Editor’s Letter: July Issue, 2020

Dear Neighbours,

I hope you are continuing to keep safe and well during these challenging times. Lockdown has certainly given me time to reflect on life and I am more appreciative of things, that I’ll admit, I previously took for granted. I’ve spoken before about life whizzing by in a blur, as I rush from one thing to another… school runs, work, my sons sporting commitments etc. When everything came to a complete halt, it was a shock and I initially struggled with the situation. However, this unexpected period has given me more quality time with my children than I’ve experienced in years. Walks with my dog became leisurely, rather than rushing to fit it in. Just having some time to sit and read or listen to music has been therapeutic. And most importantly, time to reflect and count my blessings, of which there are many. As restrictions gradually lift and we adjust to a new ‘normal’, I’m determined to take the lessons I’ve learnt from this situation and move forward with an enhanced level of appreciation.

We’ve all had to adapt to a new way of living; the lack of sport for my sons and social interaction has been a real concern, but I’m proud of how they have adjusted. One son has actually become my own personal fitness instructor (and he’s a hard task master!). I needed it after weeks of binge-watching Netflix! Being active is essential for mental wellbeing, as discussed in our health article ‘Get Moving For Mental Health’; page 12.

If you’ve spent time making your outdoors look great, it’s time to enjoy the benefits with our gadgets for summer days and evenings; page 26.

We take a look at upcoming car features that could transform the way we drive; page 34. We also have advice on protecting your money with a Lasting Power of Attorney and Will; page 40.

And finally, with our recipes, book recommendations and puzzles, we have lots this issue to keep you busy! Until next month…


Northamptonshire Health Charity: Raise A Cuppa To Say Thank You

The first weekend in July will be marked by a minute’s silence in memory of all those who have lost their lives and a national moment of appreciation for the social connections that have kept the country going through such adversity, when we can all raise a glass, or a cup of tea in a nationwide offer of thanks and appreciation.

It will be an opportunity to thank not just NHS staff and other essential workers, but all those who continue to work so hard to support each other and sustain our communities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Join in on Sunday 5th July to mark the 72nd anniversary of the founding of our NHS. Why not have your own virtual tea party at home while video-calling your family and friends and send us your pictures? We’d love to share as many pictures as we can on our website and social media pages to mark this special day.

On 5th July, Northamptonshire Health Charity will be raising a cuppa to all the local NHS staff we support across Northamptonshire and to our incredible supporters and donors in the local community who have helped raise £190,000 to make such a huge difference to them and the services they provide.

It’s a perfect excuse to enjoy a nice cuppa and a piece of cake (healthier snacks can be substituted, of course), give recognition to the incredible national institution that the NHS is and give thanks for everything it has done and continues to do for us all during these difficult times.

So, get your kettles on, bake your own cakes, dial up your relatives for a chinwag and take some snaps as you all raise a cuppa – to yourselves, to all those helping and to our wonderful NHS on its birthday.

You can still support Northamptonshire Health Charity’s COVID-19 appeal at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/COVID-19NHCF

Contact the charity t: 01604 626927, e: greenheart@nhcf.co.uk,
w: www.northamptonshirehealthcharity.co.uk.

Move4 Physiotherapy Northampton: 5 Easy Ways To Avoid Injury

Move4 Physio Northampton have, and always will have one guiding principle, to improve the way you move.  Whether it’s your job, your hobbies or your lifestyle, the body develops strategies to allow you to achieve the outcome you want, and adapts to the things you spend most time doing. 

If you spend most of your time driving or sat at a desk, you will develop certain postures.  These postures, maintained over a long period of time, can lead you to develop issues such as low back pain, shoulder soreness or hip problems.  It’s our job to unpick these unwanted issues and get you back moving more efficiently, the way we were born to move.

Now, the last few months have meant most people out there have either been working from home, or have been furloughed and have spent much more time around the house.  With the patients we have been managing over this period, there are some trends which have developed, so we felt it would be useful for you to get a few tips from us to try and learn from the experience of others by putting some things into practice before it’s too late.

Tip 1 – If you normally wear high heels to work and have been mostly either barefoot or in flip flops throughout the last few months, make sure you stretch your calves regularly.  Wearing high heels can lead to short/tight calves so when you remove the heels this can lead to calf or achilles tendon issues.

Tip 2 – Looking at your phone a lot more than normal? Avoid ‘smart phone neck’ by being aware of where your phone is when you are looking at it. Try to keep it at shoulder/eye level as much as possible and reduce headaches and neck soreness from letting your head hang forward whilst you get up to speed on social media.

Tip 3 – If you’ve done more sitting recently (which I think we all have), then be aware that gravity is going to take its toll. To avoid shoulder issues make sure you stretch through your chest/pectorals and open up.  Sitting for long periods can lead to rounded shoulders which is a big risk factor for shoulder impingement issues.

