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HEALTHY KNOWSLEY with Councillor Sean Donnelly, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care

Welcome to my first column as the author of Healthy Knowsley. I’ve been the Knowsley Council cabinet member for health and social care for five months now, leading on the transformation of our Adult Social Care services. This includes investing more in prevention and early intervention, helping people to remain in their own homes for longer and avoid hospital admittance or the need for a residential / nursing home. Another key responsibility for me is public health, helping people to stay healthy and protecting them from getting ill.

When I’m not being a Councillor, I work in the NHS as a Commissioning Manager for Learning Disabilities - a job I love doing and have been doing for three years now!

This column provides me with a great opportunity to share some of the fantastic work we are doing here in Knowsley, helping residents to improve their own health and wellbeing as well as providing support where it is needed around a whole range of issues from weight management, quitting smoking and improving your own mental health. Information and advice about the range of support available can be found on www.healthyknowsley.co.uk

With winter approaching, we need to look after ourselves even more than ever and there’s some simple steps we can take to stay warm and healthy.

You can stay warm by heating your home (or some of it) to at least 18oC, keep active when you’re indoors, wear lots of thin layers and have at least one hot meal during the day.

You can stay healthy by having your flu jab - it’s the best way to keep you and your family protected from this virus that can be very nasty, particularly with vulnerable groups or those with a long-term health condition - speak to your GP to make an appointment.

If you feel unwell visit your pharmacy in the first instance - there’s one near to where you live and there’s no need to make an appointment.

Finally, with the dark nights drawing in, remember to keep a check on your elderly or vulnerable residents or neighbours.

Posted by on October 12th, 2018

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KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

This month our Know your Numbers roadshow is touring the borough offering you free blood pressure checks from 10 to 16 September.  

You can drop in to any of the events below to get your blood pressure checked for free and if there are any issues, such as a low or high reading, advice and support will also be available on how to address this:-

10 September - 8am-11am and 5.30pm-8pm - Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park
10 September - 8am-11am and 5.30pm-8pm - Northwood Community Centre
11 September - 8am-11am and 5.30pm-8pm - Kirkby Leisure Centre
12 September - 8am-11am and 5.30pm-8pm - Halewood Leisure Centre
13 September - 8am-11am and 5.30pm-7pm - Stockbridge Village Neighbourhood Centre
14 September - 8am-11am and 5.30pm-7pm - Prescot Soccer Centre

Blood pressure is the term used to describe the strength with which your blood pushes on the sides of your blood vessels as it’s pumped around your body.  High blood pressure (hypertension) can put a strain on your heart and blood vessels and over time this extra strain can damage your body’s organs, which can increase your risk of developing serious problems such as a stroke or heart attack.  Low blood pressure (hypotension) can cause dizziness and fainting.

A blood pressure check is the only way to find out if your blood pressure is too high or too low, because most people won't have any obvious symptoms.

To help you to manage a healthy blood pressure, there’s a range of ideas to help you, and your family, stay fit and healthy on our Healthy Knowsley website - www.healthyknowsley.co.uk

From quitting smoking, weight loss programmes and getting active, you’ll find a wealth of information on Healthy Knowsley. Plus, there’s information around debt, learning and working - all of which can have an impact on our health.

If you need support to help you make positive lifestyle changes, then you can be referred to a Lifestyle Advisor.  

It’s free and confidential to people living or working in Knowsley. Simply contact the Healthy Knowsley Hub on 0800 0731 202 or email: health.trainers@nwbh.nhs.uk and they can advise you on specialist support services to meet your needs.

 

Posted by HEALTHY KNOWSLEY with Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton on September 6th, 2018

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Keeping the little ones entertained

With the school holidays now in full swing, you may be looking for ideas to keep your little ones entertained.

It’s a perfect time to join Change4Life’s 10 minute shake up, with the theme over the summer being ‘Train like a Jedi’.  It will take children on a galactic adventure incorporating the excitement of Star Wars and inspire children to get more active.

You can take part online and this latest campaign encourages children to build their confidence and learn new fitness moves.

To find out more, visit www.nhs.uk/change4life/activities/train-like-a-jedi where Olympic gold medalist Jade Jones will guide you through 12 special moves which will help you master the ways of the Jedi.

Once you have finished the training, these Jedi skills will be invaluable in the next part of the journey - a series of secret challenges during the summer holidays.

