Category Archives: Health & Wellbeing News

Staying Well telephone befriending service for adults in Calderdale

The Staying Well Hub Team are reminding everyone you that they are still available to listen to your concerns and help you make sense of what is happening. Whatever you are dealing with, they would like to hear from you. Help is always at hand.

The telephone befriending service is how the Staying Well Team can be contacted during the COVID-19 period.

As face to face may not be an option for a while, this service offers a more personal contact to people struggling with isolation.

Staying Well Telephone Befriending Service

Isolation has never been such a concern and risk as it currently is but a chat with a Volunteer Befriender can make all the difference to someone who is lonely.

Right now they are working with volunteers to provide a Staying Well Telephone Befriending Service for adults in Calderdale who want someone to talk to regularly or just want to to hear a friendly voice. And they have volunteers from across Calderdale who can speak a variety of different languages! This service aims to match clients with volunteers who have similar interests and common ground, aiming to offer a listening ear to those who feel isolated.

If this sounds like what you’re after, ring 01422 392767 to make a referral or visit the Staying Well website to fill out the referral form. Individuals can refer themselves.

In order to refer someone you will need their consent. All volunteers must go through the safeguarding process run by Calderdale council and the entire process is closely monitored to ensure everyone’s safety.

For more information visit the Staying Well Telephone Befriending service page

Healthy Minds: Service update from mental health charity

Healthy Minds is the working name of Calderdale Wellbeing, a mental health charity based in Halifax.  Here’s highlights from their latest newsletter, with a link to download the full document at the end.

Visit Healthy Minds website here.

Many people feel anxious about changes to lockdown restrictions and continued uncertainty about what the future looks like. Covid-19 is a life-changing event that affects everyone, and we all have questions to which there aren’t necessarily answers.

Our services are still running as much as possible, with staff continuing to work from home for the time being, until it is deemed safe and responsible for people who come to us for support, as well as staff and  volunteers. Our premises remain closed for now but the team has been as busy as ever.

Outdoor activities
We are looking at some outdoor activities, our allotments and walking groups, becoming available during August / September, when we are confident that this can be done safely. There will  be restrictions on numbers and people will need to book places on these activities.

Indoor activities
We are not yet considering indoor activities, like drop-ins, support groups and visitors to our premises, including Safespace. These will continue to be available by telephone, text and online for the foreseeable future.

Our teams have been developing new workshops that will be delivered online. Safespace is available every evening and our volunteers have been offering telephone befriending, and this is developing into a new peer support service that will be up and running soon.

Text messaging
A new text messaging service is about to be launched, giving another way to get in touch – particularly important for people who don’t have internet access.

My thanks go to the Healthy Minds team for keeping going in tough circumstances: staff, volunteers and trustees have been pouring time and energy into doing as much as we can rather than brooding over what we can’t. This goes for the other local organisations with which we work, including Calderdale Council, Clinical Commissioning Group and VSI Alliance. Thanks too to people and groups who have given their support to Healthy Minds: Hebden WI, staff at Covea Insurance, and individuals have been raising funds in all sorts of ways, for which we are always honoured and grateful. It’s working together – protecting and supporting each other – that will get us  through this and, as I hope the above shows, there is plenty of that about in Calderdale.

Jonny Richardson Glenn, Chief Officer

Download Full Newsletter (PDF)

Gentle walks for fitness with CREW Heart Support Group

CREW Newsletter: Gentle Walks For Fitness

The Pulse Bulletin is the newsletter of CREW, the local groups who promote Cardiac Rehabilitation through walking. Each newsletter introduces their hub exercise instructors and walk leaders, has healthy recipes, walks and useful information.

Starting this August, they are running small group, pre-booked walks and self guided walks and, as ever, they are great people to turn to if you want to improve your physical fitness through gentle exercise.

Dates below including booking deadlines.

