Category Archives: News

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.’

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.’

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.’

Cool to be kind

Be kind, get connected and do some colouring – those are just some of the practical things-to-do for Mental Health Awareness Week.

We looked at some of the messages shared by various agencies for the week (18th-24th May). We found a variety of resources on common themes.

FOCUS ON KINDNESS

Unusually, the Methodist Church’s own wellbeing resources include an adult colouring book. For relaxation or devotions, Slow Journeys In The Same Direction has been created by Geoffrey Baines, an Associate Chaplain at the University of Edinburgh. The idea has academic backing – researchers have found that daily colouring can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Grandparents may be interested to know the Church’s resources also feature mental health cards for children and young people. The cards provide tips on how to stay mentally healthy – and information on where to get help.

The Mental Health Foundation are focusing the week on kindness as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak. The foundation have found from their research that kindness and mental health are ‘deeply connected’. Chief Executive Mark Rowland said, ‘The research shows kindness is an antidote to isolation’.

Echoing that sentiment, the charity Mind encourage people to #SpeakYourMind. They want us to share positive messages with those who need a friend – so they don’t have to face this pandemic alone. Mind’s recent survey of more than 10,000 people showed connecting online with family and friends is one of the most common coping strategies many are using during these times.

POWERFUL VOICE

Rethink are pushing for wider community support for those experiencing severe mental illness. ‘The future of mental health care is community-based and locally focused,’ said Rethink. The organisation encourages us all to create caring communities by – sharing our own experience of mental illness, signing petitions, writing to our MPs, checking in on our neighbours and responding to others with kindness.

‘Your voice can be powerful,’ said Rethink.

The forgotten frontline

We hear of the Coronavirus crisis in hospitals, not care homes. The ‘second frontline’ of the Covid-19 war slips quietly under the radar. Our friends at Methodist Homes (MHA) are battling hard to change that.

They’ve launched a petition calling for ‘correct and necessary’ PPE in the care sector. Methodist Homes is the nation’s biggest charitable provider, but they’re not campaigning just for themselves. It’s for everyone in their sector.

CONSTANTLY ORDERING

MHA want as many people as possible to join them to put pressure on the Government and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They want to ensure all carers are equipped with the tools they need to safely do their job.

PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment. In care homes that means care workers need face masks, eye protection, aprons and gloves. In nursing homes, it also means wearing full gowns just like hospital staff. Being such a big network – with more than 4,000 older people living in their homes – MHA are constantly ordering supplies. And if one home runs out of PPE, they can shift stock around to help.

The price is high. According to PR Manager Theresa Knight, MHA recently had to buy fresh stocks of face masks. These protectors usually cost 20p per unit. For this latest order, MHA had to fork out £1 per mask. If that’s the pressure on a large care provider, what are the stresses on smaller agencies?

MHA Chief Executive Sam Monaghan has been promoting the needs of care homes across the national media. He has appeared on BBC, LBC, ITN and been written about in The Guardian and The Observer.

PROMOTING PETITION

Care manager Julie Roche also spoke of her experiences on The Guardian podcast, Today in Focus. Her MHA home Westbury Grange was full of ‘music and dancing’ until Covid-19 ripped through the facility and took 13 lives. Julie is a nurse, so she respects her NHS colleagues. But she feels older people in care homes are ‘almost written off’. It’s a risky time for care workers. Yet still they see offering end-of-life care as ‘an absolute privilege’.

MHA has been looking after older people since before the creation of the Welfare State. They started about five years before MMHS. We have a shared history, and we’re promoting their petition. (Photo: MHA)

How to connect in a crisis

Lockdown loneliness has attracted a crowd of helpers – including churches, charities and a Government secretary.

The Methodist Church is alerting members to the fact that while their buildings may be closed, many congregations offer phone pastoral care and an online worship experience. The Methodist Church also offers worship sheets to use at home.

CHATTY RADIO

Examples of online help include – Methodist Central Hall via YouTube, Thornton Methodist Church, Lancashire offering phone calls, social media presence and service materials and Wesley’s Chapel live streaming services.

Mental health support group Mind have published a list of practical ways to connect with people during the Coronavirus crisis. They recommend keeping in touch digitally with video chats, phone calls, messages or texts.

Mind suggest putting extra pictures up of those we care about can be a reminder of the people in our lives. Listening to a chatty radio station or podcast can help if our homes feel too quiet. Connecting with others in similar situations can also be achieved through online peer support communities like Elefriends, where people can share their experiences and hear from others.

The Government have launched a campaign to tackle loneliness and social isolation. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced loneliness as a ‘priority category’ of a £750 million charity-funding package. The aim of #Let’sTalkLoneliness is to get people talking openly about this issue. Useful tips and advice are shared, such as – joining a club or group online, and volunteering to support others in a similar position.

SOCIALLY CONNECTED

This campaign has been welcomed by Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Independent Age and Chair of the Campaign to End Loneliness. ‘Even before Covid-19, millions of people were experiencing loneliness,’ she said. ‘The lockdown, while necessary, has exacerbated this problem, particularly for older people.’

Three out of four over-65s feel contact with family or friends has been significantly limited, said an Independent Age survey. ‘Loneliness cannot be considered a second-tier issue during this crisis,’ Deborah added. ‘By working together, we can help ensure more people are staying physically distant, but socially connected during the lockdown.’ (Photo: Independent Age)

New handbook is leaner and greener

Everything from rabbits to refurbishments, ponds to plumbing, gullies to gas boilers – it’s all covered in the plastic-free, eco-friendly version of the MMHS Residents’ Handbook.

Well known among the Society’s residents, the Handbook used to be a heavy plastic manual weighed down by laminated pages and complex graphics.

FREE DOWNLOAD

It has now been totally revised and refined – and is available as a free download from the MMHS website. Residents without online access can request a paper copy.

The Handbook remains essential reference material for residents, who can find out what to do about pets, how to report emergency repairs, contacting contractors – and much, much more.

For instance, did you know if repair work costs under £100 you can authorise a contractor to carry out the work immediately? MMHS will reimburse you on submission of a receipt.

And do you know where essential services are located around your home and how to isolate them – in the event of an emergency? If not, there’s a handy checklist for you.

In addition, there is a whole page of important phone numbers, ten indexed sections covering a vast range of vital household matters, and a ready-to-use maintenance log.

ESSENTIAL INFO

The Handbook points out that while the Society looks after big structural issues from roofs to floorboards, the resident is responsible for items like sheds and shelving.

Guidance is as comprehensive as ever – but on fewer pages. Our property and operations teams worked hard to reduce the publication from a whopping 77 pages to a more accessible 26 pages.

‘Our revised new Handbook covers MMHS services, your rights and your responsibilities,’ said CEO Mairi Johnstone. ‘It’s essential information for our ministerial residents.

‘The plastic Handbook is now a thing of the past. The present and the future are looking greener.’ You can obtain your free copy here.