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Huge increase in demand for rehabilitation services in Wales in past six months.

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A SURVEY by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) has found that 68% of its members in Wales reported an increase in demand for occupational therapy services and that 75% of its members in Wales feel as though they are unable to provide the necessary support to patients. The findings raise questions about the prospects of providing timely rehabilitation support, which is vital to people’s recovery from short term illnesses and the long-term management of health issues.

As the country begins to ‘live with COVID’, already overstretched, rehabilitation services have seen demand rocket over the past two years due to the COVID pandemic and are now seeing a further rapid increase in patients. The findings raise questions about the prospects of providing timely rehabilitation, for people recovering from short- and long-term illnesses, and need urgent support to live independently carry out their daily lives.

The survey, which over 550 occupational therapists working across the UK took part in, found that:

84% are supporting people whose needs have become more complex due to delayed interventions arising from the pandemic
82% of respondents noted increased demand for occupational therapy-led rehabilitation over the previous six months.
71% of respondents felt there were not enough OTs to meet demand.
66% of respondents reported difficulties in delivering rehabilitation services due to reduced access to facilities, suitable space and equipment.
50% are supporting people affected by Long Covid.

Commenting on the survey, RCOT Director of Practice and Innovation, Karin Orman said:

“It’s clear from this survey that rehabilitation services across Wales and the rest of UK are overloaded, with the vast majority of occupational therapists seeing a huge increase in demand and complexity of their caseload over the last six months alone. This simply isn’t sustainable and there isn’t a big enough workforce to currently meet demand.

“Across the UK, health and social care leaders need to invest more in rehabilitation services and drive the recruitment of more occupational therapists as a matter of urgency. Not in a few years but now. As leaders of rehabilitation services, occupational therapists are a vital part of the solution to getting through the backlog of people needing intervention. The maths is simple – the quicker people have access to rehabilitation services, the better their chances at getting back to doing the things they need and love to do.”

Russell George MS, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee of the Senedd said:

“The Health and Social Care Committee has recently undertaken a detailed inquiry into the impact of waiting times on people in Wales. We firmly believe that effective rehabilitation and reablement are vital to ensure that people can stay healthy after they have received their treatment.

“A key recommendation of the committee to the Welsh Government is that the Minister for Health and Social Services should set out what action is being taken to ensure that health boards are providing suitable venues for the delivery of services such as rehabilitation and occupational therapy both in hospitals, on the primary care estate, and in the community.

“We look forward to receiving the response of the Welsh Government.”

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Health

Paul Makin shortlisted for Community Nutrition Professional of the Year

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A DIETICIAN who has helped provide information and support for people in our communities, including those in care homes, needs your vote to win a national award.

Paul Makin, 37 from Gowerton, is a Lead Community Nutrition Support Dietitian, whose contribution and work is benefiting people in Carmarthenshire, has been nominated and shortlisted for Community Nutrition Professional of the Year by his colleagues at Hywel Dda University Health Board.

Paul was nominated for several reasons, one of which was his development of a self-screening for malnutrition by means of a QR code that leads patients to a nutrition webpage platform. The QR code provides the public, patients, and healthcare professionals with an easy digital resource that they can scan if they are concerned about their own or others nutritional status.

Paul has supported the team in piloting a virtual care home support service to enable the health board to reach care home patients during the height of the pandemic when access was restricted to these areas. Paul is also currently studying a master’s qualification and through this is developing a standard operating procedure for the community dietetics team within the health board. This will help the team, that works over four hospital sites.

With regards to his nomination Paul said “I was delighted to hear of my nomination, it was completely unexpected but greatly appreciated. I can’t thank the community dietetics team enough for all their hard work and contribution to supporting our quality improvement projects over the past two years. So, for me, this nomination reflects the efforts and involvement of our community teams across the sites. As a clinical lead entering a new health board, it’s reassuring to know, despite all the challenges experienced during COVID, that our hard work has been recognised. As a community service, we are working hard to improve patient flow to ensure that those with the greatest needs are receiving the care they need in a timely way.”

Victoria Prendiville, Deputy Head of Dietetics, said “Over the last year Paul has turned challenges into opportunities and has led our community team to develop innovative and inspiring quality improvement work. With all these projects Paul has a methodical and inclusive approach, he shows dedication and is a true change facilitator. As a service we are incredibly grateful for his ongoing commitment to patient care, service innovation and change, and his dedication to Dietetics. We are extremely proud of his achievements and those of the team around him.”

UK wide voting is now open until the 21st of July. Place your vote for Paul here (opens in new tab

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Health

Plan for Health and Wellbeing Centre submitted to Welsh Government

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AN AMBITIOUS plan for a new Health and Wellbeing centre in Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire, has been submitted to Welsh Government.