Tuesday the 11th August – leaving at 10am – from the carpark on Luddenden Lane
Book by 7th August.
Tuesday 18th August – leaving at 10am – from the carpark in Warley Village.
Book by 14th August.
Tuesday 25th August – leaving at 10am – from the Shelf Hall Park carpark, Bridle
Stile, Shelf.
Book by 21st August.

For full details of these walks, exercise classes and more, download The Pulse Bulletin here

30 million people to receive flu vaccine this winter

The UK Government have announced an expanded flu vaccination programme, including free vaccinations for people aged 50 to 64 later in the year.

The most comprehensive flu vaccination programme in the UK’s history was announced by the government on Friday 24 July. A significant new group will be eligible for the free flu vaccine as people aged 50 to 64 will be invited later in the season for a vaccination. As part of an unprecedented drive, a free flu vaccine will also be available to:

  • people who are on the shielded patient list and members of their household
  • all school year groups up to year 7
  • people aged over 65, pregnant women, those with pre-existing conditions including at-risk under 2s.

Once vaccination of the most ‘at-risk’ groups is well underway, the department will work with clinicians to decide when to open the programme to invite people aged 50 to 64, with further details to be announced.

The NHS will contact people directly, including information about where to go to get the vaccine. The expanded flu vaccination programme is part of plans to ready the NHS – both for the risk of a second peak of coronavirus cases, and to relieve winter pressures on A&E and emergency care. Increased vaccinations will help to reduce pressure on the NHS this winter by preventing flu-sickness which can cause hospitalisation and even death.

The flu can be a serious disease, especially for vulnerable people or those with underlying health conditions.

Eligible groups are urged to get their free vaccine every year. However with COVID-19 still in circulation, this year’s campaign will be particularly vital to protect the most vulnerable and reduce the number of people needing flu treatment from the NHS.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, Head of Flu at PHE said:

The flu vaccine is the best defence we have against what can be a serious and even deadly illness.

This winter, more people than ever will be offered a free flu vaccine. We are urging anyone who is eligible to take up the offer of vaccination. By getting the jab, you can help protect yourself, your family and the NHS – it will help save lives.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and NHS medical director for primary care, said:

Getting a free NHS flu vaccination is a quick and simple way that people can help to save lives and reduce pressure on our hardworking frontline staff this winter.

GPs, nurses, community pharmacists and others will be going to great lengths this year to give this vital protection to millions more people in a safe and convenient way, so when the time comes I would urge everyone invited for a flu vaccination to get it as soon as possible.

All frontline health and social care workers will also be urged to get their free vaccine to protect themselves and their patients or residents from the flu.

The announcement of the flu vaccination programme expansion is part of the government’s plan to support the NHS and protect the public this winter.

The funding, which is available immediately, will allow the NHS to continue using additional private hospital capacity and maintain the Nightingale hospitals until the end of March.

This will provide additional capacity for COVID-19 patients should it be needed, and allow the NHS to carry out routine treatments and procedures.

Background information

PHE’s annual flu report quotes the total number vaccinated in 2019 to 2020 was 15,344,033. This covers over 65, those in clinical at risk groups, pregnant women, children aged 2 to 3, all primary school aged children, and healthcare workers.

Memory Lane Cafe – dementia support update

Following the coronavirus lockdown the last Calderdale Memory Lane café was held on the 14 March. But the team haven’t stopped – instead they have been busy concentrating on alternative support for people with dementia.

Memory Lane Cafes are based in Halifax and Sowerby Bridge and provide a dementia-friendly environment for people affected by dementia, other memory problems and isolation.  Under normal circumstances they always have a varied programme of games & crafts, information and support, cakes and conversation but instead their dedicated team of volunteers have been providing ongoing support:

Coronavirus support

  • Maintaining regular phone support for those members/volunteers that need it.  At the moment this is a core of around 20 people
  • Putting information, games, music videos from our regular Memory Lane musicians(Jed & Maggie and Tony Austin) on Facebook
  • Setting up a Facebook Messenger group for several  isolated members to be able to keep in touch with each other
  • Lending the Memory Lane stock of games, jigsaws, craft materials out to members to use at home
  • Providing shopping support for approx ten people
  • Arranging Meals on Wheels or ready-meals for people who generally rely on going to cafes for their meals (and their socialisation)
  • Planning a big party for an unspecified date in the future!!

