Posted in cooking, goals, Health Promotion. Diet, nutrition

Herbs in my Garden.

I love fresh herbs and have a raised bed in my little garden. This last week I used coriander, thyme and mint in my meals and harvested some garlic.  The flavours in the finished meals seem more distinct somehow.

Today, I am blackberry picking, to have a trial run with my blackberry mousse. I have enlisted a friend who is going to be my food taster, as well as my family, to help me improve any recipe and have decided on my savoury dish for later this month. She loves cooking and is very good at it. She will be an honest opinion that I will truly value.

For now, I just wanted to see how my tablet performs uploading a picture straight to this blog site, as this will be the camera I use to photograph the end results. 

Finally, with chatting about my blog, I have found a new customer for The Barn here at Downham Market ( see my previous two postings.) She would like to buy some of the locally made cake as well as some organic honey, the later is really delicious.

So progress all round and I am pleased. Can’t wait to see how the mousse turns out for tea….

Have a great eating weekend everyone.

Posted in goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Learning, nutrition, Writing

A Potential Blogging Link to a New Local Food Store.

I have made a potentially exciting discovery in my home town of Downham Market, Norfolk. A new specialist food store opened three weeks ago called The Barn and I strolled in to take a look yesterday. It was pleasing to the eye and sold a variety of food products, some of which I had not see in any supermarket chain. 

There was Spelt flour of which I had been searching for, coconut oil and coconut sugar of which I have been reading about the possible benefits off, as well as other ingredients I had seen in several recipes just recently. Here they were, all in one place, and the other attraction for me was ( that it appeared at first glance) a lot of this food was produced locally. I purchased a Norfolk seed, apple and date cake. I knew this would not be my last visit.

As I was paying for my purchase, I struck up a conversation with the seller. I said I liked the shop and that I was trying out some new healthy food ideas. Casually, I mentioned my food blogging and the lady seemed really interested. She told me that they were creating a Facebook group soon and perhaps I would like to link up and share my postings with them. I replied that that would be great.

I went away and had a thought. Why don’t I link the products purchased at the shop with my new spin off to this food blog: a project I had mentioned to one of my closest friends on Facebook only the other day. It’s about seasonal food. I am going to be cooking two specific dishes a month, one fruit and one savoury, starting in September. The ingredients will include at least one food in season for that month and will form part of this blog’s objectives.

So, in addition the writing here could be an additional marketing avenue for this new business and also may attract more traffic to my blog site. I really do hope they set up a facebook group. This will really help my motivation with this work, as I love to have a real sense of purpose in what I am doing and this is definitely it.

For many, these types of food retailers have an image of being expensive. Well, the cake bought certainly wasn’t, at £1.49 but some things did cost more, than say at a supermarket or a shop’s own brand. So as part of my food blogging, one of the objectives is to look at price. The question being: is it possible that paying for an ingredient that is more, for example, coconut sugar be worth it as the end result?

My first dish will be a dessert using the commonly seen and free blackberry that will grace our hedgerows soon. I will be using coconut sugar and intend to make a simple mousse. I will be adapting recipes as well as using others from food sites and these will have links. I hope it will generate some interest.

I just need the September blackberries to show up now…

What do you think to the idea? Suggestions and comments are very welcome.

Posted in achievement, Art, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, Environment, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Ideas, Liberation, Modern society, Personal Growth, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts, Writing

Mindfulness: the Way to Declutter your Head.

I was in a newsagents last week when I spotted a new magazine called Breathe:it was the first issue.

  This magazine is written for a growing sector of readership, just like myself,whose desire is to enhance their physical,social and mental well-being. Designed to include four aspects of living: wellbeing, mindfulness, creativeness and escapism, the magazine is beautifully presented and covers a wide range of related topics, all of which are highly interesting and fresh in presentation. I am already eager to see the next issue on sale, September 22nd and have it marked on my calender. 

But what does it say about the reading habits, especially of women, and of a movement ( gathering an ever greater momentum ) where there are now courses and qualifications for a different type of practitioner? I am talking about the subject of mindfulness, and the interest clearly is growing enough for a publisher to create a new magazine, to include this subject, to live calmer, less stressed and more meaningful lives- lived in the present moment.

