After the heat of the summer, it’s often good to reset and (dare we say look forward) to the glorious colour that autumn brings. Simple pleasures like walking through woods as the leaves drop may sound a bit mushy, but it’s the sensory stuff that is, in fact, a type of meditation.
In this issue we meet Ray, the 66 year old who is well and truly into his groove and leading dance sessions for all.
We hear from another entertainer, Grace Pennington who is taking her brand of yoga and meditation to communities who migh tnot otherwise get the chance to feel the benefits.
Even health conditions can’t stop the most determined – with a little help of course. Colette is in heart failure but thanks to a ‘virtual ward’ programme and some special nurses and doctors, her days are no longerconsumed by hospital appointments – instead she’s making a model village!
Everyone is learning together and it’s making a difference.
When the symptoms of COVID carry on – or new ones come – how do you cope? A team of specialists in Sefton is offering a dedicated support service to people withwhat patients themselves have termed ‘Long COVID’. Everyone is learning together and it’s making a difference.
As part of our Black History Month celebrations physiotherapist and NHS senior leader Steve Addingadoo talks frankly to Rachel Robinson about how we can all be more kind to each other. Steve’s is a good message as we move intoa period of uncertainty.
Let’s support eachother in any way we can.
The MC Magazine Team.
Steve Addingadoo wants Black History Month 2022 to change hearts and minds forever.
Gently spoken and humble, Steve says it’s important to celebrate the contribution made by black people in the past and now – but we should step up and stamp out racism all year round.
“Black History Month is a great opportunity to celebrate everything our black colleagues, as the minority, provide in all aspects of society. But we can challenge racism in our daily lives.
“Don’t assume or stereotype. Treat someone as if they were a new neighbour. Go and meet them, find out a bit about them, ask them where they’re from, learn about their culture. Then support them if they need it.”
Steve, 35, is a senior leader within Mersey Care’s mental health service. He describes himself as mixed race. “My dad is from Mauritius; my mum’s Welsh and I was born in Burnley – it’s aproper mix” he says.
“Since I joined the NHS as a nursing assistant in 2007, I’ve always practiced what I preached. Now, as a senior leader, I feel I can have a greater influence than I’ve ever had, but we need action from whole organisations, not just in pockets from individuals.
He often feels obliged to explain his ethnicity as justification for challenging someone’s views. “I get the feeling they’re thinking ‘you’re not black, what’s it got to do with you’? I want to say, ‘look at my name!”
Steve’s hope has always been for agreater, more honest acknowledgement within workplaces of the challenges being faced by colleagues from ethnic minorities.
So has anything changed at Mersey Care since last Black History month?
“We’ve seen frank and honest conversations and forums among the board, executives and staff, and the creation of the Anti Racism Perfect Care goal. Things have shifted in the right direction, but now the challenge is to set up more systems and processes that are sensitive to when people are not being supported.
“I’d love to see a higher percentage of colleagues from ethnic monitories at alll evels and parity with white colleagues. That alone would bring greater understanding of how anti racism can be upheld.”
Steve has encountered racism throughout his life and says the impact of childhood racist abuse can come back to haunt as an adult in the workplace.
"I’d get into fights over racis tabuse at primary school. When I was in my final year my older brother became a teacher. He changed his name from Addingadoo to Addington because he thought it would be easier for teaching.
“My mum and dad decided to change myname when I went to high school, but when everyone from your primary school knows, word gets round, and the abuse carried on.
“I changed my name back when I got married, but now, when someone makes fun of my name, or my kids tell me of similar experiences, it takes me right back to that playground and it reminds me – racism is still here.”
“I’ve made it my duty to make a stamp on what I think should be happening –that’s how I’ve always rolled, and I still do now. If we accept that racial abuse happens – even what may seem the smallest of comments – it can become the ‘norm’ to think the person is being over sensitive. When I talk to my colleagues they say, ‘it’s still not ok’. That shouldn’t be happening.
“It’s not enough to be not racist. We need to start being anti racist, to learn to identify and talk openly about it without feeling uncomfortable, to feel able to challenge and act when we see and hear things.
“If it doesn’t sit right say something, do something, don’t just let it happen. Take someone aside and say ‘do you know how that feels? Would you have said it to a white person?
If you identify racism, have the courage to talk about it and challenge it, that’s you being anti racist.
“Until we stop thinking ‘it’s not my issue to raise’ we won’t change hearts and minds.
It’s within your gift to be anti racist. Let’s do it now.
”How will we know when society has done enough? Steve smiles.
