Author Archives: Clive Price

ACTORS STAR IN ALZHEIMER’S FILMS

Samuel L Jackson, Bryan Cranston and Christopher Eccleston feature in a new campaign to show the physical impact that diseases like Alzheimer’s have on the brain.

Through a series of award-winning films by Aardman Animations, the three leading actors are helping Alzheimer’s Research UK to challenge misconceptions about dementia.

NOT INEVITABLE

During World Alzheimer’s Month in September, they have played leading roles in the charity’s #ShareTheOrange campaign to highlight that dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing.

The films counter fatalism about the condition and show hope lies in research. Each video features an orange gradually stripped away to demonstrate how the diseases that cause dementia physically attack the brain.

The brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia, weighs around 140g less than a healthy brain – about the weight of an orange.

According to Alzheimer’s Research UK, one in five people believe dementia is an inevitable part of ageing. The films help counter this belief and show dementia is caused by physical diseases that could be slowed, and ultimately stopped, through research.

HARD HIT

The charity claims people with dementia have been particularly hard hit by Covid-19, with figures suggesting a quarter of those dying from Covid-19 have also had dementia.

‘People with dementia are bearing the brunt of Covid-19,’ said Director of Communications Tim Parry, ‘and the future of dementia research is under threat from the pandemic.’

Legal & General is supporting the charity as it reaches new audiences with this important message. ‘Dementia causes untold heartache to families across the globe,’ said Tim Parry. ‘Our #ShareTheOrange campaign shows that through research we can change this picture.’

Rock singer spotlights dementia concern

Dementia is an unusual theme in popular music. But it’s the focus of a tear-jerking track on the latest album from Fish (pictured), former frontman of rock band Marillion.

And it’s unusual enough to merit the attention of Age UK, a leading charity dedicated to helping everyone make the most of later life. Age UK interviewed Fish – whose real name is Derek William Dick – and connected his composition with their own work in dementia support.

MOVED TO TEARS

The song that deals with cognitive decline is Garden Of Remembrance. It features on Fish’s new recording Weltschmerz which grapples with the challenges of age, and is released in September. Age UK believe the track is the album’s most poignant and personal moment. The singer himself is moved to tears on the accompanying video.

The track tells the story of a married couple, and resulting issues between the husband, who’s ‘Lost between the here and now/Somewhere that he can’t be found’ and his wife. According to Age UK, Fish’s mother has been living with him and his wife in Haddington, East Lothian, for about 18 months. More recently, she has shown signs of cognitive decline, though she hasn’t had an official diagnosis yet.

‘I never heard the word ‘dementia’ when I was a kid,’ the singer told Age UK’s content writer James Hickie. ‘People got old and you’d hear someone say, “Oh grandad forgets things!”’ Fish’s certainty his mother has dementia is strong enough for him to have written the song, inspired by gardening’s ability to anchor his mother back to more lucid moments.

‘She has what I call “rabbit hole moments” where she’ll get a bit lost, but the weather or doing the weeding can bring her back,’ said Fish, who found recording the song difficult, given its subject matter.

‘When you get emotional, your voice chokes. I was recording the song knowing my mum was about 15 metres away, imagining what is going to happen to her next. My wife and I also both love gardening, so I was thinking about the future for us, too. What happens if my mind goes and I don’t recognise her, while she’s left with a lifetime of recollections?’

Despite being made before lockdown, the video for Garden Of Remembrance – which features people separated by glass – predicted the imagery of recent months of families socially distancing and interacting through windows. ‘It was scarily prescient – it really hit me,’ said Fish.

LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING

Now 62, the singer is haunted by the fear of losing memory and ability to communicate properly. ‘It makes me think about the ways we deal with those who have dementia,’ he told Age UK.

‘You’re dealing with someone who, physically, is the same person, but mentally they’re changing before your eyes, sometimes subtly, and others in ways that really throw you. Trying to keep that level of understanding towards that person is difficult.’

Age UK warn that a dementia diagnosis can be overwhelming. Those affected may well have worries about what happens next. From keeping well, adapting your home and getting support, Age UK can offer guidance.

Small steps make great things happen

Great things happen when we walk. That’s the message from Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure.

They recently launched a campaign promoting walking – at the same time as our own focus on the subject in the latest Roof ‘n’ Roots. Supported by a TV advert, the department’s scheme Great Things Happen encourages more people to walk as a travel option.

