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High tech service helps cancer patients

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Macmillan’s Clinical Speech and Language Therapy Lead, Lisa Love-Gould: Explaining aspects of voice production and swallowing to Rebecca Evans

Macmillan’s Clinical Speech and Language Therapy Lead, Lisa Love-Gould: Explaining aspects of voice production and swallowing to Rebecca Evans

THE BENEFITS that a high-tech telemedicine service is bringing to cancer patients like Nigel Howells are obvious.

Being able to link up with specialist speech and language therapists based at Swansea’s Morriston Hospital without having to leave his hometown of Llanelli means a lot to Nigel, who was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer 18 months ago.

“It is much easier for me just to come down the road to Prince Philip. I don’t have to ask for a lift to Swansea so I don’t have to rely on anyone. It helps me stay independent,” said Nigel, who has had his voice box removed and now relies on using a surgical voice valve to help him speak.

At his regular appointments to check the valve, Nigel sits alongside his Speech and Language Therapist, Danna Jones, in a consulting room at Prince Philip Hospital. Using the video conferencing equipment, they can access expert advice from Specialist Speech and Language Therapist Sali Curtis in Swansea.

The outreach telemedicine head and neck project, funded by Macmillan Cancer Support, sees ABMU Health Board staff working closely with colleagues in neighbouring Hywel Dda to make specialist care more accessible for head and neck cancer patients living in rural West Wales.

Looking on as Nigel had his latest consultation with Sali was Gower AM Rebecca Evans, who visited the Speech and Language Therapy department at Morriston Hospital for a first-hand look at how the telemedicine service works.

“I found it absolutely fascinating. I now understand a lot more about the patients and the challenges they face and how this service benefits them,” she said.

“Seeing the consultation was really useful and I was so impressed by how at ease Nigel was at using telemedicine.”

Sali said: “The cameras are very high definition so when we are doing a consultation, they allow us to zoom in to see inside the windpipe if necessary so we know when Nigel needs to have a valve changed or if there are any problems.”

The outreach project aims to not only improve services for patients by bringing these specialist services closer to their home but also to improve the skills and knowledge of therapists from both Health Boards as they work together.

Besides Prince Philip, video conferencing clinics are now run at Withybush, Bronglais, and Aberaeron and Cardigan hospitals, and there are also regular training sessions using the video links.

Danna added: “Before the project, you could feel out on a limb but now this technology has given us access to second opinions and training. It has really helped develop my skills and my confidence.”

Alison Clarke, Head of the Speech and Language Therapy Service, said: “Innovative service developments such as this, with the access to training and support, are also helping us to recruit and retain excellent staff for ABMU and West Wales.

“We are looking to develop and train up more therapists like Danna. The use of technology to modernise services means we can provide exciting opportunities for the future.’’

Macmillan’s Clinical Speech and Language Therapy Lead, Lisa Love- Gould, added: “Three years ago, we couldn’t recruit and now we have built up a team of six. We are seeing a 20% increase year-on-year in head and neck cancer, so it is a vital service.”

But even though he says telemedicine has helped him manage his condition, Nigel admits there is one drawback of consultations happening via a monitor.

“You can’t give the girls a cwtch to say thanks at the end of it,” he joked.

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Carmarthenshire’s sensory garden: why locals should embrace this wellness trend

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WITH ‘#sensorygarden’ 499.1k views on TikTok – locals have the advantage of experiencing a sensory garden on their doorstep at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Wildlife experts explain why you should visit.

Wildlife expert Sean McMenemy shares how sensory gardens can do wonders for our wellness whilst providing a safe haven for wildlife and encourages Carmarthenshire locals to visit their local sensory garden this autumn.

A sensory garden is an outdoor space that stimulates the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, and can be created in your own garden. Sensory gardens at home remain relatively rare, but the trend is growing with the TikTok hashtag ‘#sensorygarden’ amassing 499.1k views*. 

Carmarthenshire, dubbed the Garden of Wales, has a huge array of beautiful green spaces to explore. It’s home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales which spans a huge 568 acres, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The stunning Great Glasshouse features a sensory trail that explores the largest single-span greenhouse in the world! From fluffy flowers from South Africa to a strongly scented Australian plant, it’ll engage all your senses. 

Having recently gifted King Charles with a beautiful oak sapling, the National Botanic Garden of Wales care deeply about the nation’s natural heritage. For those visiting the garden, the paths are wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on site. Open 10am – 6pm every day of the week.

Wildlife expert and founder of bird food provider Ark Wildlife, Sean McMenemy, explains the benefits of sensory gardening: “Sensory gardens provide a great deal of physical and mental benefits for different people and purposes. From getting vitamin D from sunlight to improving physical fitness by maintaining a garden, there are several physical benefits. Mentally, you can benefit from a mood boost and relaxation by spending time surrounded by calming stimulation.

“Sensory gardens can also have huge benefits for children, older people, those with learning disabilities and those who struggle with their physical and mental health. You can also create a sensory garden for your pets and garden wildlife!”

Top tips for creating your own sensory garden

If you do have the outdoor space, creating your own sensory garden is therapeutic in itself and doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The most important thing is to ensure that the garden engages all five senses. 

Melody Estes, landscape design gardening supervisor, says: “Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned pro, you can always improve your garden by adding some sensory elements.” 

Here are some tips from Melody for creating a sensory garden:

Sight – Plant colourful flowers that change with the seasons.

Sound – If you have a fountain or water feature on your property, consider adding some relaxing music to play alongside it. You could also place chimes near your front door to welcome people in.

Smell – Use scent. Consider planting scented flowers or herbs like lavender, rosemary and thyme that will give off a lovely aroma when they bloom.

Touch – Mix textures. The texture of plants can be as important as their colour and shape. Try using plants with soft leaves like ferns or grasses that are texturally different.

Taste – Planting herbs, fruits and vegetables not only provide tasty treats, but is a sustainable source of food.

Sean McMenemy adds: “Sensory gardens are an easy way to engage with wildlife and the outdoor environment. Growing your own plants and vegetables provides countless ways to learn about the natural world.

“You can bring your sensory garden to life by using bird feeders to attract beautiful feathered friends into your garden. They’ll bring the sound element to your sensory garden naturally. Fragrant flowers will attract colourful butterflies and other pollinators to your garden, giving you something to observe whilst helping nature to thrive.”

Some people may not have the time, money or space to create their own sensory garden. However, those with balconies and window ledges can still plant colourful, sweet-smelling flowers and edible plants. This mini sensory garden can still provide the benefits and satisfaction of an outdoor garden.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales

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THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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Carmarthenshire farmer dies following attack by bull near Llandeilo

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A FARMER has died following an incident with a bull on a farm in Llandeilo.

The 58-year-old, named locally as Maldwyn Harrier, was attacked by the animal during a TB test on Friday morning.

Police have confirmed that they were called to a farm in the Penybanc area of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, and are investigating alongside the Health and Safety Executive. 

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