Introducing Michelle Church

Michelle Church
Michelle Church, Improvement Advisor for Palliative Care

Around 54,000 people die each year in Scotland, most following an illness. Four times as many are affected by the loss of a loved one.

How do we best support these people to live well, help manage conditions and give quality and meaning to their life as their health declines?

This is the question I ask myself, as the Improvement Advisor for Palliative Care within Living Well in Communities, and as a daughter who looked after her Mom during the last few months of her life.

I loved my Mom so very dearly, and I started grieving while still caring for her. It was a time I found incredibly difficult.

Mom wanted to stay home but the say of doctors and the power of the system dominated the decision-making around her care. It seemed to me you were either in the system (hospital) or out (on our own).

Her palliative journey was one of pain and crisis. As her main carer, I gradually became exhausted and, whilst we tried to treasure her final months, her last few days were chaotic and full of interventions rather than the peace and respect she so very much deserved.

Many things have changed since then. Continue reading “Introducing Michelle Church”

Older People and The Outdoor Gym: Will Green Prescribing Offer an Alternative Path?

As a district nurse for over twenty years I have mainly cared for older people in their own homes. The  challenge with an ageing population is supporting older people to self-manage their healthcare and stay well through exercise.

john-and-his-dog-archieThis is my neighbour John and his dog Archie. John is 82 years old, and though he can’t walk the Eildon hills anymore, he still manages to take Archie out for short walks down the street. Archie gives him a reason and motivation to get out and about.

There is an abundance of evidence on the benefits of outdoor activity.

Research at the James Hutton institute identifies multiple, inter-related barriers that reduce the opportunities for older people to participate in outdoor activities: poor health, immobility, limited social relationships and fragility.

The Green Gym

As health professionals how can we engage with patients and their families to make green prescribing, and the use of our great outdoor ‘green gym’, a real choice?

We can’t do anything about our Scottish weather but we can use green prescribing as an additional choice to the traditional hospital based exercise care pathways for falls and post-op rehabilitation.

Interventions need to be offered which suit people’s ability and preferences. They don’t need to be based solely around exercise and can be seen as an option to alleviate social isolation, the profound loneliness many older people feel. Research by geriatrician Dr Carla M. Perissinotto at University of California has linked loneliness to physical illness and early death, a real health challenge for Scotland, with so many elderly people living alone. Continue reading “Older People and The Outdoor Gym: Will Green Prescribing Offer an Alternative Path?”