Tag Archives: Health

Music Therapy……

11 Dec

‘Special Post – Music is the theme tune to our lives but what if that life suddenly changed……’


Introduction

Music Therapy is available on the NHS but it is very limited predominantly due to costs. Homeopathy receives more funding even though it has been proven to act only as a placebo. In the increasing privatisation by stealth of the NHS the funding will only go down. The areas in which it proves most useful receive proportionately higher spending cuts than other treatments.

 

What is Music Therapy?

As its name suggests it is a method of delivering beneficial therapy to many groups, often subconsciously. Music is the soundtrack of our lives and we recall events when we hear a song or piece of music that was pertinent to a particular time. The number one single when you met your future wife, had your first kiss or the holiday resort you stayed at when the same tune was played over and over in your favourite bar. So, what makes it such a valuable tool in therapy?

 

Groups for Whom Music Therapy is Beneficial

Children and adults with physical or learning disabilities:

Music Therapy is inclusive and can benefit both groups. They enjoy singing and playing percussive instruments. For example: using a simple song with repetitive verses makes it easy for non-readers to learn very quickly. For example; I have used “If I had a Hammer” because it can be conveyed in simple diagrams. What do we do with hammers? We hammer. When? In the morning, then in the evening and

everywhere. The simple formula moves on to a bell which we ring; again in the morning etc. This can be easily adapted for people who may not be able to sing or bang percussive instruments. This is done with movement. If I had a wheelchair I’d spin around in the morning etc. The art is to adapt to the needs of the people you are working with. Subconsciously, reading skills are improved, co-ordination skills improve and most rewarding of all are the smiles and laughter Music Therapy can bring……

 

Elderly people and those with dementia:

As previously mentioned, music is strongly connected to memory. Here is a lovely story from a friend who sadly lost their Mum to Alzheimer’s disease. Long after Mum no longer recognised her own relatives they would take a CD player and play her favourite tunes. She would dance with a smile always present. I cannot begin to imagine how frightening it must be to not know where you are or who the strangers that help you to dress are, but the comfort the family and Mum got are incalculable and again linked to the soundtrack of her life……

 

Hospice care:

To have a child with an incurable illness in the latter stages of life is simply heart breaking. If that terrible period is remembered with the most happiness achievable, once the numbness and grief gets easier, it is a gift that is worth more than all the material wealth in the world. If I can re-write a favourite song to include that child’s name or, better still, asks an artist to record a personal message, a happy memory of a sad time may help, just a little……

 

Making it Happen……

I have experience in Music Therapy which fell by the wayside many years ago when dreams of fame and fortune took over. Since then I have endured some difficulties of my own from which I am thankfully recovering. I have re-evaluated what is important to me and what is unnecessary ‘globalised consumerism’, reaching the conclusion that happiness is not linked to the size of your house or your new car. Happiness can be found in our humanity; something we are losing as we live in an homogenous iPhone bubble……

Imagine yourself, as best you can, in one of the situations laid out above. Suddenly a smile or laughter has much more meaning. I am doing this voluntarily but I need your help. A portable electric piano and a few percussion instruments is all I need. Cost? Around £200 to £250. It’s a drop in the ocean if one or two pounds, or the odd change in PayPal accounts comes from many small donations. Open accounts will be kept and if more is raised than is needed, it will be given back equally to anyone who makes a donation……

Please help if you can.

My PayPal account is – steve.tproject@gmail.com

My friends will happily pass on any cash donations

 

Vishnu Video Productions will be following the story and including it in the “Made in Lincoln UK” magazine program on YouTube……

Thank you

Steve Walker – The Dripping Tap……

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Ebola – Epidemics and Academics……

19 Nov

‘Epidemics have the potential to spread around the world killing millions. In 1918 a Flu pandemic infected 500 million people, killing 100 million. Cholera still infects 3 to 5 million people every year. So how much of a threat is Ebola to western nations and how many of us could die…..?’

Ebola is a cruel disease on many levels. Due to the highly infectiousEbola_Virus nature of Ebola the dying are denied the comfort of human contact in their final hours. With affected areas only 24 hours travel from almost anywhere in the world, what are the chances that Ebola could become a pandemic and kill thousands or possibly millions…..?