The impact of what they’re doing includes:

  • Helping isolated people get through the lockdown with practical support (shopping etc.)
  • Lending games/DVDs etc gives people something to do (and something to talk about)
  • Valuable psychological/emotional support (face or voice)
  • Being available on the phone any time (so they also can talk through their anxieties -and putting regular reminders of their unconditional availability on their Facebook page
  • Giving couples living with dementia support/help when stuck at home devoid of outside stimulus (of cafes/support groups etc).

Chris Harvey, Secretary of Memory Lane Cafe Calderdale says:

“During this pandemic, it’s vital that we keep in touch with our members. They’re isolated in so many ways.  Strengthening relationships between members online or by phone through regular contact has helped to structure the day for people.  Simple “good morning” and “good night” messages between isolated members is really powerful.

“People living with dementia have lost their usual routines, which are so important to them. Many are just glad to her a familiar voice and know that someone is there for them if needed.

“We have encouraged people to develop their own coping skills such as learning to email, or improving their cooking abilities.  One of our members has even decided to write her autobiography.”

As soon as the Memory Lane Cafe’s reopen, we will post details here.


Get active: join the new campaign “We are undefeatable”

We Are Undefeatable is a campaign supporting people with health conditions to be active through the ups and downs, celebrating every little victory. The website is full of great ideas on how to get active, starting as slowly as you like, and feeling the mental and physical benefits, whatever your circumstances. Below are a few of the key messages from their website and you can also find lots of good ideas on their YouTube channel.


    Doing something you actually like means you’re far more likely to keep doing it. Try a few activities until you find the right thing for you.

    Moving more with friends, family members, and others can also help make things more fun.


    Each day, listen to your body and do what feels comfortable to you.

    Make the most of your good days. On your not-so-good days, you may need to do less. Small amounts of activity all add up.


    Don’t expect to see big differences overnight. Even small changes can have a positive impact on your health.

    For some people, aiming for ten minutes of activity a day can help them get started.


    Whether you are building movement into your day by doing things like taking the stairs or stretching from a seated position, or trying different activities like swimming, chair exercises, or Pilates, it’s all good for your health and wellbeing.

    To learn about activities that might work for you, visit their Ways to Move section.

Changing steroptypes about ageing

Here is a link to a short video from Calderdale Council on changes the adult social care team are making to support elderly people to stay active and in their homes.

In the video, Iain Baines, Director of Adult Social Care for Calderdale Council challenges the stereotype of fragile, vulnerable older people and talks about the simple changes carers can make to support people to stay independent by maintaining mobility and staying active.

View the video.

Follow the campaign – #ACTIVECDALE @ACTIVECDALE

July news from the Macular Society

The Macular Society’s July e-newsletter is now out and includes the following and more:

Patients urged to seek treatment, before it is too late
A new report has revealed more than a 70% reduction in new referrals and a high rate of missed appointments due to the coronavirus. 

Read more on why it is so important to get a quick diagnosis.

‘We desperately want to change the future for Matilda’
At just three and a half Matilda was diagnosed with macular disease at a routine eye test. In Macular Week, her family shared her story.

‘As scientists our ultimate aim is to make people’s lives better’
In Macular Week the society shared Matilda’s story. Matilda is just seven years old and her parents would so desperately like a cure in her lifetime. So, what progress is being made?