DAILY EXERCISE

‘The Covid pandemic has been an incredibly difficult time for people,’ said Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon. ‘However, one of the positives to come from this crisis is more people choosing to walk as part of their journey or daily exercise. Like so many of us, I want us to build on this positive change and not just slip back to the way things were.’

Just as Revd Dr Brenda Mosedale pointed out in the summer edition of Roof ‘n’ Roots, the department also explained how walking is good for our general wellbeing. They said there are benefits for:

– physical health;
– mental health;
– the environment.

People are encouraged to continue making the shift towards walking as a transport option – especially for shorter journeys. The Department for Infrastructure believe this is an important way to achieve higher levels of sustainable transport and reduce the number of car journeys. By cutting traffic congestion and reducing air pollution, quality of life is improved for everyone.

‘Greener, cleaner, healthier and happier people and places must be our aim as we learn to live with this new normal during and after Covid-19,’ said Minister Mallon. ‘Remember, if out walking, use footpaths where available and always walk on the right hand side facing the oncoming traffic.’

TIME AND SPACE

It was in the Home Truths feature of Roof ‘n’ Roots that retired minister and GP Revd Dr Brenda Mosedale said, ‘Walking gives time to think, reflect, sometimes just time and space, even if you need assistance of some kind.

‘It’s good to talk, but it’s also good to walk alongside someone quietly, just knowing they are there or, if you are on your own, knowing others have walked that way before you.’

Walking can improve your mood, even if you didn’t want to go. In that same feature we also quoted Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind, who said for those who are able, outdoor exercise can be ‘absolutely vital’ for mental health. Writing in Public Service Executive, he recommends taking a walk as a way to relax and release endorphins, which can have a positive effect on mood. (Top photo is a still from the Great Things Happen TV advert. Side photo is Revd Dr Brenda Mosedale)

You can boost your water hygiene

Go with the flow and boost your water hygiene. Take some simple steps to avoid complex problems in your home.

That’s the message from our Property Team. Flushing showers and taps after being away, keeping shower heads clean and maintaining a 60C temperature in your hot water system will help you steer clear of Legionnaire’s disease.

WHAT IS LEGIONELLA?

This is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, which can affect anyone. It is caused by the inhalation of small droplets of water from contaminated sources containing Legionella bacteria.

Hot and cold water systems in homes are a potential source for Legionella. Main areas of risk are where the bacteria can multiply and spread – eg in spray from showers and taps – even dishwasher and washing machine pipes.

Conditions ripe for colonisation are where water of between 20C and 45C stagnates – and where there is sludge, rust and scale for the bacteria to feed and multiply.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

Legionella acquired its name after an outbreak of a ‘mystery disease’ in 1976 at a convention of the American Legion, an association of US military veterans.

Legionnaire’s disease most commonly affects the elderly, or people with chest or lung problems. Not everyone exposed to legionella bacteria becomes ill. The good news is it’s easily preventable with simple control measures.

Risks from hot and cold water systems in most homes are generally considered to be very low, owing to regular water usage and turnover.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

However, it is vital to take the following precautions:

• flush through showers and taps for five minutes following a period of non-use (ie after being on holiday or if a room is not in regular use);

• keep all showerheads and taps clean and free from a build-up of lime scale, mould or algae growth;

• keep hot water on your boiler system at a temperature of 60C – and beware of scalding!

In addition, it is important to –

• tell MMHS if the boiler or hot water tank is not working properly, particularly if water is not coming out of the taps at a sufficiently high temperature;

• do not interfere with the settings on your boiler or hot water system. The hot water should be set so it’s heated up to 60C;

• tell MMHS if the cold water is still running warm after you have initially run off any water which may have accumulated in the pipes. It should not be above 20C;

• tell MMHS if there are problems, debris or discolouration in the water.

Apart from the home, Legionnaire’s disease may also be caught from your car. A BBC report said a significant number of cases – up to 20 per cent – could be attributed to windscreen washing. The wash bottle is kept warm in the engine compartment and is a breeding ground for the bacteria.

While research into this issue is still underway, the Health Protection Agency advises motorists to add a proprietary screen wash to the car’s wiper fluid, according to manufacturer’s instructions.

‘We have a legal obligation to ensure residents are aware of the possible causes and symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease,’ said Maintenance and Repair Manager Glenn Fry. ‘Then they can identify any problems easily and report any concerns to us.’

HOW TO BE A PICTURE OF HEALTH

Colour a picture, tend your garden, walk up a hill – or even phone a friend. That’s how some people have been beating the lockdown blues, according to the latest issue of our newsletter Roof ‘n’ Roots.