Estimates of the eventual death toll vary hugely and they are not just ‘stab in the dark’ best guesses. They come from well established models by Epidemiologists but how accurate are they and why do the figures quoted differ so much? Like all predictive models they rely on many variables and the more variables, the more room for errors. For an example; weather forecasts rely on thousands of measurements ranging from hi tech satellite data to simple daily rainfall and temperature measurements; some collected automatically, some by a dedicated army of volunteers. All of the data is then input into one of the most powerful computers in the UK and a forecast is produced. So why do they always seem to get it wrong? Despite the computing power and the accuracy of the models, the shear number of variables make the algorithms extremely complicated, leading to errors.

Ebola_Victim_01Fortunately, modeling the potential spread of Ebola has fewer variables which should mean the predictions are more accurate, so why do the experts opinions vary widely? Epidemiology is well studied and founded on past and current models built upon data collected during and after outbreaks of infectious diseases. In theory having fewer variables requires a less complicated algorithm, so what is having such a major effect on the predicted outcomes? The answer is the degree and urgency of the intervention.

Estimates of the death toll caused by Ebola vary from 700,000 in 2016 as the outbreak ends (confined to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone), to as many as 12 million (unconfined and on an unknown timescale). This is where the speed and scale of the response matters so much. If the action taken by charities, governments and is rapid and proportionate, there could be a reasonably swift resolution. If, however, the response is too slow, the outbreak will spread to neighboring countries as fear increases and has the potential to reach previously unaffected areas, requiring a much greater effort to contain and eradicate it.

The current situation is beginning to stablize but unless the promises of help don’t arrive soon, we could be facing a very different outcome.

To end on a political note, in comparison, when wars begin we seem able to arrange huge logistical operations at the drop of a hat. In West Africa the body count started to mount months ago but the response has only just begun. Only time will tell if it is too little, too late……

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Computers Don’t Have Feelings……

15 Nov

Computers do a wonderful job of adding up & the practical offshoots of that ability, but they are unemotional & dehumanise friendships. I must have 50 friends who I know personally, not just ‘friends’ I’ve competitively collected but, there are only 2 whoever bother to call me. This couldn’t be more clearly demonstrated than when I posted a rant & people thought I was going to kill myself. How many friends called me? One; & that was only because after a lot of private messages between my friends that someone asked ‘If you’re that worried call him’, which only goes to prove my point. If a picture paints a thousand words a conversation is worth more than all the text, emails & Facebook messages put together… When did you last call your friend, just to say ‘Hi, how are you’…?

 

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Psychotropic Snake Oil……

7 May

‘The Income of the pharmaceutical industry is huge. Much of that income comes from the drugs used to treat mental health. The chances are that at some point in your life you may be prescribed one of these drugs. If you thought that psychiatric medicine is based on sound scientific principles, think again and read on……’

 

Diagnosing Mental Health Illness……dsm5

Unlike any other area of medicine, mental health cannot be diagnosed through a blood, urine or any other scientific test. It is based on the way in which you answer the doctor’s questions and upon the way you are feeling. This is of course subjective. The range of human emotions is wide and covers the elation of child birth through to the sadness of bereavement and everything in between. In many cases there are multiple choice questionnaires, which can be found online. They contain questions such as “I feel sad”, with answers ranging from; not very often, once or twice each month, twice per week and every other day. Try one for yourself online and even if you are perfectly contented with your life you may discover that you have depression, anxiety or even bi-polar disorder (The pharmaceutical industry are often behind ‘self diagnosis’ websites in order to prompt a visit to the GP). The only other element in the diagnosis is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM), which categorises and matches your ‘symptoms’ with a known mental health disorder. With each new edition of the DSM come new diagnoses. In the DSM I, published in the 1950s, there were 106. The latest edition, DSM V, lists over 300……

 

Once you have a Diagnosis……

Before the 1950s talking therapies were the main way of treating mild to moderate mental health illness. More severe conditions such as Psychosis usually led to hospitalisation, possibly Electro-Convulsive Therapy and even surgical Lobotomy. Contemporary treatments usually involve the prescription of Psychotropic drugs. These fall into many categories but all are thought to affect Neurotransmitters, the main ones being Serotonin and Noradrenalin, although no one really knows how or why they work.