There’s also a range of activities taking place in the borough’s libraries - find out more at www.knowsley.gov.uk/kidssummerlibrary

As well as the children keeping active, did you know that just ten minutes of exercise a day could really help to boost your own health and wellbeing?

If you don’t think you’ve got the time, you can add this on to everyday activities such as taking the stairs rather than the lift, doing a brisk walk during your lunch break or get off the bus a stop early and walk the extra distance.  At home, getting the hoover out or taking the dog for a walk all add up.

Consider wearing a tracker and aim to build your steps up over time or download one of the free pedometer apps on your phone.

It’s never too late to make small lifestyle changes such as being more active, eating healthier or drinking less - they will all help to improve your health and wellbeing.  To find out more visit www.healthyknowsley.co.uk

Whatever you’re doing over the summer, enjoy!

 

Posted by HEALTHY KNOWSLEY with Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton on August 7th, 2018

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HEALTHY KNOWSLEY with Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton

REMEMBER TO STAY SAFE IN THE SUN

With the warmer weather and the school holidays approaching, we are more likely to be out and about more over the coming weeks.

With that in mind, sun safety is a key message I’d like to share this month. The best way to enjoy the sun safely and protect your skin from sunburn and reduce your risk of developing skin cancer is to use a combination of shade, clothing and sunscreen. Plus remember to keep hydrated and drink plenty to water.

When the sun is strong, spend time in the shade (particularly between 11am and 3pm). Cover up with light, loose fitting clothes, a hat and sunglasses. Use a sunscreen with a protection level of at least SPF15 (sun protection factor or UVB - ultraviolet B radiation - protection) and 4 stars UVA - ultraviolet A radiation protection). With both, the higher the rating the better and remember to use it generously and reapply regularly.

Remember to check the expiry date on your sunscreen, noting how long they can be used once opened.

Remember babies, children and very fair skinned people should avoid direct sunlight as their skin is far more sensitive.

I hope you have a happy and fun-filled summer.

Save the date! If you haven't already, make sure you have the Knowsley Feelgood Festival and Flower Show in your diary.

The Feelgood Festival takes place on Saturday 4 August from 1pm until 4pm with a range of fun activities to boost your heart rate as well as activities to relax and de-stress you. 

Following this on Sunday 5 August from 11am until 4pm is the 20th Knowsley Flower Show, with a huge display of prize winning flowers, plants, vegetables and crafts.

Both events are family fun-filled days of entertainment, taking place at Court Hey Park in Huyton. Further information is available on www.knowsleynews.co.uk

Posted by Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton on July 3rd, 2018

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HEALTHY KNOWSLEY

CLEAN AIR DAY TAKES PLACE ON THURSDAY, 21 JUNE

It provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the important issue of air pollution, as well as the steps you can take to improve air quality both in your local area as well as your home.

We know that air pollution impacts on our health and wellbeing, increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer (particularly lung cancer), diabetes and asthma attacks.

There are a number of causes of air pollution including emissions from cars, particularly diesel cars, cars not being well maintained and open fires and stoves.

There are simple steps you can do to help reduce pollution and protect yourself and your family. 

These are:-
•  Use your feet - leave your car at home and walk, cycle, take the bus. As well as cutting down on the amount of pollution you make, you can get some exercise too!

•  Switch your engine off when stationary - you’ll help to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians.

•  When upgrading your car, consider a low polluting alternative such as an electric or LPG model, which will also save you money on road tax too.

•  Save your log burner for the cold winter - consider Defra-approved stoves, use authorised fuel and only light your wood burner when you really have too.

•  BBQs are often an overlooked source of air pollution. Use dry, seasoned wood or smokeless fuels to reduce yours and your neighbours exposure.

•  Open your windows when cooking or using cleaning products.

•  Ensure you have your boiler regularly serviced.

On 21 June (and beyond), residents are being asked to make a pledge to support Clean Air Day.  

This could include pledging to leave your car at home, walking the kids to school and turning off your engine when you’re not moving and consume less energy which will produce less pollution (eg switching off lights that aren’t needed at home, only filling your kettle with water for what you need and only running the washing machine when you have a full load). All of these small steps can make a big difference.

Further information about Clean Air Day and other ideas to help you minimise pollution can be found on www.cleanairday.org.uk or follow the day’s activities on Twitter @cleanairdayuk

Posted by Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton on June 6th, 2018

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HEALTHY KNOWSLEY

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health awareness week runs from 14 to 20 May.  This year’s theme is stress and with the busy lives people now lead, it’s not surprising that approximately 16 million people nationally experience a mental health problem each year and stress is a key factor in this.