For someone who has experienced anxiety and stress, sufficient to have produced depression in the past, mindfulness is helping me now in a number of ways; the main benefit being in the unclutering of the mind. This mental dejunking has had several spin offs and I would like to share those here:

It keeps my anxiety into perspective and I will only focus on a concern in the present moment. A worry about a potential, confrontational meeting, regarding a thorny issue next week, can wait until then.

It has empowered me in my relationships. I am finally shaking off the need to be liked. Believe me, this has taken me years! I can be proud of who I am and have no need to seek others approval. I recognise my own power and this power has yielded results, so that gives me more courage to be assertive. This spiral is on a trajectory of only one way which is up. This excites me.

It has helped me to think more creatively. As a result, I am now starting to doodle mindfulness scribbles and pictures. I intend to share some.

It has helped me develop new hobbies. I have taken up drawing and really enjoy it. It does not matter about the level of skill. When I draw I forget everything. The concentration of the drawing keeps me totally in the present.

As a result of drawing, I have taken up postcard colouring. This is a nice spin off. This has brought joy to my family – so much so that one has been framed. This has brought me happiness, knowing that such a simple thing can bring other people joy.

I listen more, but realise I still don’t really listen at all well. There are gaps in people’s conversations that I don’t always pick up. This has been a shock. I am tuining in more to people and can respond better to them. Challenge yourself on this next time you listen to someone. Is your mind mentally on to the next task of what to cook for dinner?

I have started meditations and have returned to a much simpler form of Christian faith which includes prayer. I am beyond astonished that how these prayers have been recently answered. I search out quiet space, churches, under skies, on my walks for these types of moments. I am grateful so much for this.

I have found time to take up blogging again and to really think about what I want to write. Words jump out of my head randomly for future blog post. In the space of my mind, a book idea and even its title is already taking shape. I just need the belief to write it now and to say I am good enough to do it.

I have uncluttered the house. This has been going on for two years now since moving and embraces the minimalist movement. I like simplicity and space. Even my clothes tastes have changed. I like minimalism and follow Joshua Becker and his minimalist blog site.

Over thinking for me has been a real problem. I think too much most of the time. This is a hard habit to break. Recycling your thoughts have a shelf-life. Sometimes, you just have to bin the trash once and for all.

So these are the main changes and observations to date and these won’t be by far the end, of that I am certain . In the meantime, I am looking forward to reading Breathe and wish the magazine every success. My close friend tells me that when you are in tune with your heartfelt desires, things like books find you. I wish I had found mindfulness years ago but am glad to have discovered it now.

Go out and find out for yourself. You might be in for a few surprises! I would like to hear what you find.

 

Posted in goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Ideas, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Up and Down over the Hurdles of Food

It’s been awhile now since my last food blogging, but I have been busy reading and learning more about what you could and should be doing to help you feel better.

You see, this has become more than just loosing some kgs. Over the course of these last few weeks, it has been striking what patterns are emerging: the cravings, the set-backs, the disappointments in will power, the up and downs of this journey, as I try to kick the sugar habit once and for all.

One truth that has been demonstrated to me over the course of this time is: if you keep your blood sugars stable by eating regularly through out the day, your need to snack on chocolate and other processed sweet things, like biscuits, is so much more under control. Hence, this is now my typical diet for the day:

Lemon and honey, first hot drink of the morning.

One shredded wheat with semi – skimmed milk. At first it had a teaspoon of honey on it, now there is none at all.Take a look at the sugar content in cereals: Wheetabix, porridge oats and cornflakes are lower than most others. Incidently, I could never stand shredded Wheat, it was like chewing tasteless string. Now I love it and it’s a great low sugar breakfast. One biscuit fills me up until 10.00 am when it is break time for me at school.

Fruit mid-morning,low glycaemic index fruit ( low carbon value) such as plums, pears and apples. Banana is the highest one I will eat, scoring at 65. Take care with bananas. I don’t eat them every day, as too many and the weight is back on.

No sandwiches for lunch. Instead Ryvita, thins or a tinned mackerel salad as examples. Anything that is a whole food, carrots, nuts, eggs, it does not matter which. It is surprising how little you need to fill you up. I treat myself to bread no more than once a week. Preparing lunch is easy. I just throw anything into my lunchbox at random. It takes five minutes.

