, please use the relevant contact details below and it would be great if you would mention where you found out about it.
Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust
Fountain St, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 9RW
0161 922 6000
0161 366 4860
Minds Matter Tameside and Glossop
216-218 Katherine St, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 7AS
0161 470 6100
Tameside Community Response Service
0161 342 5100
Tameside and Glossop Macmillan Information and Support Service
0161 922 5640
Primary Care Network Team
Lockside Medical Centre
85 Huddersfield Road, Stalybridge SK15 2PT
0161 303 7200
Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care Chaplaincy
0161 922 5333
0161 339 2345
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