“I’d say it will only be enough when we’re not talking about it anymore.”
Want to know more? Visit Black History Month.
If you have a preconceived idea about what yoga looks like, it might be a good idea to read on. MC magazine’s Sophie Brown met Grace Pennington, the 33 year old changing the way we thinkabout yoga – and discovered that all you need to meditate is a quiet space and some plants!
As a cruise entertainment officer Grace Pennington’s lifestyle was one of long hectic days and evenings spent in the crew bar, as that was the only place to socialise.
Underneath what seemed to be a fun existence, Grace developed anxiety. After she began having panic attacks her brother suggested apps he’d used for meditation.
The impact was massive and immediate. Grace recalls sitting on the back of a bus listening to a meditation for the first time.
“I remember this feeling of the stress justleaving my body and melting away.”
The former dancer embarked on what seemed a natural path to becoming a yogi. She visited Goa, India to complete her training.“I was feeling like I’d found my practice, it was magical. I thought ‘I’ve got to share this with everyone, it’s just so healing’.”
Today she runs classes for people of all ages, with a philosophy that all you need isto listen to your body.
“I encourage people not to get caught up with the idea of how yoga should look. We see posts on social media of people arranging their bodies in crazy shapes and it can put people off, but anyone can practice yoga. If you’re taking 10 minutes out of your day for yourself, and focusing on your mind, body and breath, that’s yoga.”
Her own routine varies depending on how she feels. “Sometimes I’ll do 10 minutes meditation or 20 minutes yoga. Other timesI will sit in stillness and gaze at my plants. It’s about finding what works for you.”
She describes yoga as ‘the ultimate selfcare’ and advocates involving children froma young age.
“It’s a safe space where they can learn about their mind and their bodies so that when they’re older they’ll have an awareness of mindfulness.
Family yoga is a wonderful way for families to come together and strengthen bonds, where everyone is equal.”
Grace still enjoys a party, but believes strongbonds are forged through yoga. “I think you’re more present and you can have deeper, meaningful conversations.”
Find out more about Grace's classes on Instagram:
Adult yoga: @innerbliss_yoga
Toddler, kids and teen yoga: @blissfulbees2022
To find a yoga class near you,enter your postcode on The British Wheel of Yoga website.
Patients in heart failure can spend a large part of their lives in hospital. Now a revolutionary new approach is giving them the same care, treatment, and support at home as they’d receive on a hospital ward. We meet the nurse at the forefront - and a woman whose life has been changed since she went onto the ‘virtual ward’.
Nisha Jose has 20 years of experience as a coronary care nurse. She’s seen the impact on patients and families of having to stay in hospital many times while their symptoms are stabilised. It may be a simple tweak of medications, but admissions mount up. In some cases someone’s total stay could be upto 60 days a year.
The situation can be distressing for both patients and staff, says Nisha, clinical team leader at Mersey Care’s Clinical Telehealth Hub.
“People yearn for normality and the comfort of home, yet when they get home, they may become worried. It’s heartbreaking to watch.”
When health services became remote during the COVID-19 pandemic, a different way of supporting these vulnerable patients was needed. Mersey Care was already at the forefront of using Telehealth – remote monitoring of people in their own homes, by specialist nurses at a clinical hub.
The service, developed in partnership with Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and digital health company Docobo, allows patients to record vital signs, suchas oxygen levels and blood pressure, onto the Docobo secure monitoring system via a device provided by the NHS, or the patient’s own smart phone. The system uses the data provided to identify any deterioration of symptoms and complications.
It was already being used to enable patients with other chronic health conditions and those hospitalised with COVID, to be treated at home. Nisha says offering that to heart failure patients was a ‘lightbulb moment’.
“We knew we had the platform and theclinical expertise, so we were excited. Butwe were also very clear - the system had toimprove quality of life for people who hadalready spent so much of their lives in hospital.”
Mersey Care’s team worked closely with coronary care experts from the Royal and Aintree Hospitals to develop the programme and invite people in their care to take part (see Colette’s story below).
Patients are trained to use a handheld device that enables observations – normally carried out in the ward – to be taken remotely and sent electronically to specialist nurses. They review results and will contact the person to advise of any concerns. Results are also reviewed by a cardiologist during a daily virtual ‘ward round’.
She says the Telehealth vision is to replicate a ward setting, striving for perfect care andoperating 24 hours, seven days per week.
