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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 12 February 2007

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THE SILENT KILLER

ELDERLY and vulnerable people in Liverpool are at real risk from a deadly killer. It stalks them quietly over a period of time, and once it’s caught them there’s little chance of escape…  We’re talking of course about Hypothermia, and with the launch of the Warm Homes Campaign on 20 November, and falling temperatures, Liverpool’s Advantage Healthcare office, one of the UK’s top healthcare solutions organisations, gives advice and guidance to help us prevent this silent threat. Whether it’s for yourself, a neighbour, a relative, or a friend; following the steps outlined below really could help save a life.

Last winter, in England and Wales, 23,000 elderly people died as a direct result of the cold. This shocking figure is not unique or unexpected, in fact in the last 5 years more than 130,000 people over 65 have died in this way.  What makes the statistics more worrying, is that the UK has a higher number of winter deaths than comparable European countries; and even EU neighbours with colder climates such as Finland, Denmark and Austria have lower numbers of deaths attributable to the cold than us.

Dr Peter Sachon from the Met Office said winter deaths go up by approximately 1.4% for every 1 degree drop in temperature below 18 degrees Celsius. Most of these will be from respiratory or cardiovascular ailments such as heart attacks, strokes, bronchial and other conditions.  So what causes this silent killer and what can be done about it?

Advantage Healthcare is an agency at the frontline of the fight to cut these unnecessary deaths. They provide highly trained staff to GP’s Surgeries, hospitals and health centres; as well as providing domiciliary care for elderly and infirm clients in the comfort of their own homes. They have 35 branches nationwide and the Liverpool branch staff are promoting ways to ‘stay safe this winter’.

Keith Nurcombe, Operations Director of Advantage Healthcare, explained:- “Our staff are highly trained and well aware of the ways to spot and treat the various stages of hypothermia, however in many cases avoidable deaths happen because no-one spots the warning signs. Which is why it’s so important that there is a shared responsibility amongst all care workers, including district nurses, GPs, and the family and friends of vulnerable people. Having seen the devastation that this silent killer causes, we’re trying to increase awareness of what to look for and what to do.”

What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia occurs in cold environments when the normal body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius drops below 35 degrees Celsius. When the body energy is exhausted, hypothermia can become life-threatening which is why the elderly are so vulnerable.

There are 3 stages of hypothermia and it is important to familiarise yourself with their symptoms. Mild hypothermia is accompanied by bouts of shivering, grogginess and muddled thinking, whilst Moderate hypothermia is characterised by violent shivering or shivering which suddenly stops, an inability to think and pay attention, slow shallow breathing, and a slow weak pulse. Severe hypothermia sees the shivering stop and the patient lose consciousness, whilst displaying little or no breathing and a weak irregular or non-existent pulse.

What causes Hypothermia and how can you protect against it?

One key factor which can contribute to hypothermia is homes which are inadequately heated. Age Concern is currently lobbying the government to increase the fuel allowances provided, however if fuel bills are a problem, it is important to ensure that at least 1 room is well heated.

Older people should also ensure that they dress well, ideally with thin layers of clothes made of wool, cotton or fleecy fabrics, and that they do not stay sitting still for long periods of time. Any exercise should however be approached with caution during the wet or icy weather.

It’s also important that all vulnerable people get their flu jabs, and it’s also advised that they have at least 1 hot meal every day, and sip hot drinks regularly. Friends, family members and neighbours can help by keeping an eye on elderly people, and ensuring that in the particularly cold weather they have sufficient provisions, that gaps in doors and windows are sealed up, and that the heating system is working well.

Electric blankets are often used by the elderly to keep warm at night, however they do pose a certain risk themselves. If using one, it is imperative that it is safety checked every 3 years; Age Concern are currently offering free checks for older people in selected areas of the UK. For more information contact Age Concern’s Information Line on 0800 009966 or visit www.ageconcern.org.uk.

How Do You Treat Hypothermia?

The NHS advise that hypothermia is always treated as a medical emergency, and that the symptoms are judged themselves, regardless of what the person actually says.  The emergency services should be contacted as extreme hypothermia needs expert urgent medical treatment; indeed rapid re-warming with hot water or massage should be avoided as if it is not done properly it could lead to serious tissue damage.

Advantage Healthcare’s recent acquisition of Quantica Healthcare has expanded the Group’s UK regional presence, and strengthened its position as one of the leading healthcare recruitment solutions providers in the UK. The £4.5 million purchase sees Advantage Healthcare expand its portfolio of services to also include qualified social workers.

Advantage Healthcare Group Limited brings together a number of nationally recognised brands, including Quantica Healthcare, Montpellier Health Care, Professional Healthcare Services (PHS), Strand Nurses Bureau Ltd, Advantage Healthcare Nursing & Care Limited, Advantage Healthcare Overseas Staffing Limited.