So, supposing you have suffered the bereavement of a long term partner and are feeling down, a little lost and have difficulty concentrating and sleeping. Then you are feeling what humans have felt since time immemorial, however, your doctor may well tell you that you have depression and, after a 15 or 20 minute consultation, you leave with a prescription for an antidepressant; a powerful psychotropic drug with potentially deadly side effects……

 

pills1Developing and Testing Psychotropic Drugs……

After initial laboratory tests for toxicity etc, human trials begin. They often last a maximum of eight weeks; some only four. They are only tested against a placebo and not any other drug. Providing the side effects are moderate in the test group which consists of carefully chosen, healthy people, they can be approved for public use. At this point the public become the guinea pigs, sometimes with devastating consequences……

 

Antidepressants and Suicide……

There are hundreds of well documented cases of people visiting their GP at a difficult time in their life, being prescribed antidepressants and committing suicide within days of starting their medication; remember these are powerful psychotropic drugs. But surely this would have been noticed in the trials? Not if the results are manipulated by interested parties; namely, the pharmaceutical industry that test them. Altering statistics is easy; when trialling the drug you simply leave out the question “Did this medication make you feel suicidal?” We are so used to answering multiple choice questionnaires that clever questioning can return either positive or negative answers depending on how the question was asked, that is, if it was asked at all. They may not make someone who is in perfect health feel that way but if you have been under stress and have a low mood, as in the example given earlier, they can have a far more powerful effect……

 

A Conflict of Interests……seven-pharma-logos-300x200

Any regular readers of my blog will be well aware of the close relationships that exist between industries, regulators, politics and money. It used to be called corruption; paying for politicians’ VIP days out, lobbying and making large donations to political parties. But it seems laws and ethics only apply to the likes of you and I. The pharmaceutical industries are more than happy to pay huge grants to fund research at universities; the same universities that the Psychiatrists who write favourable papers for medical journals work at. Doctors require patients and patients require diseases; diseases that require drugs to treat them. You get the point……

 

Finally……

There are some people with mental health issues that may benefit from medication, but they should be closely monitored and the cause of their distress identified and dealt with alongside medication. Unfortunately, an NHS with limited resources are not able to deliver a high enough standard of care, especially when it comes to talking therapies, so a large group of people get left on medication to numb the pain; medication whose side effects have never been tested beyond a few weeks and what long term damage they may do is an ongoing trial, one in which you may be taking part……

DT_Triangle_Banner‘I am still awaiting a reply to my letter to the Foreign Secretary but I’ll let you know when I do (see previous post “Correspondence with the Government”)……’

 

The Impotence of Our NHS……

7 Apr

‘First and foremost I must stress that there are many caring and hard overworked professionals working for our NHS (NB: OUR NHS, not THE NHS). It will come as no surprise that the problems lie with a group of technocrats who see anything and everything as a business opportunity, including wars, poverty and our health……’

 

Compartmentalisation……

 

Opening services up to ‘competitive’ tendering, or the lowest bidder as you or I would call it, does nothing to improve a patient’s experience or smooth their journey through the system. In practice it may seem like a good idea but without implementing efficient communication protocols leaves the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. This is particularly damaging for mental health and welfare services and, furthermore, it is potentially dangerous as the patients who need these services are often the least able to negotiate the system when breakdowns occur, and they frequently do……

 

Healthcare Tennis……

 

It may have taken 77 years for a Brit to win Wimbledon but the NHS are world class champions at ‘health’ tennis. GPs refer patients to secondary, probably outsourced service who return serve by referring them back. In the mixed doubles version of ‘health’ tennis it becomes more akin to a game of squash, where patients feel they are bounced around until dizziness, or a lack of a diagnosis causes them to collapse and die. The coroner’s report with doubtless score the game as ‘Deuce’; possibly Advantage to the Chancellor……

 

Tapping the Virgin Oil……

 