“We can do everything that would happen on a ward,” says Nisha. “We take observations every six hours, like staff on a ward, to identify any issues. We can even carry out ECGs at the patient’s home.“
We may not be standing beside the person when we are caring for them, but we have the clinical skills to identify the early signs of deterioration, and we’re there when they need us – it’s like pressing a buzzer on the ward.”
Find out more on our Telehealth page.
I’VE GOT MY LIFE BACK - by Jackie Rankin
Colette Melia is excited about the model village her husband John is building in their back garden. It’s a work in progress – he’s dug out the railway line that will run through the village and she’s spent the summer watching it spring into life.
This time last year the 66 year old was making regular trips to hospital. A former university law lecturer, she had already been forced into early retirement by Crohn’s Disease, a condition which affects the digestive system.
Last January, after nine years of unexplained breathlessness, she was diagnosed with heart failure. Although she was relieved to have a diagnosis, constant hospital visits and admissions left Colette despondent.
“I had great treatment from the cardiac team, including heart failure nurses and cardiologists and community nurses, but never knowing if I’d need to go to hospital was a strain for me. Because of the Crohn’s disease I need to be close to a loo so I was always anxious.”
When she was invited to join the Virtual Ward programme in March, Colette didn’t hesitate. A technician delivered the equipment to her home, including a smart device, blood pressure monitor, an oximeter (for measurin goxygen in the blood), scales, a thermometer and a pedometer.
Colette was given training so she can now record vital signs and symptoms daily andenter them into a device, which then sends them to the Telehealth Clinical Hub. The Docobo system displays the observations on screen at the hub and alerts the attention of the nursing team if any reading or symptomis abnormal.
“I was apprehensive about using the equipment”, says Colette, “but it’s simple. It’s just like being on a ward, you’ll get an immediate response which is very reassuring. They have a virtual ward round just like in hospital, so I know my readings can be reviewed by a cardiologist as if I was on an actual ward.”
Colette enjoys a good relationship with the team.
“It’s perfect. You know they’re there, watching your readings, which gives you the confidence to get on with your life. I was so worried before, I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I feel like I’ve got my life back.”
If you are having difficulty finding your groove, it might be time to meet Ray McNulty.
At the age of 66, when many people are considering retirement, Ray has just taken on a full time job as a learning facilitator at The Life Rooms. One of the many tasks on his To Do list is to encourage everyone to Get Your Groove On.
Ray left school with no qualifications but hassince had a remarkable portfolio career whichincludes entertainer, adult education teacher and creator of training manuals for accountants.
“I believe in people’s potential,” says the father of four.
“I have met challenges all through my life but I believe in simple hard work. I was never very good at anything naturally but I became agood footballer through hard work, I got my teaching qualifications through hard work. If my kids ever say to me: ‘Dad you can’t do that,’ they know I will definitely give it a go.”
Ray admits to having depression following the breakdown of a relationship more than a decade ago and that it was dance that got him back on track.
“I had no job, no money and I was lacking confidence so I got myself a voluntary jobat the Joseph Lappin Centre and I started to turn my life around."
“I knew that I wanted to get fit so I joined a Zumba class at my local sports centre. I was the only man in a room full of women. I did a few sessions – it was really tough and physically demanding. I found I couldn’t keep up and realised that a lot of people were in the same boat.”
Ray came up with the idea of a Sway with Ray class, targeting people who had social isolation and he still teaches at the Joseph Lappin Centre.
His new role draws on both his entertainment and teaching roots and his Get Your Groove On classes at The Life Rooms are open to all, regardless of age, ability or mobility. “It’s got to be fun,” says Ray. “You don’t have to keep up with me, you don’t have to remember the steps as long as you keep moving. You can sit down, you can stand up – it’s easy to follow.
“I say to people: ‘If you go out of here feeling better than when you came in, I haven’t charged you enough!’”.
The classes at The Life Rooms are free. Music lovers will appreciate his choice oftracks – from T-Rex to Dire Straits, Elton John to Ed Sheeran there is something for everyone.
The physical and mental health benefits areobvious. Margaret Oakes said: “I left the classsmiling and on such a high that I ended upwalking the two and half miles home.”
Sarah Mulcahy added: “It’s so relaxing, giving you time for yourself.” Ray’s sunny personality and get up and goattitude rubs off on everyone.
Aina Olanrewaju said: “The class makes me feel happy, smile and laugh. And Ray laugh swith us.”
Charley Jenkins is accompanied to the class by members of the Mersey Care team. She said: “Your health improves week by week. Meeting people and communicating with each other also improves my mental health. “When I say I want to go, the team end upfighting about who’s going to take me!”