A fruit or nut snack on the way home from work. A crucial time for me when the need to snack is strong. Nuts and seeds are great for you. Protein is good.

My usual dinner at night. Again,trying avoiding anything that is processed. I have a treat sometimes or when I am busy and don’t feel like cooking, though you soon don’t want to go down this road.

No dessert, unless it is Greek yoghurt with small dash of honey or small portion of fruit. Banana, blueberries or strawberries are nice with this. Desserts are treats when going out to dinner- though again, I often decline, they are simply becoming too sweet.

Alcohol is consumed largely only at the weekend and usually then no more than one glass per night.

Small amounts of dark chocolate after dinner, though this is now occasional. The need to eat it is becoming less and less.

Variety and colour and different food groups. Colourful foods are healthy foods, rich in different vitamins and minerals. I don’t eat low fat products- to make them taste better they are loaded with sugar,  but I avoid trans fats. I eat bacon and eggs at the weekend.

Keep portion sizes down. I have seen a lot of people trying to eat really heathy, but the masses of pasta and salad on their plate is self defeating.Accept one thing. You can’t eat the amounts you could get away with it at 30 when you are 50. It’s a fact. Learn to eat variety but less of it. You will soon get used to it, as your stomach adjusts.

I have been studying that the effects of high sugar and insulin levels affect your ability to lose weight, reduce the rate of your metabolism which gives me a small but never-the-less apple- shaped tummy. My next step is to undertake a  small piece of research on myself to see how my blood sugars individually react to certain foods and how this affects my overall weight.

Results have been slow but the progress is in the right direction. The biggest barrier is social and family get-togethers and a husband who wants to tempt you. Seriously, I would have been at my target weight by now if it wasn’t for the eating desires of those around me. It is hard to eat low carbohydrate food when you have a buffet table in front of you and Dad wants to go out for breakfast. Typically, after a trip to Lowestoft to see him, a kg is back on and it can take sometimes a week to get it off, though interestingly the time it is taking to do that is becoming less and less.

Other measures are exercise as part of lifestyle incorporation, taking the five-minute longer way around in the park to work when walking, some cycling, brisk dog walking, yoga and weight lifting for five to ten minutes in the evening. More about exercise in another post. Avoiding fruit juice, a killer to low blood sugars and take water with you to work and drink it throughout the day.

Top tip: don’t become a slave to any of it. Do it when you want to, embrace the small changes and don’t beat yourself up if you cave in, just start again.

This is no longer a chore. It’s becoming a way of life that I don’t want to change. I feel great, have more energy, better memory and I have deliberately put this last, have lost five pounds. Ideally, another five would be the icing on the cake, or for me now, a bowl of fruit…..

More to come!

Posted in Debate, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet

The Benefits of Lemon and Honey

Who has ever tried a cup of boiled water with one teaspoon of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey? I hadn’t until recently,after reading the many and considerable health benefits of this drink, though I decided to put two teaspoons of honey in the cup,rather than one. I like things sweet!

It looked insipid and rather weak, bland and not very exciting. It tasted OK though and it was drunk until the cup was empty.
However, I wasn’t inspired to try it the next morning (the old drinking habit of tea beckoned.) Being honest,I can see why it would not appeal first thing in the morning and why many people would not bother with it.
But, my further reading encourages me to not give up. If you read anything about this subject of lemon and honey in a drink you will find much information about why it is so good for us.

Here are just a few reasons:
1) Taken on an empty stomach, it is an excellent colon cleanser and prevention of constipation.
2) It boosts our immune system and cleans our lymphatics .
3) It reduces infection and colds.
4) It suppose to help with weight loss, though why this is so I would need to research further.

( My fact finding then took me to this site linked here:). This is a comprehensive list and one which is repeated and endorsed several times over with other health-sites explored.)

http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/why-drinking-water-early-in-the-morning-good-for-health-p214/

It would appear that the super properties of both lemon and honey makes this a source of excellent health benefits. So, I am encouraged to give this another try.If you have read my other postings, you will know that the thrust of this work is to find ways of reducing costs whilst promoting health and healthy weight. Therefore, I have been reading about ways to conserve fresh lemon.

