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Neath Port Talbot

GP hails new paramedic team as ‘game-changing’ for patients and families

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A service which sees specialist paramedics supporting people in their last days of life has been hailed as game-changing by a Swansea GP.

Dr Chris Jones of Llansamlet Surgery said the new service streamlined the process with obvious benefits for patients and families.

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Last October, the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust (WAST) appointed its first dedicated palliative care paramedics.

Following training at Morriston Hospital, the four-strong team now works with Swansea Bay’s specialist palliative care team, dividing their time between patients in the community and those in hospitals and hospices.

Palliative care involves the relief of symptoms and stress for people with a life-shortening illness, and helping them plan for the future.

The specialist paramedics are also there for relatives, working alongside them to help families support their loved one’s care.

The pilot service, the first of its kind in the UK, commenced in December and, said Dr Jones, was already making a real difference.

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“It’s a daunting area. Even though we deal with such cases on a daily basis, it sometimes needs specialist input and liaison with a service that has more specialised knowledge and understanding.

“It is an area of the utmost importance. It is a very critical time in people’s lives, and their families’,” he said.

“It’s not something that can be delayed. These are situations that have to be dealt with on the same day. Having the palliative care paramedics available has been game-changing.”

Dr Jones said that, previously, someone from the surgery or one of the palliative care nurses or doctors would have gone out to the patient’s home and liaised to make a plan, but that would often take time.

Now, he said, it was all done on the same day, sometimes within the hour. “I phone the advice line and speak to one of the palliative care clinicians,” said Dr Jones.

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“They provide advice about what needs to be done at my end. If appropriate they will contact the paramedics who will go out to the patient’s home.

“They liaise back with the observations and examination findings, and with specialist advice if it’s needed.

“We can arrange for any prescriptions and drugs charts to be provided to the family. It’s good for the patient, and the family.

“The paramedics can provide that extra support to the families. They link with the GPs and the consultant and act as the face of many services, rather than have a GP and a palliative care consultant, then possibly the GP again.

“They are bringing services together to support people.”

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Dr Jones said the service also allowed continuity of care, by involving one GP, one palliative care consultant, and one paramedic.

“Previously I may have been involved to begin with but if I was not available the following day, another GP would pick it up. 

“It has streamlined the whole process, with obvious benefits for patients.”

Another benefit is that the paramedics can help make the team available more often when very ill people and their families may have the greatest need, including weekends when other services may be harder to access. 

For some years there has been a specialist nurse available seven days a week and support from on call specialist doctors.

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But the paramedics add a new strand to what’s provided and makes it easier to respond more quickly each day.

Dr Idris Baker

Swansea Bay Palliative Medicine Consultant, Dr Idris Baker, helped trained the specialist paramedics.

He said: “We’re so pleased to see how these paramedics are fitting into the team and grateful for support from the ambulance trust as well as the health board to get them up and running.

“They add a string to our bow. We have contact with lots of people at home every year across Neath Port Talbot and Swansea.

“Many of them we can see face-to-face but we haven’t always been able to do that as quickly as we wanted or as they needed.

 “The paramedics’ responsiveness and their skills in assessing patients and their situations are already so helpful in guiding how we support district nurses and GPs in their care.

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“And they are so enthusiastic in how they go about it.”

Ed O’Brian

Ed O’Brian, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s End of Life Care Lead, said: “We’re so pleased to hear that this joint initiative between WAST and Swansea Bay has been so well received, and that’s it’s benefiting not only patients but also other health care professionals.

“When we introduced this new role it was the first of its kind, an unproven concept, so we’re constantly measuring and evaluating to ensure it is bringing maximum benefit.

“Receiving this positive feedback from Dr Jones is really pleasing to read.”

WAST says it hopes to build on the success of the role first piloted in Swansea Bay by expanding the service to other areas of Wales.

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Dance

Doctors prescribe dance classes to keep patients on their feet

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Over 65s in Swansea Bay are being encouraged to attend dance classes in a bid to keep them on their feet.

Five of the health board’s clusters – groups of GP surgeries working together within a geographical area – are backing the scheme as the exercise to music is proven to aid falls prevention.

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Each class is led by a trained dance teacher with participants encouraged to follow a range of routines, designed to develop their strength and balance, with the option of using a chair for support if their mobility is limited.

The Dance for Health programme is a collaboration between the health board, clusters, local authorities, and Aesop, an arts focused charity.

Alyson Pugh, Programme Manager at Aesop, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners in the health sector to improve the health and wellbeing of people aged over 65 through the medium of dance.

“During each class participants will move to a variety of music from all around the world. The classes are fun and vibrant, increasing fitness, mobility and strength.