Tip 4 – Linked to tip 3, if you’ve been working from home and sitting at your desk for long periods, make sure you open up your hips. Getting short and tight through your hip muscles can lead to multiple issues so use a lunge type position to open those hips up and avoid the pinching so many people report in their hips

Tip 5 – Many people have taken up new hobbies throughout the last few months.  One of the pitfalls of this is you go from 0 to 100 very fast and the body doesn’t have time to adapt.  Trying new things, and new types of exercise is amazing and therapeutic for you in the long run, but make sure you allow sufficient rest between activities and don’t ramp up the workload too fast.

If you’d like to learn more about ways you can optimise your body and build resilience, then  get in touch with us on 01604 735678 or email us appointments@move4physio.com.  Failing that, we have just under 100 exercises for you to try on our website www.move4physio.com

We look forward to working with you very soon.

Kind regards,

Move4 Physio Northampton

Northampton General Hospital: A Special Thank You To Children & Families Supporting NGH Staff

Dr Sonia Swart, Chief Executive at Northampton General Hospital has sent personalised letters and activity booklets to children and family members of NGH staff.

During the past three weeks, 2,000 letters have been sent to thank children for supporting their loved ones at home during this difficult time with a personalised note and fun-filled NGH activity booklet.

In the letter, Dr Swart thanks the children for being part of the NGH family, ‘I am lucky enough to work with lots of amazing people every day who help our patients get better… I want you to know that everyone here thinks you are very special. That’s because you are lucky enough to have your own NGH hero; someone who loves you very much’.

Charlie, Macmillan Acute Oncology CNS said “Libby was so excited when she received her letter and activity book. She felt ever so proud and special when her daddy read out the extra special note about how brave and caring she has been. She took it into school today to show all her teachers and friends. Such a simple but thoughtful gesture can make all the difference in times like these. Thank you Team NGH”.
Natalie, HCA on Paddington ward also added “Phoebe & Axel were so excited to receive a letter addressed to them in the post yesterday and were absolutely over the moon when they opened it up; Phoebe had a few happy tears as she read it out!”

Dr Sonia Swart explained why she felt writing to children was so important: “We know how hard our staff have been working, however it’s important to remember that there’s a whole other team supporting our staff at home. We hope the letters and activity books will go a small way to show our appreciation to them for the support they have given to our team at NGH”.

As well as a letter, children received one of two activity booklets created by the communications team. Children under the age of ten received an activity booklet including colouring in pages, a ward word search, and a fun fact sheet for their chosen NGH hero. The older activity booklet had puzzles, career information, and tips on taking a break and instructions on how to make an origami crane, which traditionally symbolises hope and healing during difficult times.

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Northampton General Staff & Patients Contribute To Major COVID Breakthrough

Teams at Northampton General Hospital have played a key role in a major breakthrough for the treatment of COVID.

Dexamethosone, a low cost steroid, has been shown to significantly improve the outcome of patients diagnosed with COVID who need oxygen or ventilation support and reduce deaths by one third.

This discovery is thanks to a national programme that the hospital has been participating in to trial a range of potential COVID treatments. The research and development team at NGH were one of the first hospitals in the UK to sign up to the RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY) trial.

Michelle Spinks, Interim Head of Research and Development described how NGH has contributed to the discovery “Heading into the unknown is the nature of research and development work. We are used to testing new drugs, procedures and ways of working however COVID presented us with a whole new challenge.

“We had to adapt our ways of working, temporarily suspend current research and mobilise all of our resources at short notice to help to find a treatment for this virus. Along with many other hospitals we were keen to participate in the RECOVERY trial and the team were able to complete study set-up and recruitment in just 10 days”.

Since the beginning of the trial the hospital have successfully recruited over 240 patients into the trial and have been recognised in the top 5 hospitals nationally for their contribution to the research.

Dr Einas Elmahi is the Principal Investigator for the trial “Following a busy and tough few months we were delighted to receive news of a breakthrough thanks to the trial. From the preliminary results it has been identified that low-dose dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients with severe respiratory complications of COVID-19.

Dr Elmahi also stated: “This means that patients in the UK and across the world can now benefit from this low cost treatment. It’s a great feeling to know that through this research our staff and patients have been a part of this discovery and that our work will benefit people globally”.

The trials are still taking place at Northampton General and across the UK with the hope that further research can help to identify and develop new COVID treatments.
Michelle added: “To see some light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel is what we had been hoping for. For NGH to be in the top 10 recruiting hospitals is more than we had hoped for. It’s a testament to Team NGH and we will be forever grateful to the hardworking and dedicated staff who helped us to achieve this”.