The first press holds the most value in the world of Olives just as it does in healthcare. Simply cream off the conveyor belt the in and out 10 minute cases and listen to the tills ringing. Refer the ‘second press’ that requires filtering to tennis association……

 

The Benefit of Hindsight……

 

Take a look at every business or industry that has been privatised, which is what is happening to the NHS by stealth, and ask one simple question; is it more efficient, cheaper, convenient and customer friendly? Gas, Electricity, Phones, Railways, Water [ad infinitum]; none of these have returned competitive prices, improved customer services or, for that matter, any benefit that is apparent to most of us. They have delivered higher share prices, dividends and ‘gifts’ to their friendly MPs, who after loosing their seats and spending a couple of years quietly enjoying the fruits of their labour, end up as ‘consultants’, ‘honouree boards members’ and ‘directors without portfolio’, paid for doing absolutely nothing……

 

Your Government does not care about you, your health, wellbeing or quality of life. They are, with a few exceptions like Dennis Skinner and the late Tony Benn, a den of thieves and it is high time the public revolted and the re-appearance of ‘Madam Guillotine’ took centre stage. I’m perfectly happy to apply for the job of ‘rope cutter’ should it become available……

 

Political Jargon Decoded……

 

Looking forwards:     We have failed miserably and done nothing…

Public Enquiry:          By the time this is over everyone will have forgotten…

In the next Parliament:         Empty promises to get us re-elected…

People who want to work hard and get on:          As opposed to the millions who want to do nothing and not get on? (I’ve yet to meet one)

 

The Manifesto in a Nutshell…..

 

One: We will reduce welfare (most of which goes to retired and working people) but we’ll give the impression it’s unemployed people who don’t want to work.

 

Two: We’ll tackle immigration. Give the appearance that all of the country’s problems are caused by those pesky foreigners.

 

Three: There is no three…

Euthanasia……

5 Apr

The debate carries on; people continue to suffer……

 

People who find themselves in a position with only one prognosis, whether imminent or in the future, will doubtless be in turmoil. Their thoughts will be for their loved ones rather than for their own predicament, a measure of the bravery shown by many. However, nobody could possibly think less of them for looking inward and thinking about themselves and, those who really care, should, make that known. If they decide that they wish to end their suffering, any caring person who has thought deeply about euthanasia must surely agree with self determination, even if it is at odds with their own personal view or belief.

The person requesting euthanasia has most likely suffered enough.  But to be faced with lengthy legal proceedings, to ensure their loved ones are protected and their wishes are honoured, can only make a difficult and tragic situation even harder for all concerned.

The arguments that legalised euthanasia could leave vulnerable people at risk from some ‘sinister’ party with an interest in getting rid of them, should be immediately apparent to any court.  To deny clear cut cases carte blanch only inflicts further suffering and, I believe, insults the people who have given their request a great deal of contemplation and ask only that their wishes are respected and acted upon, more often than not with the full support of their families.

Legal euthanasia is clearly needed; demonstrated by the number of cases that reach the High Court.  There would not be a sudden tidal wave of people asking for euthanasia but, currently, for the people who have made this difficult choice, please let’s not prolong their suffering with legal nit picking and a parliament who act like a rabbit caught in the headlights whenever euthanasia is debated.

Euthanasia should be made legal and could be easily implemented, with safeguards put in place, ending peoples’ suffering.  Life is precious and euthanasia a difficult choice for anybody to make.

Our political representatives act with much less caution when deciding to wage unnecessary wars which murder thousands of innocent people, so a little more humanity is needed in the euthanasia debate.

Until such time arises and we catch up with countries like Switzerland, The Netherlands, Mexico and Ireland, if you feel strongly enough that you too would want to have self determination, search for and download an Advance Directive.  This will designate a proxy to carry out your wishes and stand as an advocate to your personal wishes, regardless of the inadequate legislation.

