Don’t lose sight of eye health

It’s National Eye Health Week and today’s focus is on being screen smart and preventing symptoms of screen fatigue. It is number six on Eye Health UK’s list of ways to keep the health of your eyes in sight.

Our partners can support you with the other savers – call us on 0300 323 0181 to find out how.

National Eye Health Week’s six simple sight savers

  1. Quit smoking. Smokers have a significantly greater risk of sight loss than non-smokers. Toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the delicate surface and the internal structure of the eye. This can lead to an increased risk of many eye conditions including AMD; nuclear cataracts; thyroid eye disease; dry eye and impaired colour vision.
  2. Eat right for good sight. Most of us have no idea that what we eat can affect how well we see, however, eye-friendly nutrients found in many fruit and vegetables and fatty acids derived from fish, nuts and oils can all help protect your sight. Vitamins B and E can help protect against cataracts whilst Omega-3 fish oils help maintain healthy blood vessels inside the eye.
  3. Watch your weight. More than half of all British adults are overweight however maintaining a healthy weight helps preserve macula pigment density, which in turn, helps protect the retina against the breakdown of cells and the onset of AMD. Obesity also puts you at increased risk of diabetic retinopathy and damage to blood vessels in the eye caused by excess body weight has been linked to glaucoma.
  4. Get fit. Aerobic exercise can help increase oxygen supplies to the optic nerve and lower any pressure that builds up in the eye. Reducing intraocular pressure can help control conditions such as glaucoma.
  5. Cover up. Exposure to UV light can increases your risk of developing macular degeneration and cataract. In fact, frequent use of sunglasses has been associated with a 40 per cent decrease in the risk of posterior sub-capsular cataract.[11] Always wear sunglasses when the UV index rises above three and check your sunglasses filter AT LEAST 99 per cent of UVA and UVB light. Look out for a CE or British Standard or UV 400 mark when choosing your sunglasses as this indicates they provide adequate UV protection.
  6. Be screen smart. On average, we spend more than eight hours a day[12] staring at a screen so it’s no surprise that 90 per cent of us say we experience screen fatigue – tired or irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches and poor colour perception. Avoid eye strain by using the 20-20-20 rule, especially if you’re using a computer for long periods of time. Look 20 feet in front of you every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.

And, people are urged not to forget to book an eye test during National Eye Health Week if they haven’t had one in the last two years.


[11] Delcourt C et al. Light exposure and the risk of corticol, nuclear and posterior subcapsular cataracts: the Pathologies OculairesLiees a l’Age (POLA) study. Arch Ophthalmol, 2000: 118:385-92


Local teenager shortlisted for NHS apprentice of the year

A 17 year old from Kirkby has been shortlisted for apprentice of the year in the North West Skills Development Network Informatics Apprentice of the Year awards.

Daniel Curran, who went to Maricourt Catholic High School in Maghull, has been shortlisted for the prestigious award due to the hard work he has displayed throughout his apprenticeship in the business intelligence team at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG.

The award acknowledges and celebrates the outstanding commitment to professional development and occupational progress of informatics apprentices, alongside the contribution and positive difference they make to their workplace.

Talking about his nomination, Daniel said: “In the first year of my apprenticeship I feel that I have really developed and matured personally and academically. On a personal level I feel I have matured a lot. The apprenticeship role has played a large part in developing my skills and ability to work in a team.

“I came straight into work not knowing anyone in the team so I had to take it upon myself to get to know everyone and mould myself into being part of the team. I’d say I’ve also developed my confidence in the workplace which I feel has improved a lot as before I came here I was very shy.”

Karl McCluskey, chief strategy and outcomes officer, said: “We are really happy for Daniel. He really deserves to be recognised for his work here at the CCGs. Whilst excelling in the technical and academic aspects of his learning, he has also had many professional accomplishments.

“His work has been of such a high standard that some of it has been incorporated into our monthly Integrated Performance Report, which is presented to the Governing Body and published on our website.

“Myself and the team wish him the best in the awards although getting shortlisted is already a great accomplishment and we are really proud of his achievements.”

Daniel has been shortlisted alongside Arron Jones from Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and Bethany Egerton at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust.

The winner will be announced at the Informatics Connect Conference on Friday 22 September at the Hilton Hotel, Blackpool.