“Afterwards, participants will have a good chance to get to know one another over a cup of tea or coffee. No previous experience is needed, everybody is welcome.”

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So far classes are held in Pontardawe, Morriston, Seven Sisters, Cwmavon and Briton Ferry, Upper Killay, Reynoldston, Mumbles and the Waterfront Museum.

Alyson said: “The health board asked for 12 classes across Swansea Bay and funded the management side while the GP clusters are funding the delivery of the classes. They wanted it to be grass roots up.

“Anyone can walk in but they wanted the main referrals to come from the virtual wards and local area coordinators and social prescribers, a whole community approach.”

Lizzie MacMillan (Image: Swansea Bay HNS)

Dance artist Lizzie MacMillan (left), a development officer for Dance for Health, said: “It’s for older people and people who are struggling a little bit with perhaps balance issues, mobility issues as well, so we are not expecting them to foxtrot along the floor on the first class or anything like that. It builds up over the weeks.

“We start off quite gently, just seeing where everyone is in the class – I like to gauge the class first of all to see if people are having problems with balance or perhaps giddiness or joint problems. I like to get to know each person in the class so that I can look after them and know their capacity for movement.

“We use the chairs quite a lot if someone is unsteady on their feet. They can still do a variation using the chair for support. We also do a standing variation if people are a little fitter or a little bit more able to push themselves further in the class.”

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Over 65s in Swansea Bay are being encouraged to attend dance classes in a bid to keep them on their feet. (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Mike Garner, Cwmtawe Cluster lead, said: “We are delighted to be participating in this programme as it fits in perfectly with our goal of improving well-being and helping people remain fit and healthy.”

One participant, Pauline Anderson, said: “I’ve been to four or five classes. I thought I would try it to see what it’s like and it’s been very good.

“As you get older you become more immobile. I’ve been struggling with my knees and joints, so I have found it helpful.

“I would advise anyone thinking about it to just come along.”

Another participant, Betty Didcock, said: “I try to keep active as much as I can. I used to enjoy dancing when I was younger. I’ve made friends here. If you’re a bit shy, it’s a wonderful place to come to get used to talking to people. I’m a quiet one. I don’t always do it right but I have a go.”

While Amber Davies said: “I thought I’d come along to see what it was like. It’s important to keep busy and remain active. It’s also a good way of meeting new people.”

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(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Construction

Housebuilder reports “exceptional demand” as Aberavon development launched

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“Exceptional demand” has been reported as the first homes at a new development on Aberavon seafront were released for sale.

All appointments were fully booked on Saturday as Persimmon Homes West Wales opened the doors to the sales office.

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Two homes were purchased at the Awel Afan development and a further 10 reserved on the Early Bird scheme over a busy weekend.

A total of 137 homes are being built on the former Afan Lido Leisure Centre site on Princess Margaret Way.

Sharon Bouhali, Sales Director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “We’re pleased to have launched our Awel Afan site.

“The demand has been exceptional. Right from the moment we acquired the site and announced the plans, we have seen a phenomenal amount of interest from a wide range of people wanting to live in his amazing location.

“The housing market remains buoyant in West Wales but, even so, the buzz around Awel Afan is almost unprecedented.”

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Opened by the Queen in the 1970s, the Afan Lido was destroyed in a fire in 2009 and the site has been unused since.

Persimmon say the development will bring a massive boost to the local economy through the construction industry and its multiplier effect. According to figures from the House Builders Federation, for every £1 spent on housing, £3 goes back into the economy.

The national house builder says that each home built also creates 1.5 full-time direct jobs – and at least twice that number in the supply chain.

The development will be made up of two, three and four-bedroom houses, as well as a range of two-bedroom flats.

Homes currently on sale include the popular two-bedroom terraced Alnwick with its modern open plan kitchen/diner and the four-bedroom detached Hornsea with ensuite and integral garage.

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Persimmon Homes recently supported Afan Lido Girls FC with a game-changing grant of £20,000 through its Building Futures campaign.

(Lead image: Persimmon Homes)

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Port Talbot

Police launch appeal to find missing disabled woman

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South Wales Police have launched an appeal to find missing Waunarlwydd woman, Kelly Randell.

45 year-old Kelly was last seen in Port Talbot on Tuesday 3 May.

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A wheelchair user with one leg, Kelly is described as being around 5ft of medium build with brown hair which is tied up – possibly in a bun.

She was last seen wearing black jeans and a black coat.

She has links to both Swansea and Port Talbot.

South Wales Police are appealing for anyone who may have seen Kelly, or who has information which will help them to find her, to contact them online or by calling 101 quoting occurrence number 2200149152.

(Lead image: Family photo / South Wales Police)

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