Lemon juice can be frozen in ice trays, and can stay fresh in the fridge for two to three days. The exact cost of both these food products I need to still check on, though I recall that it is very cost-effective. I shall be adding any comments on any other information found and prices of both lemon and honey from the supermarkets in the comments box. Also, how I have got on with my next task of drinking this daily for a week, without altering anything else to both diet and lifestyle. This is to see if it has any weight loss benefits for me

So, in the meantime, what else have I been up to since last posting?
I have re-organised my kitchen, its utensils, food and general cupboards. This blog is having one very non-predicted outcome: The organisation of my time.

In order to feed a blog, this requires planning,organisation and time to write and think over ideas- time I am short off. So I have been looking at my entire day and what I am actually doing, when and how. This has been the one and most positive impacts so far in my efforts to reinvent my blog postings. I have felt more in control and more organised and my morning routine has been calmer and a good start to the day.

It’s still taking me sometime to get posts done, due to research, editing and so forth but I am hoping I will get quicker and will be posting once a week, (if not more in the school holidays,) when I am not at work full-time. So please bear with me and keep reading.

When you work in an environment where a staff-room promotes all sorts of discussion you can not help but hear the conversations of others. I have heard about soya, caffeine and headaches, a new diet, ‘getting back on the wagon’ and not slipping. You see, lots of people talk about food and health more than you think. In fact, I think this subject is the most talked about, especially in women, but the one that generates a battle most people confess to be often loosing with the most weakness and the most frustrations. So I would be keen to hear from any body who has any experiences to share with me here, not only with this this beverage, but any other topics that could be included in future postings. My blogs may be slow but they are written with serious care. Thanks for viewing.

Posted in Debate, families, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet

So Where Does H.E.L.E.N Go From Here?

Hi,

Yesterday, I posted a new blog post launching H.E.L.E.N ( which stands for Health, Eating, Learning, Education and Nutrition) and so far, the comments have been great and really encouraging. I had 103 visitors to my site and I guess the reason for that is, hopefully, most people can relate to what I have said so far with their own bodies, habits and minds.

So, I have taken a look at my site and updated a few things, along with the new picture, to make a more effective statement as to what I am up to. Please feel free to make any comments and suggestions. This is not just my site now but yours. I want you to own it and share it, if you want to. By visiting here, my hope is that you are taking a vested interest in you and your families health, happiness and well-being.

One of my facebook friends started a discussion with me and I thought it contained some really important points that I wish to share. So many people that I have spoken to, when we are talking about long-term conditions, have what I call an overlapping jigsaw affect, of multiple symptoms and problems impacting on each other. Often, you go the GP with the biggest and most pressing one in mind, that is affecting you the most, and the doctor will do their best to sort it out. But I truly believe that only joined up thinking ( Yes, the holistic approach that a 10 min GP consultant can’t cover) is the only way to reduce the NHS bill and most importantly save the patient more distress and illness in the end.

One scenario goes something like this:

A person puts on weight due to comfort eating because of long-term stress, or trying to quit smoking. We all know the addictiveness of smoking, so we kick one habit for another which is often eating. Stress raises cortisol levels and the body goes into the ‘flight or fight mode’ and this creates hormonal signals which says to the body, please store fat. The person feels fed up because more weight piles on. They start to diet, only this causes other chemical reactions which also tells the body to store fat: this body is in starvation mode now! Weight loss is hard work and they give up. Weight gain over time then causes old joint problems to flare up, or make their already existing hypertension (raised blood pressure) worse. They go the doctors, are prescribed more pills which in turn can cause side-effects, and that then exacerbate another condition previously under control.You get the picture.

Four people I know springs to mind here when giving the above example. I cite it because this is another reason why I wanted to do this blog. How can we find the answers to such a common scenario but very tricky to solve problem? This is what I am going to be digging over and over, until I, and I hope others on here will share their answers with their replies. I don’t have straightforward explanations, but when I was a district staff nurse, I passionately believed in the the concept of what was then known as ‘The Expert Patient.’ People finding out what works for them, or not and SHARING IT.

