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Gorseinon

Health board loans out ‘artificial cats’ to make older people feel more relaxed

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A Swansea hospital has a lending library with a difference, stocking everything from artificial cats and relaxation discs to medicine safes and locks that sound an alarm when a door or window is opened.

The project, by Swansea Bay University Health Board aims to help to keep older people safer and feel more relaxed.

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The health board say the library could also soon include lifelike baby dolls which can have a soothing effect on older people when they become distressed.

The library has been put together over the last three years by Sue Williams, secondary care team lead with the Older Persons Mental Health Service based at Ty Garngoch near Gorseinon.

Sue said: “The lending library is for people within our service. They may have cognitive impairment, but we also have people with anxiety, with an array of mental health issues.

“You have to try to think out of the box. How are you going to help this person? Everyone is unique. Everyone has different coping mechanisms or ways of self-soothing.

“There are many aids available. The problem is that they can cost quite a lot of money and there is no guarantee they will work. So we provide a kind of try before you buy service.

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“We don’t sell them. We lend them out, and if the patient or their family feel it is helpful, they can buy their own.”

Sue and her team with some of the equipment available for loan. L-r: Sue Williams; healthcare support worker Alison Roberts; community psychiatric nurse Debbie Huxtable; healthcare support workers Jo Cattroll and Helen Williams; and clinical lead Rachel Francis (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

The artificial cats have a calming and comforting effect by purring and moving when they are held – but they cost around £80 each.

Similarly, while medication safes are a boon they are not cheap – but again they are available to loan from Sue’s collection.

“If we assess someone possibly using medication inadvertently due to poor cognition, for example, we may decide something has to be done quickly to maintain safety,” Sue said.

“The medicines management team has a very small number of these safes but very often they are all in use.

“We have loaned ours out on numerous occasions so the medication can be locked away.

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“The carer or relative can open the safe but the patient cannot so the medication cannot be taken by mistake.

“From a safety aspect, it’s one of the best things we have.”

Other equipment includes CD players and relaxation discs, a range of self-care and other books, picture phones, stress balls, heat-sensitive bath plugs, card games, large dominoes, and weighted cutlery for people struggling to grip.

There are also door and window locks which have inbuilt alarms that sound if they are opened.

The most recent acquisitions are two memory clocks, donated by the health board’s Liaison Psychiatry team, based in Morriston Hospital.

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This was after the team undertook some fundraising activities organised by their well-being champion and liaison nurse Sara Ware.

Memory clocks are particularly helpful for people with dementia, supporting them to stay orientated and tell the time and date when they are unable to use regular clocks.

“Quite a lot of the people we deal with have cognitive impairment and they find the days get mixed up,” Sue explained.

“When you’re not working, when you don’t have a reason to look at a diary, it’s like when you go on holiday, you lose track of time, you lose track of days.

“We would like to thank Sara and the liaison team for such thoughtful donations.”

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The equipment in the lending library has been paid for through a variety of means, including the health board’s own charitable funds.

There have also been donations from grateful patients, families and others – including a £1,600 cheque presented by Madcaps, the amateur dramatic group of Uniting Church in Sketty, in 2019.

Sue receives the memory clocks from Sara Ware and members of the liaison psychiatry team (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Also that year there was a large donation from Waunarlwydd Carnival Committee, nominated by Swansea Bay lead nurse Marie Williams.

Next on Sue’s wish-list are lifelike baby dolls. While she admits opinion on these is divided, she has very personal experience of their worth.

“My mother had dementia and could get restless. I tried her with a baby doll I had borrowed. I put it by her side. She picked this baby up and started kissing it, saying, ‘My baby, my baby…’.

“Some people say it’s demeaning. To me, no. With my mother, it worked so well. It gave her so much comfort.

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“So that’s another thing I want to be able to purchase so that we have that ability to say to people – you could try this.

“It made an absolute world of difference to my mother’s well-being. My father actually went out and bought a couple of different dolls because it helped her so much.”

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Gorseinon

Popular Gorseinon 10k run returns after almost 20 year absence

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The much-loved Brisco 10k run is returning to the streets of Gorseinon in May 2023.

The event, which was last run in the early 2000’s returns after almost a 20-year absence. Local running event company, Front Runner Events will manage and run the event, which will look to replicate the fun and community spirit of the original fun run.

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The return of the popular run is thanks to the efforts of local councillors Andrew Stevens, Nicola Matthews and Jan Curtice (pictured above)

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, said: “As a council, we are delighted to see the Brisco 10k is returning to Gorseinon. The event has been missing from the annual calendar for too long.” 

Councillor Andrew Stevens said: “It has been a long-term pledge of ours to bring back this race to the community of Gorseinon. To see the Brisco 10K return next year is wonderful news, the event has always been well supported by the community and we look forward to welcoming the runners back next year. 

“With the backing of a local company, Brisco and the support of Front Runner Events, the event will see hundreds of runners taking part from all over the city and helping us re-establish the event as an annual race.

“It is wonderful to see this race return to the streets of Gorseinon after so many years away. Seeing local businesses working together with Swansea Council and the town council is wonderful. Events like this are for the community and seeing the community working together to support the return of the race is great”. 