BI team web large

Daniel Curran (fourth from left) with the business intelligence team at the CCG’s


Smokefree Sefton gets in gear

A new service to encourage people in Sefton to stop smoking will be launched later this month.

The new-look Smokefree Sefton, commissioned by Sefton Council Public Health and a partner of Living Well Sefton, has a ‘Wellness on Wheels’ Smokefree bus which will visit communities giving people the chance to start their smokefree journey or plan their own time to quit smoking.

The bus will be stopping off at Chapel Street, Southport on Wednesday 27 September and outside Bootle Strand Shopping Centre on Saturday 30 September between 11am and 3pm to offer tips and advice on how to stop smoking.

The team will have a smoothie-making bike available for people to make their own super fruit smoothie while pedaling and a face painter is also going to be there on one of the days.

Smokefree Sefton, formerly part of Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust, offers a choice of free help and support including face-to-face support from friendly advisors, selected local pharmacies plus phone and text support. They also offer support for those wanting to quit e-cigarettes.

There are approximately 35,019 smokers in Sefton – about 15.9% of the adult population (Integrated Household Survey 2014). If Smokefree Sefton can reduce the numbers of people smoking in the borough, it can have an impact on the overall health of both smokers and those affected by smoking.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member Health and Wellbeing, said: “Stopping smoking is the biggest thing you can do to benefit your health, with 50% of smokers dying early.

“We know that the vast majority of smokers in Sefton are keen to quit and there is lots of support available to those who have tried unsuccessfully to stop smoking in the past.

“So, whether you’re looking to prevent future ill health, increase your energy and improve your breathing, or would simply like more money in your pocket, I would urge you to sign up.”

To speak to someone from the team call 0300 100 1000, or contact the Living Well Sefton team on 0300 323 0181.

Wellness bus 4a

Make it easy for patients to feedback – GPs told

As part of the #ItStartsWithYou campaign, Healthwatch Sefton and the local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are calling on GP practices in Sefton, as the front line of the health service, to send a strong cultural signal to patients that the NHS is open and interested in listening to their views.

Healthwatch Sefton and the CCGs are also encouraging GPs and other primary care staff to share their own stories to tell them how patient feedback has helped them to learn and improve the way they provide care.

New research by health and care champion Healthwatch England adds to a growing evidence base that people recognise the pressures the NHS is under and want to help make it better by sharing their feedback.

The key to turning the public’s willingness to provide feedback into useful insight is to keep it simple. People are confident GPs take their comments and concerns seriously. Yet three out of four people (76%) have never given feedback, most commonly because they don’t know how to.

According to polling carried out by YouGov for Healthwatch, 76% of adults in England would be interested in sharing their feedback with GPs to improve services but only 23% said that they had actually provided feedback.

Of those people who had provided feedback, the most popular option was the traditional comments box (44%), followed by face-to-face feedback to GP practice reception staff (18%) and to the GP themselves (16%).

When those who had never provided feedback were asked which methods would encourage them to do so in future, 30% said they were mostly likely to respond to text or email follow-ups after a consultation, with 28% again opting for a comments box.

Interestingly social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook were the least popular forum, with just 3% of those who had provided feedback choosing to do so via social media. This would suggest using confidential channels is another key element of sharing feedback with GPs.

Imelda Redmond, National Director of Healthwatch England, said: “People tell us they want providing feedback to be simple, clear and confidential. Healthwatch is here to help busy surgeries not only improve how they seek feedback but also help GPs and practices managers explain how this insight is being used to give people the care they want.”

Rob Caudwell, local Doctor and chair at NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “We value the daily feedback we receive from our patients in consultations and comments provided in the surgery. We always want to do the best for our patients and work in partnership with them, welcoming comments from patients about what is working well in the practice as well as good ideas about how services could improve.”

Andrew Mimnagh, local Doctor and chair at NHS South Sefton CCG, said: “We particularly value the support of Sefton patients in working with us to highlight the impact of years of restricted funding on general practice and the wider NHS. Your views are important so please do feedback through Healthwatch Sefton.”

People in Sefton can also pass on their experience of using social care and health services to Healthwatch Sefton by leaving feedback on their website:

It Starts With You

Partnership works to prevent suicide

Since 2010 the partnership between National Rail and Samaritans has been developed to reduce the number of deaths on the railway, and has so far been reported as a success in suicide prevention.