Today, I will leave you with this. This morning my husband and I started a new drink. It looked weak and white washed sitting in the cup. Until I learned to drink water, on its own, recently I wouldn’t have given it house-room. It is hot water with lemon and honey; one of the best digestion remedies there is apparently. It was OK. Tell you more about it next time and why lemon and honey are so good for you. I am hoping it will help with my Rosacea, as this has been shown to be linked with a digestive problem. To establish the root causes of disease, rather than just treating the surface, remains one of the greatest challenges facing C21st century medicine today!

( Disclaimer: These are personal views and are not intended to replace trained medical consultations. Therefore, always obtain the necessary medical advise, and do not stop taking any medication, unless advised to do so by a your medical practitioner.)

Posted in Change, goals, Government, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Research

Launching H.E.L.E.N on a budget.

For many years now I have wanted to write. So I set up this blog, published some posts, then life took over and certain events took over and it has sat idle. Then, I started working in education- helping EAL ( English as an additional language) children and learning new things and now that old feeling of wanting to write something of use, of value just keeps coming back.

But what do I write about? I know people who have published their work and they have told me that you need a market, a target audience and lots of practice. Like any skill, you have to practice- like my drawing, and you have to want to do it and know something about what you are writing about.

Now, I have found the answer. For me, it has never been about publishing as an ego boast. It can be trendy to write novels, articles and get your name in W.H.Smiths. That would be nice of course but why do I want to write? I asked myself that question at the beginning of the year. It is simple: to write something that people need, that they want to hear. To help people- yes, that’s it.

I am passionate about health, well-being and nutrition, and as a nurse I have found that I am good with health-promotion and in general people do have confidence in me when they talk to me. I have been touched over and over again when people ask me things, at work and in a personal setting. I love research and I am good at that too. I have loved discussing academic papers with Kathryn – my daughter who is at UNI, and I have a Post Grad Cert in Women’s Health Studies which I should use.

So this is what I am up to. H.E.L.E.N now stands for Health. Eating, Learning. Education. Nutrition. Perhaps, my name has always meant to be this.:)) Recently, I have been watching a lot of weight loss and health videos (and the same message is beginning to  re-occur) but there is always a catch. For you to find out about this or that, it involves payment for that plan, that book, that slim fast club. You watch many, many minutes of information but … it keeps you hanging right to the end and then someone wants your money.

So, I am cutting through all of that by looking at the ideas and then doing my own research and I am going to share it for FREE to you. Because, that’s the next thing. Since becoming a teaching assistant I have truly looked in my purse and with the money I have say:

“Is this for food or petrol, prescriptions or can I buy X?”

I am thrifty and love a bargain and also know that for many on a minimum wage, feeding yourself and your family for health (note I did not say just for weight loss,) just feels impossible and can be time consuming. People start off with good intentions and then drift away.

Also, since, I have been on Facebook, I see all sorts of peoples’ experiences. Of suffering, of need, of joy and pain. Everyone is striving for one thing:happiness. Some see it in a holiday, a new possession, getting something fixed, going out, sharing, being kind, getting things of their chest or simply letting it all hang out….

So with my firm belief that empowering others, sharing, and creating the kind of life you want for yourself, my writing is going to focus, within this blog site, my own journey as I learn about what works for me. To be well, energised, happy and free. I am going to share with you everything I learn about H.E.LE.N.

Everyone knows the Mantra of ‘five a day,’ calories in versus calories out but we have a nation of sickness both physical and emotional on an endemic scale. I have known depression, have a skin condition, have joints that ache sometimes and have a sugar addiction, so I am with you. I am no different to anyone else struggling to get fit, feel well and be happy.

Therefore, alongside learning better English ( that in turn will help my job for the longer-term) this is my plan. Of course, you would say there is a lot of information out there already and, yes, you are right. However, I want to search through all the chaff and the wheat, the gimmicks and the good ideas and to hit it straight at you here for you to decide. This is personal, with a disclaimer, that I am not giving a medical opinion or anything other than general information, for you to go off and get any of the proper professional opinions you need.

It’s one good way to get writing and it’s one great way to feel that you might just be helping someone. If you want to keep reading… welcome aboard. I hope you enjoy the path as much as I am wanting to see where the path leads and takes us all. I am very excited about this!