POSITIVE AFFECT

In the summer edition of Roof ‘n’ Roots, MMHS resident Meryl Bedford explains how she has been coping with the Coronavirus crisis. She found relief from loneliness by phoning her way through the local church directory. ‘I thought I should ring the people who are by themselves,’ said Meryl in the front cover story. Together they laughed about her stories of lockdown life. ‘It helps me – and I hope it helps them!’

Even before the days of Covid, retired GP and supernumerary Revd Dr Brenda Mosedale found walking gave her time to think. ‘Walking can improve your mood – even if you didn’t want to go,’ she writes in the regular Home Truths feature. Her experience is backed up by Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind. He recommends taking a walk as a way to relax and release endorphins, which can have a positive affect on mood.

Artists Mary Fleeson and Geoffrey Baines have seen people’s lives positively impacted by colouring. Separately, they have produced activity books to help people in this way. ‘Colouring makes you stop,’ said Mary, in a news story about the publications. Geoffrey explained that even your breathing slows down when you start colouring. A recent study showed colouring reduces anxiety.

AWESOME INGENUITY

In another article, national charity Thrive promotes the idea that the garden could be an untapped resource to boost people’s welfare and wellbeing. ‘Gardening can help bring structure when so much is in flux,’ said Thrive. Gardening tasks give you a workout. Being in sunlight can top up vitamin D levels, while helping to lower blood pressure. Connecting with nature has proven advantages for our wellbeing.

In her own message to Roof ‘n’ Roots readers, our CEO Mairi Johnstone summed up how people have coped with Covid. ‘The ingenuity all around has been truly awesome,’ she said. Referring to the well-known Bible passage about love – I Corinthians 13 – she added, ‘Let’s not forget love as we continue to work through this crisis.’

‘It felt like coming home’

Norman and Jan Hooks found peace with their past – and a future together.

Norman grew up amid fierce religious division in Northern Ireland. Jan had to work through issues from her childhood. Yet they both found healing from each of their own ‘troubles’.

SENSE OF ONENESS

The couple met at Cliff College in 1969. Jan was brought up in Salford as a foster child. She had to cope with all the emotional challenges such a journey can bring. Norman was brought up in Springfield Road, a junction of nationalist and unionist communities that saw much activity during the Troubles.

Norman went to a Methodist church and felt a call to Methodist ministry. Yet he never questioned the divide between Catholic and Protestant. Change came when he met a Catholic priest on a long train journey in the early 70s. ‘Both of us felt a sense of oneness and harmony in our Christian faith,’ said Norman.

Jan and Norman married in 1971. They became involved in the ‘house church’ movement and Norman served as an itinerant speaker.

The couple visited Cliff College on their 25th wedding anniversary in 1996. That marked the start of a journey back to Methodism. Norman sensed a renewal of his early call to Methodist ministry. ‘It felt like coming home,’ he said.

FOUND A HOME

He became a local preacher. The process towards ordination began in 1999 at the Buckingham, Bicester and Brackley Circuit – affectionately known as ‘the 3Bs’. Norman was ordained as a Methodist minister at the turn of the millennium.

Years later on a retirement course, they heard about the work of MMHS. The Society helped the couple find a home near their family on the east coast of England. ‘They’ve been phenomenal,’ Jan said of MMHS.

(Photo of Norman and Jan supplied by the couple. The full version of their story can be found in the Spring 2020 edition of Roof ‘n’ Roots)

SUMMER 2020

How have you been coping with the Covid crisis? Meryl Bedford broke the isolation barrier by working her way through her church directory. ‘I thought I should ring the people who are by themselves,’ Meryl told us. ‘It helps me – and I hope it helps them!’ Work your way through this pandemic with vital advice in the latest Roof ‘n’ Roots:

  • Why colouring is good for you;
  • How to walk your way to wellbeing;
  • Get your Gas Safety check done;
  • How your garden helps you grow.

‘Comedy brought me to church’

Comedy brought Joyce Barrass to church. Her spiritual journey took her from playing in a bomb crater – to teaching in one of the highest cities in the world.

Now an MMHS resident, Joyce was raised in a Methodist family at the Yorkshire mining village of Bolton-on-Dearne. Her father was head porter at the train station.

MISSION WORK

When she was seven, her father had a stroke. ‘My mum was looking after him,’ said Joyce, ‘so wasn’t able to get to church. I didn’t go to church until they needed somebody to write comedy material for a concert party in the late 70s.’

That took 15-year-old Joyce to Furlong Road Methodist Church. ‘I gradually got the call to mission work,’ she remembered.