Hywel Dda University Health Board is proposing to enhance an integrated health and social care network of services for the Amman Gwendraeth area, which includes the construction of a new Health and Wellbeing Centre.

If approved, the centre will provide a base for health and care services for the benefit of local communities. The core clinical services will include two local GP practices (Cross Hands and Tumble Medical Partnership and Penygroes Medical Practice), along with a range of Community Health Services such as midwifery, health visiting, community nursing, therapy services, podiatry, and mental health.

These will be complemented with additional supplementary services, such as an Integrated Early Years Centre, which is a community-based service for families with children aged 0-12. There will also be audiology services, a community pharmacy, space for community events, library, as well as a refreshment area.

As part of the health board’s commitment towards to decarbonisation, and achieving net zero carbon by 2030, the design of the building includes a range of low/zero carbon technologies. These include the installation of photovoltaic panels, air source heat pumps, as well as the provision of charging points for electric vehicles.

Rhian Matthews, Hywel Dda UHB’s Integrated System Director for Carmarthenshire, said: said: “This exciting plan demonstrates the importance of delivering services as close to home as possible.

“This Outline Business Case (OBC) for Cross Hands Health and Well-being Centre is an ambitious plan that will not only be an asset for Cross Hands, but will benefit Carmarthenshire as a whole.

“This is the first OBC to be presented to Welsh Government since the submission of our Programme Business Case (PBC) earlier this year. Our PBC aims to secure a scale of investment never before seen in west Wales, in order to deliver our long-term health and care strategy ‘A Healthier Mid and West Wales: Our Future Generations Living Well’.”

Subject to Welsh Government approval, planning process and construction phase, the new centre would be built adjacent to the A48 and the new Cross Hands Business Park. It is scheduled to open in autumn 2025.

The full Outline Business Case for Cross Hands Health and Well-being Centre can be found here.

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Health

Give blood, save lives – Do something memorable this National Blood Donor Week

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THE WELSH BLOOD SERVICE is urging people to consider becoming blood donors to help save lives this National Blood Donor Week.

Over 350 blood donations are needed every day across Wales. The donations play a vital role in saving lives by supporting a range of treatments, from helping recovering accident victims and patients with blood cancers to supporting mothers and newborn babies during childbirth. 

The Welsh Blood Service supports 20 hospitals across the country and relies on donations from blood, platelet and bone marrow donors to help patients in need.

Supporting the call is 65-year-old Howard Provis, one of Wales’ longest serving donors with nearly 50 years of dedication to the service. Howard has been donating platelets since the age of 18 and has recently made his 1,000 th donation which has helped save the lives of thousands of people across Wales.

Encouraging more people to come forward following his own experience, Howard explains, “With a background in first aid and first responding, I have seen people in many situations that have required blood. For me being able to give blood or platelets has given some of those people a second chance to live or spend precious extra time with their families and friends.

“Tomorrow, it could be me that needs a blood or platelet donation, or my wife, family or a friend. The thought that my donation today could potentially save someone’s life tomorrow has inspired me to keep supporting the Welsh Blood Service.”

Speaking of Howard’s achievement Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service explains, “Howard is one of only a handful of donors to reach this incredible milestone, and his donations will have helped patients in need from hospitals across the whole of Wales.

“His commitment to helping others is truly inspirational, and we hope his story encourages others to start their own lifesaving journey this National Blood Donor Week.”

National Blood Donor Week is an opportunity for blood services across the UK to raise awareness of the lifesaving importance of blood donation and encourage those who have never donated to give it a go.

The week also incorporates World Blood Donor Day (June 14), a day of celebration and thanks to the thousands of people who give up their time freely to donate and help people in need.

Alan continues, “We must say a huge thank you to every single donor who has supported us over the past two years. It has been a challenging period, but the generosity of people across Wales has been unwavering.

“As our Service works towards a post-covid collection service, we hope more people will step forward and join our lifesaving team. Following changes to UK donation guidelines, more people than ever before can safely donate, which means there has never been a better time to give it a go.”

June 14 is also the one-year anniversary of the landmark changes introduced following the recommendations made by the FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) steering group.

These pioneering changes to donation rules have meant that all donors, regardless of gender, are now asked a set of questions, meaning that more people than ever before, including those from the LGBTQ+ community are potentially eligible to donate.

You can book your first or next blood donation appointment by visiting www.wbs.wales/nbdw22 and if you are 17-30, you can also consider signing up to the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

For those who cannot donate, you can still become a Welsh Blood Service supporter. 

Sharing their social media posts, encouraging your friends, family and colleagues to raise awareness of the importance of donating blood, platelets and bone marrow.

To learn more about donating blood, platelets and bone marrow, or to book, visit www.welshblood.org.uk.

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