Posted in Change, Children, Commitment, Debate, families, goals, Health, Home, Modern society, Thoughts, Uncategorized

I Am Seriously Worried

Yesterday, I started to really look and notice something for the first time. Walking along the seafront, my eyes wandered around the people and their outlines. Many were overweight, and the striking thing of all was that many young and middle-aged women were not just overweight but clinically obese. Yes, the word most Women I am using here, from what I saw yesterday. And overall women appeared to be fatter than men. I wondered why.

That word fat is an awful word isn’t it. We don’t like saying it, as it potentially portrays a negative comment about an individual. It conveys that we have no self-control. That it is our fault we are just big. Fat is bad both in word, shape, image and representation. It is an ugly word and you just don’t say it. We avoid it and look beyond it to another conversation. TV programmes have aided this invisibility of weight. Being in love with your curves, dressing to enhance the natural shape are the things to do. Yet, I know several women who have tried to “diet” another bad word. Like me, they can fluctuate from weight loss to weight gain and then stop and start.

Against this, we have a tide of programmes showing us every aspect of cooking. People like to watch Masterchef, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Olivier showing us to how to cook. We have no shortage of inspiration tips and advice. Cooking on a budget, cooking something different. Cooking healthy nutritious meals, it’s all there. Sadly, most of us appear to be using it for entertainment against the reality of true cooking or not, as the case may be.

We have had a lot of media coverage about the ailing health service struggling to cope, the time bomb of heart disease, the labelling of food and a food industry that is committed to serving us fat, sugar and salt. The simple truth is we are losing the battle on eating a diet to give us health. A newspaper report this week showed stark figures that our children will die before we do, as their weight and lack of exercise spirals out of control. The not so hidden rise of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease (yes, as we consume ever dangerous amounts of alcohol) is causing greater alarm bells than ever before. We simply won’t have a health service able to cope. Societies health is going to collapse and the infrastructure to support it unless we take some radical action now. This is what is going to happen and that is why I am seriously worried.

I can’t begin to answer all the questions that could be posed here as to what could be done about it. What I do know is, how hard it is to lose a few pounds. How when you go out to eat, in the vast majority of typical restaurants, you find it almost impossible to eat low-calorie, low-fat, tasty food. I know full well how easy it is to throw food in the supermarket trolley just because your are tired after a day’s work and just want to get home. And once you are at home, you just throw something quick and easy into the oven because it’s just too much bother. How you need time to shop wisely, how you need positive energy to make the changes. Healthy eating and weight reduction is hard and it can be costly. Many people on ever tighter budgets can’t do it and the apathy is, I just don’t care. I do my best, I eat what I can.

We eat for comfort, we treat ourselves to chocolate as a reward to ourselves for a hard day. I am not judging overweight people at all. Everything is stacked against us. I am not overweight but I am in the same boat as most of us. I will be sharing on my next blog what changes we have managed to make here as a family. It’s not been easy and by no means has the battle being won yet but we are trying. This is being done because quite simply we can’t rely on our health service to patch us up. It isn’t going to there for much longer. We have to look after ourselves now the best way we know how.

Posted in achievement, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, goals, Government, Health, Human Rights, Learning, Modern society, Politics, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts

The End Of My Nursing Days.

In my twilight days of nursing there saw an introduction of a laptop computer. We all had one provided and training on how to use it. Those days had seen our area of work extend and staffing cut. The laptop had one very important function: to record data. This is what we all had to do. My area of work was then in the community, so I travelled a lot, covering many miles sometimes between two surgeries caseloads and in all weathers.

Every detail and work entry had to be recorded on a system called System One. So that meant that every phone call, procedure, paper work, (EG, if it involved an referral or assessment), was logged. This had to be done for every patient visited. The time we took to do each thing and how long it took to get from one patient to the next. This was logged in our work dairies and then onto System One. You still had all the patients personal records of care to do in the home as well, I might add. This was asked for to help see where the workload was, for accurate records of patients, and to prioritise resources.

You can imagine that this was a lot of work and when we could not get it done in the days schedule, it had to be taken home to do it. We were all given the appropriate connections to the data base to get this done. At the same time, my e-mail box was forever getting fuller. New policies, training, forms, referrals and memos. I personally was finding it harder to keep up. Sometimes, my brain was a fog and the effort to juggle the balls was becoming harder. My own personal stress levels went up and I felt vulnerable. Vulnerable that I would miss something, forget something. I had a note book and wrote everything I needed to do down so everyone got seen, every task and communication done. My tick list was ticked off at the end of the day and shredded. I worked incredibly hard but the passion and the enjoyment went to a very low point.