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David Martin-Jewell, Managing Director of Front Runner Events added:  “We are extremely proud to be able to bring this historic race back to the streets of Gorseinon and Swansea. The Brisco 10k has a special place in the hearts of runners in the city and we are excited to be part of the recreated event and bring it into the 21st century.

“This event has a great heritage throughout the city and will hopefully see the new generation of runners from the likes of 3M’s and Swansea Harriers compete for the bragging rights at the event. There are some fantastic runners in the city and the local clubs will want to earn the bragging rights at winning the first one”

Councillor Jan Curtice said: ‘This is great news for the community of Gorseinon and is wonderful that we can realise our pledge to see this much-loved event return. We (with the town council) have been committed to helping establish events such as this for the area. We hope that this will be a great day for everyone. 

“The Brisco 10k will also help local running clubs and provide vital fund-raising opportunities for charities throughout the area. Building on the heritage of the original race, it will certainly help raise the profile of the event, and help attract a new, younger generation of runners to the sport. 

Nick O’Kelly, Operations Manager of Brisco said: “We are proud to return as the headline sponsors of the 10k. We have wanted to see it return for years, so we are delighted to support the event again. 

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The event will take place on April 30th, 2023, and more specific details will be available from frontrunnerevents.co.uk in due course.

Front Runner Events are the organisers of the JCP Swansea Half MarathonM&D Care Llanelli Half MarathonCardiff Metropolitan University Cardiff 10K and the Great Welsh Marathon

They were recently announced as the new organisers of the Port Talbot Half Marathon.

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Clydach

Funding secures additional 49 life-saving defibrillators for Swansea communities

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An additional 49 easily accessible life-saving defibrillators are being installed at retail locations in communities right across Swansea in the coming months.

Swansea Council is working with the charity Heartbeat Trust UK to increase public access to this vital equipment and to become the UK’s first ‘defib-friendly’ city.

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The Council has agreed more than £60,000 in grant funding that will enable the Charity to place and insure defibrillators in locations that have 24-hour access in all 36 council wards.

These will include additional machines in retail locations in the city centre, high streets in communities including Morriston, Clydach, Gorseinon, Pontarddulais and Sketty and outside community shops or pubs in more rural locations such as Gower.

Swansea Council Leader Rob Stewart said: “This equipment can easily mean the difference between life and death when someone suffers from a medical emergency such as a heart attack and we want to ensure all our residents have as much support as possible.

“There has been an increase in number of accessible defibrillators in Swansea in recent years and the Council will continue to play it’s part in growing the coverage”

Deputy Leader Andrea Lewis, who has driven the initiative, added: “Heartbeat Trust UK is already doing a fantastic job working with our communities in Swansea.

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“This grant will ensure we can get these machines installed all across the city and help save lives. Our ambition is to be Britain’s first defib-friendly city where no-one is far from a defibrillator.

“I’m confident residents in all our communities will welcome this additional support as part of our partnership with Heartbeat Trust UK.”

It is anticipated that all 49 additional machines will be in place within the next few months.

Henry Gilbert, Chair of Heartbeat Trust UK, said: “We are proud to be partnering with Swansea Council to make this city ‘defib-friendly’ in terms of the strategic placement of defibrillators in all communities, generating greater awareness of their locations and providing CPR / Defibrillator training.

“Out of hospital cardiac arrests is one the top causes of death in the UK. The timely intervention of CPR and defibrillation can improve the survival rate from less than 3% to as much as 75%. This initiative will definitely save lives in Swansea.”

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(Lead image: Wikimedia / Tanja-Denise Schantz)

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Gorseinon

CCTV upgrades planned for four Swansea communities

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two gray bullet security cameras

Mumbles, Pontarddulais, Gorseinon and Uplands are to get new CCTV systems as part of a major upgrade of city-wide facilities.

The work comes alongside further upgrades for existing facilities in the city centre, council housing estates and Morriston.

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It’s also intended for plans to be brought forward to develop a network of free on-street community wi-fi services in the coming years in the wake of the network that’s already proved popular in the city centre.

The move will also see the council’s existing central CCTV control room upgraded.

Andrew Stevens, Cabinet Member for Business Improvement and Performance, said: “The programme of CCTV upgrades and new installations will start this year. It’s a project that aims to support our communities in the years ahead, support the police and other emergency services to help keep people safe.

“The opening of Swansea Arena alongside all the other city centre developments coming in the next few years means we need to upgrade our CCTV systems there.

“If the Morriston upgrade and new systems for Mumbles, Pontarddulais, Gorseinon and Uplands are a success we’ll also look to develop plans for other district centres.

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He said: “We’ve already been doing a lot of important work behind the scenes on developing our CCTV plans. Specialist CCTV consultants are helping draw up the plans for the first wave of projects so we can go out to tender soon.

“It’s our ambition to begin work on installing upgraded CCTV and some of the new schemes this year.

“Developing public wi-fi services for district centres are still at an early stage. But we’ve seen how popular the service is in the city centre which is why the council is keen to extend its network to other areas over time.”

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