‘Exercise can slow or prevent vision loss, study finds”
A new study has found that exercise can slow or prevent the development of macular degeneration and may benefit other common causes of vision loss.  Read more…

Read the full newsletter here

How to manage depression during lockdown

For older people, living under lockdown and dealing with the subsequent fears caused by a global pandemic can lead to mental health conditions such as depression.

There are several ways people can try to manage pandemic-related fears, anxieties, and changes to prevent them from causing or worsening depression.

This really helpful article taken from the newsletter Medical News Today discusses depression, how the coronavirus pandemic may affect it, and ways to manage depression using at-home remedies, lifestyle tips, and medical treatments.

Older adults and people with chroinic or severe health conditions may be more impacted than others by the COVID-19 pandemic and its stresses.

Some of the fears and anxieties caused by a situation which is out of our control can become overwhelming. Negative thoughts or feelings that people associate with lockdown include:

  • uncertainty about the future
  • concern over limited resources
  • fear of infection or exposing others
  • worry about personal health and that of loved ones
  • feeling hopeless about things returning to normal
  • feeling helpless or frustrated by loss of control
  • fear of crowded places and difficulties social distancing.

Social isolation and loneliness can also cause a decline in mood and cognition.

A 2020 study suggests social disconnectedness in adults aged 57–85 years increases the risk of feeling isolated. This feeling may translate into more depression and anxiety symptoms.

Steps to manage depression

Tips for managing depression at home during lockdown may include the following:

Follow a healthy, daily routine

Following a lockdown routine or existing daily routines may help maintain some sense of time and structure. A routine may also make it easier to go back to a usual routine afterward.

During this time, it is best to try and keep physically active, eat a healthy diet, and quit bad habits, such as smoking and drinking.

Not following a routine also tends to make people more likely to adopt a lethargic lifestyle. Lethargy can increase negative thinking patterns and reduce self-care, such as personal hygiene and healthy eating patterns.

Stay informed without obsessing

Staying informed with trustworthy news sources may help increase feelings of control and reduce unnecessary anxieties.

Flooding oneself with coronavirus information, especially from unreliable sources, may cause anxiety and distress that can become overwhelming.

It may be helpful to try limiting news or social media intake to once or twice a day, or two 30-minute chunks, and only get information from credible sources.

Help support others

If it’s possible, helping others, especially people who need extra support, such as frontline workers, or getting involved in community opportunities, may help promote feelings of security, self-worth, control, and connectedness.

It may also be beneficial to amplify positive and hopeful stories on COVID-19.

Stay connected

Lockdown restrictions may make it difficult, but it is important to find ways to connect with family, friends, and co-workers.

While people with depression may avoid social interactions, studies show isolation or disconnectedness typically worsens depression.

During conversations with friends and family, it is a good idea to talk honestly and validate pandemic or lockdown-related fears and feelings.

Having strong, open social connections can also increase feelings of security and self-worth.

Practice relaxation techniques

Practices that promote relaxation, such as prayer, meditation, and some types of yoga, may reduce stress and improve feelings of self-worth and connectedness.

It may also be beneficial to start a gratitude journal to focus on positive thoughts.

A person may also try other relaxation or mindfulness techniques to help improve sleep.

Reach out for help

It is vital to reach out for help when negative emotions, thoughts, or physical symptoms interfere with everyday functioning or do not respond to lifestyle changes.

A person can start by talking to their doctor about their struggles and feelings. Doctors may be able to prescribe medications to help.

Many licensed psychologists are also offering secure telephone or virtual therapy appointments during lockdown.

Get outdoors

Spending time outdoors may reduce anxiety and stress, improve feelings of well-being and happiness, and improve mood.

Vitamin D supplementation, an abundant nutrient in sunshine, may also reduce depressive symptoms.

Most places do not have strict rules preventing people from being outdoors near their homes if they practice social distancing. But people must always make sure to follow specific health guidelines and advisories.

See more health & wellbeing links.

Read the latest lockdown rules to ensure you stay safe as the lockdown is relaxed.