I have personal experience of a family member with a terminal illness and, although euthanasia would not have been their choice, faced with the same circumstance, It would have been mine……

 

The lengthy legal process started by the late Tony Nicklinson is still ongoing for other people with the support of Jane Nicklinson, whose love and bravery stands as a testament to difficult issues raised in this article……

A Race to the Bottom……

26 Nov

Old People for Sale……

As part of the Governments’ efficiency drive, and after much opposition from healthcare professionals, patient groups and cross parliamentary groups, it passed legislation to tender £6 billion worth of NHS contracts.  These range from IT to out of hours services and district nursing.  And are the companies bidding for the lucrative contracts specialists?  No many are not.  Like the company which carries out Work Capability Assessments, Atos, who are French IT company.  The evidence so far does not look good especially if you happen to be unlucky enough to be a patient whose care falls under one of these groups……

Secretary of State for Health

Secretary of State for Health

One of the companies now responsible for delivering care for the NHS is Serco, a name which you may be familiar with, but not for healthcare.  Serco is failing to meet targets in Suffolk.  The company took on the £140 million contract to run community healthcare services last Autumn.  It has had issues with a “performance notice” and a review into potential safety issues has been launched.  According to unpublished figures from the BBC, Serco’s community intervention teams are failing to meet urgent four-hour response targets for nurses, carers and therapists to reach patients at home.  It was also failing to meet non-emergency 72-hour targets.  The report, by clinical commissioners in Suffolk, also reveals delays in producing care plans for palliative patients and carrying out health assessments for children in care.  The Chief Officer of the East and West Suffolk Commissioning Groups, Julian Herbert, said Serco has until the end of the year to meet the eight performance targets, or face fines in early 2014, although this will come as little comfort for any loss of life or serious injury to the patients to whom it was responsible.

Serco gave the usual responses we have come to expect; they are in ‘a transitional stage’, ‘lessons are being learned’ and ‘they are seeking to recruit extra staff’.

The Government is sticking to its mantra that ‘commissioning services from outside of the NHS will deliver better quality of care for the patients and value for money for the tax payer’.  Well, at least half of that statement is accurate.  Can anybody name a government contract that has delivered both better standards and value for money?  Email me if you can think of one.  Out of all of the Government’s initiatives, activities, confidence tricks; call them what you will, this is particularly distasteful as it is peoples’ health that is risk.  Health is the one area which should be sacrosanct and any politician that says it is unaffordable is quite simply lying but here again I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that the Government is there for the good of the masses rather than to line the pockets of the chosen ones……

Power for the People……

It has come to light, if you’ll excuse the pun, that Britain is in need of a considerable amount of new power stations.  This is manly due the old ones having reached the end of their lives; gas, coal and nuclear alike.  Surely this fact has been known about for some time, and when I say ‘some’ time, I mean 30 years.  Therefore, when the industry was privatised, the cost of building new, and decommissioning old ones, should have been factored into the equation.  After all one would not expect the newly privatised Royal Mail to come to the House of Commons in 15 years time and expect all of their lorries replaced at the tax payers cost?

This appears to be what has happened with the ‘big 6’ energy companies, and now they are seriously expecting us to foot the bill for some shiny new power stations so they continue to sell electricity to us at an astronomically inflated price……

Secretary of State for Energy

Secretary of State for Energy

There has even been talk of the lights going out!  This sounds like the rhetoric of the 1970’s and the 3 day week.  Ahh, but what about all of those big windmills that have appeared mainly in Labour held constituencies and paid for with a whacking great subsidy from your utility bill and huge tax ‘incentives’ for the energy providers.  Whether you think they’re pretty or not, they are next to completely useless.  The clue is in the name, W-I-N-D mills, for absent the cunningly hidden agenda power generation from each and every one requires a traditional backup.

The Government have agreed a deal with French owned EDF to build 2 new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point, Summerset, at a cost of £16 billion, however, they will not be operational before 2023.  They will be the first new power stations to have been built since 1995 and will be Carbon neutral.  Any dangerous nuclear waste will stored at Britain’s new underground storage facility which has not been build yet as it would appear no amount of bribery; a new community centre, amusement park, a few hundred new ‘affordable’ homes, that kind of stuff, is negated by the prospect of sharing your garden with spent Uranium fuel rods with a radioactive half life of 500,000 years……

Perhaps Serco could bid for the storage contract……?

Memo to self – Remember to buy some candles……

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