Medical Director, Matthew Metcalfe said: “From the outset of the COVID-19 health emergency NGH was committed to contributing to high quality research. I am deeply proud that our fabulous research and clinical teams have made such a significant contribution to this study which we now know will save many thousands of lives.”

Northampton General Hospital has a fully-functioning Research and Development Centre supported by funding from the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) Clinical Research Network East Midlands. Research nurses, research physicians, research co-ordinators and administrators and research and development office managers and our dedicated clinical trials pharmacists were focussed and determined to meet the challenges ahead.

More information about the RECOVERY trial can be found at recoverytrial.net


Spinney Vets is offering remote video consultations to provide clients with valuable access to their vets during the Coronavirus lockdown

A leading Northampton vet practice has launched remote video consultations in a bid to continue providing pet owners crucial access to its expert team throughout the COVID-19 UK lockdown.

Spinney Vets, in Kettering Road, has introduced video consultations in a bid to reassure pet owners during the Coronavirus crisis, after aligning with Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) guidelines to physically see only urgent and emergency cases at the practice.

The video consultations will allow the vets to give general advice, prescribe medications, where appropriate, and provide updates on treatment for pets already in their care.

Iain Fletcher, clinical director at Spinney Vets, which has practices in Northampton and Wootton Fields, said: “We understand how much COVID-19 has affected everyday life for everyone across the UK.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of our patients, clients, team members and community is our main priority.

“While adhering to RCVS guidelines, during this time of social isolation and distancing we are committed to providing the highest levels of care to our patients and owners alike.

“In taking all possible steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 we are delighted to introduce video consultations, helping to bring pet owners some reassurance from our trusted team when they most need it.

“We have already seen it as an invaluable tool in allowing us to redirect a patient to an emergency clinic when the clinical signs observed on video consultation suggested greater concern to that pet’s health than our client was aware of.”

The process will involve clients who have any health concerns for their pets, ranging from emergency to non-urgent, calling the Spinney reception as usual to establish whether a video consultation, or immediate examination, is appropriate.

If a video consultation is appropriate, a member of the Spinney team will then liaise with clients to organise a suitable date and time, email confirmation and guidance on set-up ahead of appointments.

If further investigations or treatment is required following the video consultation, arrangements will be made for pets to be seen at the practice. The practice procedures for social distancing will be explained and must be followed at all times during any visits.

For more information about Spinney Vets, visit www.northampton-vets.co.uk or search for Spinney Vets on Facebook.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Health Advice

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Coronavirus symptoms

– a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
– a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
– You feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
– Your condition gets worse
– Your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading

Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

You should only leave the house for 1 of 4 reasons:

– shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
– one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
– any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
– travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home

These 4 reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

Looking after your health and wellbeing
To help yourself stay well while you’re at home:

– stay in touch with family and friends over the phone or on social media
– try to keep yourself busy – you could try activities like cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
– do light exercise at home, or outside once a day

How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus
– Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
– Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
– Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
– Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
– Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
– Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
– Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Treatment for coronavirus
There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.

Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.

Treatment aims to relieve symptoms while your body fights the illness.

You’ll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.

Tips for staying at home
– If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, do not leave your home for 7 days from when your symptoms started
– This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious
– Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure you can successfully stay at home
– Ask your friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
– stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible
– Sleep alone if possible
– Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
– Stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible
– Drink plenty of water and take everyday painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, to help with symptoms

For up to date information refer to:

Editor’s Letter – April Issue, 2020

Dear Neighbours,

I hope you’re keeping well (and sane!) amidst the chaos of Coronavirus. I’ll admit I was a little naive as to the impact it would have, but as each day goes by and there’s more restrictions imposed with travel, events and sporting fixtures being cancelled, and more people self-isolating, I am beginning to realise the enormity of the situation and the effect this will have on our economy. At this difficult time, we must all be as supportive as possible and be aware of elderly neighbours who may need assistance. It’s time to pull together as a community more than ever. For further information and advice on coronavirus, please see page 60.

In the meantime, let’s do what Brits do best – ‘keep calm and carry on’…

With Easter nearly upon us, we take a look at its origins and where the strange tradition of a rabbit leaving chocolate eggs possibly came from, page 10.

Our interiors article this month looks at creating a space for children to play, page 12 and we also have home products for keeping toys tidy, page 16.

While children and teenagers are often far more tech savvy than us parents, their lack of life experience makes them vulnerable online. We have advice on keeping them safe, page 22.

On the topic of technology, we also look at some of the scams circulating via internet and email; see page 26 for what to be aware of.

Also this issue, we have a special feature on understanding global warming, page 40. If you’re trying to do your bit for the planet, switching to eco-friendly toiletries is an easy place to start, see page 42.

Finally, we have a couple of tasty recipes for you to try – Creamy Gnocchi Bake, followed by Rhubarb Meringue Pie; pages 46 and 56 respectively.

Keep safe and well. Until next month…