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Southport and  Mersey Reporter -  Your free online newspaper service covering the Merseyside region - (Greater Liverpool).
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Issue:- 8 July 2009

Liverpool keeps families in mind

LIVERPOOL is to lead the way in providing support for families affected by mental ill health.  The city has been named as 1 of  6 ‘implementer’ sites driving forward new guidance that recommends adult mental health services should routinely assess the needs of children as well.

It has come from the government agency in charge of improving social care services for children and adults - the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).  It advises that professionals should ‘think child, think parent, think family, and think outside the box’ to support parents and their families.  It is estimated that there are 2000 young carers in Liverpool, and up to half of them are caring for a parent or person with parental responsibility with chronic mental health problems.  Liverpool helped SCIE develop the guidance due to the good practice already going on in the city.

Councillor Ron Gould, executive member for health, care and safeguarding, said:- “It is good to see that the work we have been doing in Liverpool for some time is now being used as an example of good practice for the rest of the country.  Young people are under enough pressure when they are growing up, and the additional responsibility of caring for a parent means that it is vital we give them as much as support as we can.  The challenge now is to embed the good work we are already doing further and wider so that as many young people as possible are supported.”

Examples of good practice in Liverpool include the ‘Family Room’ project, which started from a collaboration called Keeping the Family In Mind, set up by Barnardos Liverpool Action with Young Carers and funded by the city council and Mersey Care NHS Trust.  Children spoke about their experience of mental health services and how they found visiting their parents on psychiatric wards frightening. This led to the introduction of the first Family Rooms in the country at four psychiatric units, to give them privacy when visiting their parents.

Another example is the Message In a Bottle scheme, which encourages families to keep their personal and medical details on a standard form located in the fridge so that the emergency services know where to look if they are called out.

23 year old Louisa is one of the people who has benefited from the partnership work with Barnardos.  She said:- “It’s very hard for outside people to understand. After a certain amount of time I became my mum – I’d phone up and be my mum and write letters. It’s what I did to get people to listen because if I wasn’t doing it, it wasn’t getting done.  Now I have a support network, everything’s changed. Our worker treated us both and we’re happier.”

SCIE’s Deputy Chief Executive Amanda Edwards, said:- “It’s easy for individual workers to focus on individual problems and not look at the wider family.  This guide will help staff in adult mental health and children’s services to plan and provide support that promotes improved mental health and wellbeing for all family members.”

A new group has been set up which includes the city council, Mersey Care NHS Trust and Liverpool PCT and other mental health groups to drive forward implementation of the guidance.

Merseyside heart patients missing out on vital support, says heart charity

HEART patients and their families in Merseyside are missing out on vital support and could be suffering in silence, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).  The heart charity is concerned about the low number of calls to its Heart HelpLine in the North West of England, despite there being more than 306,000 people living with coronary heart disease in the area.   Depression is also a common problem in patients following acute cardiac events, and it is estimated that up to 20% of individuals have a major depressive episode within a few weeks, with a further 25% experiencing milder depression. Ensuring heart patients have support is particularly important because inadequate social support can also harm their chances of recovery.  To tackle this, the BHF has launched a campaign to get heart patients and their families to seek support and information by calling its Heart HelpLine on:- 0300 333 1 333.   BHF Cardiac Nurse Ellen Mason said:- “There are hidden costs to heart disease that most people wouldn’t think of – the impact that it can have on their jobs, income, family life, and mental wellbeing.  No one should have to deal with all those things without the offer of support, but people often don’t know that their experiences and feelings are normal, or feel they can talk about it. Anyone concerned about heart disease can call our Heart HelpLine for information and support.”  The BHF’s Heart HelpLine is staffed by cardiac nurses, a bereavement counsellor and heart health advisors to provide lifestyle advice.  To get free information and support from the British Heart Foundation, anyone in the UK can call the Heart HelpLine on:- 0300 333 1 333 for the price of a local call.


DRIVERS across the region only concentrate for 66% of their time behind the wheel, it has emerged.  More than 60% also admit to ‘zoning out’ whilst behind the wheel with a massive 59% of drivers finding they forget parts of their journey.  51% switch to ‘auto-pilot mode’ on their daily commute to and from work.

Continental Tyres commissioned the survey of 4,000 UK road users and found that motorists were only fully concentrated on the road for 67% of the time spent in the driver’s seat.  And tuning the radio, talking to passengers and gawping at the scenery topped the list of everyday distractions.

Guy Frobisher, director of safety at Continental Tyres yesterday said:- “These statistics are really worrying. When driving, so much can happen in just a few seconds that you need to be able to react quickly so you can brake safely.  If you’re not fully paying attention you are less likely to anticipate the risks that emerge during a journey and reactions are slowed.  The net effect is that people are not avoiding the risks and they are less likely to brake in time, meaning more accidents.’’

The research found the average driver is on the road for 45 minutes a day and that they are in their own little world for 17 minutes of this time.  They make an average of 3 trips in their car each day. They are distracted at least 3 times on each journey and for at least 4 seconds each time. At just 40 mph a car will travel over 18 metres every second.  Some 27% of respondents believe their short attention span is to blame for their poor driving – with 48% being disinterested in the road ahead and not being able to concentrate for more than 37 minutes.  It also emerged that 45% have crashed or had a close call due to being distracted whilst behind the wheel.

Guy Frobisher added:- “Our fast-paced lives can mean little time to fit everything in, but driving is no time for multi-tasking. Our advice is to avoid distractions like eating or drinking or making a phone call, even if hands-free. You could prevent an accident.  Even with their eyes on the road, drivers should be aware of the affect that tyre tread depth has on stopping distances.   Tests show that in wet weather a car travelling at 70mph with 3mm of tread would stop when a car at the legal minimum of 1.6mm would still be travelling at 50mph and not come to a stop for a further 44 metres.  It’s then that you hope that other drivers are not only paying attention but also ensuring their tyres are in good condition as well.”

Worryingly, a quarter of respondents have scared others with their driving and 1 in 5 has feared for their own safety.  Although 57% of drivers admit their driving improves when children are in the car.  49% admit to having knowingly broken the law – from talking on their mobile phone to skipping a red light.   9 in 10 also admit to rubber-necking at accidents on the side of the road.  Yet 88% of people still rate themselves as ‘good drivers’.


1. Re-tuning the radio/inserting a CD into the player
2. Talking to a passenger
3. Looking at scenery
4. Eating
5. Listening to loud music
6. Reaching into the glovebox
7. Looking at houses
8. Drinking
9. Other drivers in cars next to you
10. Passengers asking questions
11. Texting
12. Trying to unwrap a sweet
13. Talking on the mobile phone
14. Looking at a hot girl/bloke walking down the street/in another car
15. Shop windows
16. Kids in the back seat shouting, or playing up
17. Trying to read a map
19. Looking at billboards
20. Singing

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