Hop Aboard the Health Bus

health-bus-123.jpgWell, its been quite a month touring around the Surrey countryside with our Health Bus …. not quite “Summer Holiday” – the weathers been pretty lousy, however its been great to see so many people and answer some of the public’s questions about our Fit for the future programme.   Lots of our staff have helped to man the bus – big thanks to everyone who has helped out.  Also to the lovely Ian, our driver and quite a character, whose help loading and unloading has been invaluable – is this starting to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech? 

We’ve also run a number of Question Time Events across the  county.  These have been a great opportunity for the public to ask questions to our esteemed panel of clinicians and staff about FFF.  This is just the beginning though – and we’ve now got the exciting task of implementing our plans and making these changes happen.  Its great to look forward to so many positive changes, which will have a profound impact on healthcare in Surrey!

If you’ve been part of this process, have heard us on the radio, or been to see us at one of our events, tell us what you think – its always good to hear your views.

Services for young people in Redhill

aug 07 004I spoke to Justine Braid from the Connexions office in Redhill about the Monday 4 U drop-in centre for teenagers that’s been running for the last six months or so. They are pleased with the way it’s gone and that attendance seems to have been driven largely by word of mouth. Young people are always going to be tricky customers when it comes to lifestyle advice so if you can provide something that they will not only come to but also recommend to their friends, you’re doing really well.

I recorded our conversation and here’s a podcast with edited highlights. What stood out for me was the approach of trying to cover everything in one place rather than referring people somewhere else. I also got the feeling, talking to Justine, that the focus is very much on listening to what young people want to know about, not telling them what to do.

A few days later I went over to see Wendy Smith and Alison Hogan running a stall in Redhill High Street for the Surrey Chlamydia Screening programme. This programme aims at testing around 1500 people in the 16-24 age group per month in an attempt to reduce the numbers infected with the most common bacterial STI. The test is free and requires a swab or urine sample and results come through in a couple of weeks. More details are on the Screening Programme website.

I admire the experimental approach to engaging with young people about sexual health in a shopping centre setting – several people came and took test kits away in the short time that I was there. I think though that the helium balloons, bacteria-shaped stress balls and jelly beans caught the eye of more toddlers and pre-teens than the target audience :)

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Julia Bott talks about her rehab class

Julia runs a series of Pulmonary Rehab classes for people with COPD. Here she talks about what motivates her and what she’s learned about how people feel about living with breathing difficulties. Most importantly she emphasises that you only get out of a class what you’re prepared to put in.

Watch out half way through for guest appearances from several energetic members of Julia’s class :)

Val Dawson – Her experience of pulmonary rehab

Here’s a video interview I did with Val when we visited the Pulmonary Rehab class. I asked her to tell us a little about what living with her disease was like before coming to the classes, what the classes were like for her and how things have improved as a result.

I’ve cut the video down to the three and a half minutes, but we actually talked for more like ten. So I’ve made a podcast out of the audio from our chat so that you can hear more of the details of what Val had to say.

Val Dawson (00:09:50 3.37MB)

Either save the podcast to your computer by right clicking on the link or just click normally to play the file here.

What is COPD?


Julia Bott is a Consultant Physiotherapist working in Surrey. We went to visit one of her Pulmonary Rehab classes and were treated first of all to a simple explanation of what COPD is and what’s going on inside the lungs. Whenever I watch it, I can’t help but sit up straight, breathe deeply and be grateful that I can fill my lungs easily.

The members of the class, while all having some breathing difficulties, were eager to impress on us the recovery that they’ve achieved through simple exercises complementary to their clinical treatments. There’ll be more of them here soon, but the trouble was not getting them to talk on camera, but getting them to stop talking once they’d started!

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which, as Julia explains covers a group of diseases such as chronic asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is most frequently associated with people who have smoked, though it appears that there are also genetic factors and at least one member of the class said his illness was asbestos-related.

NHSDirect has an introductory article that goes into more detail.

Keep Young and Beautiful

Many of the people I spoke to on Falls Awareness Day emphasised prevention, independence and the importance of regular exercise in helping to maintain mobility. We saw a couple of exercise classes for older people in action on the day. Firstly Joanna Payne and her helpers gathered a group of volunteers from Guildford High Street into the Guildhall. Here they are grooving to Simon & Garfunkel. Joanna leads classes across Waverley Borough (Farnham, Godalming and Haslemere) and can be contacted on 01252 718089.

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At the end of the day and when we were probably too tired to know better, Penny and I joined in another class provided in conjunction with Elmbridge Council at the Claygate Centre. This is a new class which will run every Tuesday from 2.15pm – 3.15pm at the Centre. To register or to find out more information please call Liz Patroe on 01372 227300.

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Yes, we fully took part in the class ourselves too – there’s some photographic evidence of it on the Surrey PCT photostream. Some of the photos might make it look a bit strenuous but you shouldn’t let that put you off – everyone who warmed up and down properly had no problem doing these exercises, it was only the younger, cockier ones (well, me actually) that could hardly walk the next day.

Karen Turner, OT with a van


Before we left St Peter’s on Falls Awareness Day Karen Turner, one of the Occupational Therapists, gave me a quick tour of the contents of her white van and I got to see lots of the equipment that people had been talking about all day including a Perching Stool and buried deep, lots of sticks (with nice new ferrules).



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