Read the advice from 6 July if you are shielding.




New non-hormonal treatment for hot flushes in development

The distress of hot flushes and night sweats affects many menopausal women.   Research into a new non-hormonal treatment is underway with promising early results.

Menopausal hot flushes and night sweats affect around 80% of older women who are in the menopause and can cause significant distress, lasting many years.  While hormone replacement therapy is still the first line treatment, it is not suitable or desirable for everyone, especially women who have suffered or are at risk of certain types of cancer.

While there are plenty of non-hormonal treatments, there is no hard evidence of effectiveness.

Recent research reported by website Menopause Matters has shown that a chemical pathway in the body called Neurokinin B is involved in the development of hot flushes.  As Estrogen levels fall, this chemical reacts with an area of the brain to cause the sensation of extreme heat.

A possible treatment to reduce the impact of Nerokinin B has been identified and in a randomised, controlled trial over 12 weeks with menopausal women, significant improvements were seen in hot flush frequency, mood and quality of sleep, with no negative effects.

Further studies are required and are underway, but the possibility of an effective, safe non-hormonal treatment is a positive prospect for the future.

Read the full report.



Patients’ sight maintained five years after groundbreaking stem cell treatment

The Macular Society has reported on groundbreaking stem cell treatment for people with wet age-related macular disease.

Patients who were the first to receive a new treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) derived from stem cells in 2015 have maintained improvements in their vision five years on.

Five years since the trial started, eye-researcher Professor Pete Coffey has confirmed the patients have maintained the improvements in their vision.

Before receiving the treatment the first patient was reading at a speed of one and a half words per minute, but after the operation is able to read up to 80 words a minute. The second patient, who couldn’t read at all before the procedure, is now reading up to 50 words a minute.

Prof. Coffey said the results had far surpassed their expectations and after the UK eases out of lockdown they are ready to treat the next round of patients in the trial.

While it is currently being trialled in patients with wet AMD it is hoped that in the future it will could be used to treat dry AMD – and potentially other types of macular disease.

Find out more about the study and sign up to hear about research opportunities by completing the form at

NHS launches new online support for people with diabetes

Three new NHS services will allow people living with diabetes to manage their condition online during the coronavirus pandemic.

Recent findings show that people with diabetes, face a significantly higher risk of dying with COVID-19, but better management of the condition can help improve control and lead to better outcomes.

NHS investment in the technology means that patients, many of whom are older, will be offered advice on treatment and care, as well as training to adopt healthy behaviours on diet and exercise with a range of online videos and training available on each app.

This remote support will complement patients’ appointments, many of which have been going ahead throughout the pandemic, through video consultations or via telephone, and more recently in COVID protected areas.

People living with Type 1 diabetes can access the following technology now:

  • Digibete: Children and young people with Type 1 diabetes and their families will be able to use the DigiBete App and website for a wide range of awareness, education, training and support resources.
  • MyType1Diabetes: Adults with Type 1 diabetes can access the service directly by visiting, it includes videos and eLearning courses, to help people understand more about their Type 1 diabetes and increase their confidence in how to manage it.

People with Type 2 will be able to access the following from later this year:

  • Healthy Living for people with Type 2 diabetes: The platform provides users with the skills and knowledge to manage their Type 2 diabetes effectively, including advice on emotional and mental wellbeing, and helps users adopt and maintain healthy behaviours around diet and exercise.
  • Online appointments, routine discussions with GPs and a dedicated helpline for those treated with insulin are among a range of measures that the NHS has already adopted so that diabetes care can go ahead as normal. The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is also being delivered remotely using platforms such as Microsoft Teams to continue to help those at risk of Type 2 diabetes to reduce their risk.

The NHS Long Term Plan set out a range of action for the treatment and care of diabetes, including expanding the world-leading Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Programme so that 200,000 people a year could benefit and rolling out freestyle libre for people with Type 1.