In 2015/16 there were 252 suicides on the railway – 35 fewer deaths than the year before. National Rail and the Samaritans believe that a world leading suicide prevention programme that they now offer to staff, has contributed to this significant 12 per cent reduction.

Southport & District Samaritans want to strengthen this relationship at a local level with National Rail, Merseyrail and the British Transport Police, to show the public and the staff involved with the railway, that people care, and that there is someone to talk to. Every suicide leaves a lasting affect on family and friends, as well as rail staff, commuters and the wider community. Southport & District Samaritans hold regular outreach events at Southport train station to reinforce that we are here, within the community, ready to listen if someone wants to reach out.

Charlotte, a Samaritan Listening Volunteer, said “By having a presence alongside the staff from Merseyrail, the British Transport Police, and National Rail at Southport Train Station, we are hoping to spread the message that people really do care about the lives of the people in our community. We always get a really friendly response from members of the public, who will take our leaflets or stop for a chat. Ultimately, we just want to reach as many people as possible, so that if someone feels the need to talk, they know where to find us.

For emotional support, whatever you’re going through, call the Samaritans free any time, from any phone on 116 123. For information about what they do visit

They are available around the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you need a response immediately, it’s best to call them on the phone. This number is FREE to call. You don’t have to be suicidal to call them.

You can also email; or visit the Southport branch at 32 Union Street, Southport, PR9 0QE. No appointment is necessary and the Samaritans are open most days from 9am-9pm, except Tuesdays when the opening hours are 7pm-9pm, Friday 11am-9pm, and Sunday 11am-9pm.

The Samaritans are supporting the ‘30 Days of Sefton In Mind’ Campaign – to spread the word about local services and activities available to people in Sefton to improve their mental health.

Free blood pressure checks

Sefton Council and the local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are urging local residents to get their blood pressure checked for free as part of Know Your Numbers! Week. This is the UK’s biggest free blood pressure testing event held at ‘Pressure Stations’ around the country from September 18-24.

Shockingly, 30,0001 people in Sefton have high blood pressure and don’t know. High blood pressure has no obvious symptoms but it is linked to at least 50% of all strokes and heart attacks and increases the risk of kidney disease and dementia.

Some pharmacies across Sefton will provide information and advice on simple steps to keep blood pressure under control and will measure your blood pressure accurately. A blood pressure check is quick, free, painless and could save your life. You can also have a free blood pressure check in your GP surgery or use a home testing kit.

This year, Blood Pressure UK cautions that a poor diet and excess salt intake is leading more young people to develop high blood pressure putting them at risk of having an early stroke. Help to stop stroke and other illnesses by knowing your numbers just like you know your height and weight.

Figures show the proportion of strokes in working age people (those aged 25 to 64) has increased from 16.91% to 17.94% between 2013-2016 despite an overall drop in the number of strokes. Blood Pressure UK is urging people, regardless of age, to check their blood pressure as part of Know Your Numbers! Week.

Key risk factors for developing high blood pressure are largely lifestyle-related such as eating too much salt, not enough fruit and vegetables, being overweight and not taking enough exercise.

Living Well Sefton is the local wellbeing organisation and its community partners offer a variety of activities, courses and sessions to improve lifestyles which improve overall wellbeing.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member Health and Wellbeing, said:

“The message to people is to take charge of their health and get their blood pressure checked. Blood pressure is one of the most preventable and treatable conditions but remains one of the leading causes of death. As an individual having your blood pressure checked is the most important step that you can take to reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack or heart failure.”

Debbie Fagan, chief nurse at NHS South Sefton CCG and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said:

“It’s so important to get regular blood pressure checks and this week and throughout the year we remind people to do so. The fact that you can pop into some of Sefton’s pharmacies for a free test is ideal so we do hope Sefton residents take up this opportunity.

“Blood pressure can be lowered by changes to your lifestyle and if necessary taking medication as directed by your doctor. Your pharmacist can advise you following your test if you need to take further action.”

Some pharmacies in Sefton will be offering free blood pressure checks, to find your nearest pressure station please visit:

Companion sessions combat loneliness

As part of the Befriending and Reablement Service, Age Concern Liverpool and Sefton hold free bi-weekly Companion sessions throughout Sefton. The Companion groups are held in Southport, Bootle, Seaforth and Maghull.