To find out more information about Advantage Healthcare, please call 0800 032 3355, email, visit www.advantagehealthcare.com  or speak to your local branch.

Alternatively contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 336699.

Be a Maths - Whizz

Whizz Education, the UK's award winning educational publisher, is launching a new initiative dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of maths for both parents and children.  Wednesday 14 March 2007 will become the first ever National Maths - Whizz Day. 

14 March 2007 is a crucial day for maths itself. It is Albert Einstein's 128th birthday and the celebratory, Pi Day.

Albert Einstein is regarded the most well known mathematician in the world and contributed more than any other scientist to the modern vision of physical reality. His special and general theories of relativity are still regarded as the most satisfactory model of the large-scale universe that we have.

Pi is the 16th letter in the Greek alphabet and is denoted by the symbol .

Pi is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of
a circle; approximately equal to 3.14159265358979323846.

With much emphasis lately on personalised learning and testing children when they are ready, rather than at a fixed age, Ofsted have called for Government backed home tuition for pupils who are not progressing as they should. Currently 20% of children are leaving primary school without a solid foundation in literacy and numeracy. A pilot scheme in 10 local authority areas is to take place from April 2007 in which the bottom 5% of children in each subject of each key stage in these areas will be offered extra support and tuition outside of the classroom.  Ofsted have also suggested that parents should get more information, such as lesson plans and reports on the internet.

How to get involved

Schools and parents are being encouraged to run quizzes and competitions on the day to make maths fun. A free pack is available to download from www.whizz.com to give ideas on how best to get involved and enjoy National Maths - Whizz Day.  There is also an online quiz where you can work out your maths age.

Ron Van Der Meer, the inventor and Creative Director of Maths - Whizz, says:- "Research shows that if children could change one thing about their maths teaching it would be to have more fun examples to make it more enjoyable. Maths is a subject that can be enjoyed by all, especially with Maths - Whizz, so get involved in National Maths - Whizz Day and help make maths fun for all. "

Available for use in schools and at home, teachers, parents and kids agree - Maths - Whizz, the online interactive maths tutor, is the most interesting and exciting way for any child to learn. The service acts just like a human tutor, offering 1-on-1 learning that reacts to the child's individual learning needs in guiding them through lessons. Parents also get their own private login to access a range of reports showing their child's measurable progress.

Maths - Whizz is already established in over 3000 schools and won a coveted BETT award in 2006 from leading teachers' organisation BECTA. In a recent schools study using Ofsted data Maths - Whizz was shown to increase maths pass rates by 18%.

MPs SAY “YES” TO FREIGHT BY RAIL

AN overwhelming majority of Members of Parliament are in favour of shifting freight to rail, a recent survey shows.  When presented with the statement, “the railway network should be used more to transport freight, 96% of MPs agreed. Only 1% disagreed with the statement.  The firmest support in Westminster was from Liberal Democrat MPs, of whom 74% strongly agreed with the statement. Not one MP from any party expressed a strong disagreement.

The survey was commissioned by Parkside 2010, an alliance of local and national representatives from charities, community and business groups who are backing plans to develop a new rail freight interchange on the site of the former Parkside Colliery in Newton-le-Willows.  One of the chief aims of the interchange is to help bring down carbon emissions, by getting more freight delivered by rail throughout the country, reducing congestion on our roads.  The new interchange will also provide a massive boost to the local economy, create 10,000 new jobs, and enhance the local environment through a new Countryside Park.

Lord Evans of Parkside, who chairs the Alliance, said:- “This survey confirms that there is huge support in Westminster for moving freight onto rail. The plans for Parkside are well thought out, and are in one of only a few areas in the country that can deliver this. The Alliance is calling on everybody to now get behind the proposals which will create jobs and improve the local environment.”

Southport pharmacy introduces touch screen health advice

ADVICE on common complaints and ailments and their recommended treatment are now available at the touch of a screen from Rowlands pharmacy in Southport.  Visitors and customers will now be able to access health tips and information on a whole range of conditions and symptoms, as well as details of recommended treatments and other health products available from the pharmacy via the screen.

“Our new touch screens give customers even more access to health advice and a wider range of niche products.

They are easy to use and provide clear, visual tips and guidance on symptoms and treatments of common complaints. Visitors can also see all the latest product promotions available in each branch - all from the touch screen. These are an excellent addition to the services we provide for the local community. They are an ideal point of reference which customers can browse while waiting for their prescriptions or they can call in specifically to make a private enquiry.” explained Rod Grundy, area manager for Rowlands.

Rowlands pharmacies serve around 20 regions across the UK.

“We play a vital role in the community and with mounting pressures on GPs, we are frequently more accessible for advice on health matters.

We build up good relationships with patients, which helps us provide the help they require on each visit.” added Mike Johnson, Rowlands marketing manager

Rowlands pharmacy is at:- 22 Liverpool Road, Birkdale, Southport.

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