Joyce knocked on the door of the former Overseas Mission Department. Their response was to train her and say, ‘How do you feel about Bolivia?’ Joyce’s response: ‘Where’s Bolivia?’ To top it all, she was a type 1 diabetic.

Armed with her O Level Spanish – and a fridge to preserve her insulin – in 1990, Joyce went to Sucre. She became the first UK Methodist mission partner in that region, and one of the first to Bolivia.

SUMMER EVENING

Joyce caught amoebic dysentery, an intestinal infection caused by a parasite. Soon after, she developed Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or ME. Even so, Joyce was disappointed when time came to return to the UK in 1992.

She was ordained in 1999. Joyce looked after three churches in Southampton and retired on health grounds in 2007. ‘I didn’t want to retire,’ she said, ‘but by God’s provision, I came here.’ Joyce moved into an MMHS house in Yorkshire (she is pictured above in her back garden at the property). ‘It was a summer evening and I saw what I knew could be home.’

(Photos by Clive Price. The full version of Joyce’s story can be found in the Winter 2019 edition of Roof n Roots. You can read more about Joyce on her own poetry website)

Our Richard becomes President

Former MMHS board member Revd Richard Teal has been elected and inducted as the new President of the Methodist Conference.

Richard’s induction took place on 27th June at Cliff College in Derbyshire, as part of the Methodist Conference – which is taking place online for the first time.

Richard was a member of the Society’s board for nine years before leaving MMHS to take on his prestigious new role.

HIT HARD

In his Conference address, Richard pointed out how the Church had been ‘hit hard’ by the coronavirus crisis.

‘Who would ever have thought a few months ago we would have had to close our doors and lock them, even at Easter!’ he said. ‘Many of our congregations are feeling totally disorientated, fearful and cut off from the fellowship we enjoy with each other.’

Richard also looked ahead at how the world can adapt to the impact of the pandemic – ‘Not a return to the same old same old but a church which has the reputation for transformation, for recreation and for empowerment of what we are living through in the present – in response to a faithful God who redeems history and promises the brightest of futures’.

GOD WITH US

He chose the final words of John Wesley as his theme for this year – ’The best of all is, God is with us’.

Richard comes from a farming background, having grown up in the Yorkshire Dales. He has spent most of his ministry in rural areas, including 11 years as Chair of the Cumbria District. He is now Superintendent of the Beverley Circuit in East Yorkshire.

Text and video of the presidential address is available here. Richard’s story can be read in Roof ‘n’ Roots here.

‘I’m so glad you are there’

Residents have expressed overwhelming support for the way the MMHS team has been weathering the Coronavirus storm.

Retired ministers have offered heart-warming comments since CEO Mairi Johnstone sent them a personal letter on 20th March.

POSITIVE FEEDBACK

One resident calling about storm damage, expected to hear an answerphone message. Instead, she spoke directly to Executive Assistant Rachel Dawson. ‘She was so glad we were still there,’ said Rachel. ‘We’ve had a lot of positive feedback about still being available on all the usual communication channels.’

Another householder said, ‘We feel for you and the team, when there are so many personal hopes and needs to attend to, in such unprecedented times’.

Some callers have expressed concern for staff comfort and safety. ‘This must be as challenging a time for you – as it is for us,’ said one resident. Maintenance and Repair Officer Patricia Berry received a message saying, ‘Thank you for your letter – and for continuing to work from home on the residents’ behalf’.

Mairi’s correspondence had announced that all MMHS staff would be working from home, in compliance with the UK Government’s Covid-19 measures. That meant setting up each team member with a computer and phone, directly linked to the Society’s office. Staff work at a variety of locations – from a corner of a living room to a shed in the garden – from London’s East End to Ireland’s east coast. They hold daily meetings via Zoom conference software (as pictured in library photo).

‘It’s led to considerable change,’ said Mairi, ‘but our aim was – and still is – to deliver the high levels of service that residents rightly expect.’ Mairi’s letter pointed out that for the foreseeable future, repair and maintenance works that are not essential should be delayed.

GOOD WISHES

However, issues that directly impact health, safety and security – such as a leaking pipe or faulty boiler – would be considered essential. Mairi assured residents their wellbeing ‘remains at the forefront of everything we do’.

The thoughts and prayers of many residents have been a great encouragement to Society workers. ‘We’ve felt very cared for,’ said Rachel.

‘Our staff team are really grateful for the good wishes we have received,’ said Mairi. ‘They are very much reciprocated.’