  • Southport – Atkinson – bi weekly – Thursday afternoons
  • Bootle – May Logan – bi weekly – Thursday afternoons
  • Maghull – The Methodist Church – bi weekly – Tuesday mornings
  • Seaforth – Sing – bi weekly – Tuesday morning

Many older people can become isolated or lonely as they get older. They provide companionship groups where people meet and make new friends, and one to one home visits for people who aren’t yet ready to face a group situation, but would like some company.

The Befriending and Reablement service has been operating for over three years in Sefton and is established as a premier service for helping older people increase their independence, improve their confidence and overcome loneliness.

If you are aged over 50, live in Sefton and are registered with a Sefton GP, you will be able to access this free service which is funded by both NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG.

People who attend say it has made a real difference to their lives.

“I do feel a lonely lady except for the friends I now have at Age Concern Liverpool and Sefton. The main thing is the hope that it brings me into my life.”

“I really enjoy going to my companions group, I have made so many new friends. We have fun and play games, it is nice to know I have something to look forward to.”

To find out more details please contact a member of the team on 01704 542 993.

Or email:


Age Concern Liverpool and Sefton are proud to be part of Sefton Adult Mental Health and Wellbeing Consortium (SAMHAWC). SAMHAWC and its members are supporting the ‘30 Days of Sefton In Mind’ Campaign – to spread the word about local services and activities available to people in Sefton to improve their mental health.

Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.

The overall number of people with mental health problems has not changed significantly in recent years, but worries about things like money, jobs and benefits can make it harder for people to cope.  In Sefton there many activities and services that happen in the community every week, that you might not even know about, which could improve your mental health and help make life a little easier.

Living Well Sefton’s community partners offer a variety of activities, courses and sessions to help towards a healthy and positive lifestyle. Have a look through our website or call 0300 323 0181 for details.


Help when families need it

St. Joseph’s Hospice provides a Family Support and Bereavement Counselling Service at the hospice for patients and their families.

The hospice’s family support and bereavement counselling service helps patients and their family members to talk about their feelings, fears and practical matters with someone outside of their family. It’s important for families both before and after the death of their loved one and is available to families for as long as they need it.

Barbara Deus, Family Support Worker at St. Joseph’s Hospice, said: “We conducted an evaluation of the service in April 2017 and the feedback was very positive. One hundred per cent of the families who responded said they found the support was helpful; the service was worthwhile; and they would recommend it to others.

“The majority of families questioned said the hospice’s family support and bereavement service helped them to talk openly with someone outside of the family.

Barbara Deus, Family Support Worker at St. Joseph’s Hospice, can be contacted on 0151 924 3812 / 07587 186 088 or by emailing

St Joseph’s Hospice are supporting the ‘30 Days of Sefton In Mind’ Campaign – to spread the word about local services and activities available to people in Sefton to improve their mental health.

Barbara Deus

Barbara Deus, Family Support Worker





Connections to make a difference

The Community Connector Project, based within Sefton CVS, is aimed at people aged 18 or over who are feeling lonely or are at risk of being socially isolated, with low-level mental health needs, and not meeting eligibility criteria of Adult Social Care.

Upon referral a Community Connector will make initial contact and arrange a home visit. A loneliness questionnaire and mental wellbeing questionnaire are completed as well as asking the client questions such as what would improve their quality of life, what would get them out of the house and what have they always wanted to try.

They are paired up with a Community Champion (volunteer) who aims to help the client to achieve these aspirations by engaging with the local community has to offer. Slowly, the Community Champion will take a step back from their duties enabling the client to do more for themselves now that their social circle has increased.

“Many lonely and isolated people call upon emergency services in times of need, and this is not always necessary. They are likely to then be referred to Social Services when they do not necessarily meet their criteria,” explains Gina Harvey, Community Connector Coordinator.

“We hope an early intervention and prevention project such as Community Connectors can increase a person’s capacity and social circle so they can call upon new found friends as well as having the confidence to ask family and neighbours in times of need, to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and referrals onto Adult Social Care.

“Ultimately, we’d like our clients to become Community Champions to help others achieve the same results they have achieved! For more information ring 0151 920 0726 or find us on Twitter: @SCVSConnectors or via the website “

Sefton’s Community Connectors are supporting the ‘30 Days of Sefton In Mind’ Campaign – to spread the word about local services and activities available to people in Sefton to improve their mental health. 

Community Connectors



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