Life changes such as moving house, getting married or coping with bereavement can all cause stress. So too can problems such as unemployment, poor housing, noisy neighbours, relationship problems and difficulties at work.

All too often we have too many things on our ‘to do list’, which can make us feel overwhelmed and pressured and this can easily turn into stress.

Everyone’s stress triggers are different, and everyone reacts differently to stress. It can affect how you think, feel, behave and how your body works.

Common signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, craving for food or loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, irritability, low self-esteem, constant worry, a bad temper and headaches.

You can’t always stop the stress from happening, but how you react to it is really important.
Everybody has a time when they feel at their best. Identify your best time (you may be a morning or an afternoon person) and use it to carry out important tasks that need the most energy and concentration. Make a list of things you have to do on any given day. These are your priorities - everything else can be left until later. Arrange these priorities in order of importance and try to stick to that order.

Once you’ve finished a task, take some time to relax and remember to reflect on what you’ve achieved that day. Don’t spend time about worrying about what still needs to be done.
Keeping active, such as going for a walk, can also help to have a positive impact on your mood.

To find out more, visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk

Posted by Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton on May 11th, 2018

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HEALTHY KNOWSLEY The Public Health Annual Report 2018

This year, our Public Health Annual Report has been presented in a video format and focusses on healthier and happier children and young people.

We know that this is a big issue nationally, with Department of Health figures showing that one in ten children struggle with their mental health.  Reasons include chaotic home environments, responsibilities of being a carer and school work.

At a local level, we know that two out of three primary school children worry about a range of things from tests at school through to homework, family problems and the way that they look.  At a secondary school level, two out of every five pupils worry about exams and tests, how they look and crime, particularly knife crime.  All of these worries impact on our mental health and through the report, we are raising awareness of these issues and the support available in Knowsley.

Creating the right environment is key for children and young people to be able to talk about their feelings and emotions and, working with our partners, that is what we are doing here in Knowsley.

This includes the introduction of the 'Listen Up' project,  working with up to 70 young people who are exploring and sharing their experiences around mental health through the creation of comics and a range of leisure and culture activities available across the borough.

In addition, Emotional First Aid training is being delivered to people who work with children and young people, to improve their understanding of how to respond to the emotional needs of children and young people and a programme that supports children as they move from primary to secondary school has been developed.

We will continue to build on these initiatives over the coming years.  With everyone's help and support, we know that our children and young people will share their feelings and emotions, seek support if needed and go on to flourish into adulthood.
You can watch the video at www.knowsley.gov.uk/publichealth

 

Posted by Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton on April 11th, 2018

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HEALTHY KNOWSLEY with Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Knowsley and Sefton

TOGETHER WE CAN HELP TO COMBAT THIS HORRIBLE DISEASE

In Knowsley, early diagnosis of cancer in any form is a priority for me.

Many of us have been affected by cancer either directly, or indirectly. By ensuring residents know the signs and symptoms, attend screening appointments when invited, return bowel cancer kits and advising their doctor of any relevant family history, together we can help to combat this horrible disease.

This month, I am supporting Public Health England's national 'Be Clear on Cancer' campaign, focusing on breast cancer and targeting women aged 70 or over.

Nationally, one in three women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are aged 70 or over, yet they often think that it does not affect them. Breast screening takes place every three years for women aged between 50 and 70 so if you receive an appointment, please go along.

If you're over 70, you can ask for a free screening every three years - ask your GP.

Most women are aware to look out for a lump, but other signs include pain, changes to the skin, shape, size or feel of the breast. Make an appointment to see your GP if your notice any of these changes. If breast cancer is diagnosed early, it is more likely to be treated successfully. To find out more, visit www.nhs.uk/breastcancer70

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with around one in eight men getting prostate cancer at some point in their lives and your risk increases with age.

Most men with early prostate cancer don't have any signs or symptoms. Symptoms often only become apparent when your prostate is large enough to affect the urethra and you may start to notice things like an increased need to urinate, straining while urinating, dribbling after you finish urinating and feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied.

These symptoms shouldn’t be ignored and could be caused by a non-cancerous problem called an enlarged prostate. If you notice any of these symptoms, visit your GP.  

Further information is available at www.prostatecanceruk.org

Posted by Matthew Ashton on March 7th, 2018

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HEALTHY KNOWSLEY with Councillor Sean Donnelly, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care

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on October 12th, 2018



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