It was like being a hamster on a wheel. The harder you ran, the harder the wheel turned and it just went round and round, always to the same place, never to finish. Because the hamster was always running and the wheel just ended up at the same point for you to run all over again. It felt like you were getting no-where.

Sometimes, a ray of energy would emerge. A really excellent job was done, you had made a difference to someone’s life and job satisfaction prevailed. You were happy and pleased and felt it was all worthwhile. But, like the hamster, the next day you were back to just running, eventually you burn out and that is what happened to me.

In the end, I had had enough. I had done all that I could do. I knew that there was no end in site to any of it, if anything it was going to get worse, and I have been told that since then it has got worse and I am well out of it.

But I took 28 years of care with me and it was brave decision but I just said no-more. I thought, as it had been my identity all my working life, it would be hard to let go. But it hasn’t been. Now, my new life working in a school as a teaching assistant has made me so happy, opened up so many new doors. I have never looked back. I go to work each day never having the dread or the worry. There is no stress and if there is it is very minimal.

I had some wonderful times, happy memories, really dark days, sadness and some regrets. But I did something worthwhile and I did it well and for that I am proud. I have written these blogs to defend my former profession. I could not just sit back and let the recent press hound us in such a way, without trying to defend those still brave enough to work in nursing.

I would say to the general public one thing. Come and do a shift. Put a uniform on for a day and live it with us. See what it is like. I am not defending shabby care, hostility and I am not minimising the pain that bad care has caused to families. I feel ashamed that such cases have existed. But the general public just has to know how hard and almost inhuman it is to be asked to just keep going, like we are now asked to do in such work conditions. This is the vital message I want to convey to any reader out there.

Later this week: a summary of what has gone wrong, given what I have discussed here and what can be done now if at all?

Posted in Change, Debate, goals, Government, Health, History, Human Rights, Ideas, Modern society, Politics, Skills, Thoughts

Government Policy And The NHS.

When something is going wrong in a system of work,fingers naturally will often point to the management structure. Senior staff can be questioned, managers decisions criticized.in this case with the NHS, the biggest manager and where the buck totally stops, is with the Government of the day. They have the overall say in how our NHS is run.

I am no expert here on figures and am not a statistician . What I can say can only be based on what I have seen for myself and read in the media. So let’s take the Mid Staffordshire case. The horrific situation of systematic failings in care was largely created by a catalyst of cost cutting and the relentless drive towards becoming a Foundation Hospital. In order to become that,(foundation status means more self-governing) the hospital had to slash debt, have improved performance targets and be seen to be keeping on track, not only in budget but what it could show on paper to be improvements, efficiency and throughput.

In-fact, this objective is part of every hospital up and down this country. Along with this, the Private Finance Initative called PFI’s was introduced by the last labour government and its impact have made the present situation even worse. PFI’s are loans to hospitals to rebuild, improve and to makeover old hospitals into shiny, spanking new ones. However, many of us will know the outcomes of hospitals struggling to pay off these loans. They have been left with huge debts and deficits.

Then, on top of that, we have fines if certain targets are not met. If a patient goes over a four hour waiting time to be discharged from the Accident Emergency Department to a ward, transferred to another unit or sent home, the hospital is fined. If an ambulance does not deliver and dispatch a patient in a certain time span, it is fined. This is all supposed to be about improvements in performance, get the stick of financial punishment out, and somehow magically results will be produced forthwith. But what has happened? As wards shrink in size, as hospitals slash inpatients beds and staff to save money, there results in a chaotic rush of bed juggling, and the frantic efforts to free up beds against fewer manpower resources. If a patient is discharged and then that patient is what we would term a “bouncer”, that is to say they are re-admitted within a certain time frame,the hospital gets… you guessed it, a fine!

How are hospitals suppose to stay on track budget wise if all they are threatened with is fines? This is government policy now and it is doing nothing to help patients with their care.Infact, this only creates more pressure to treat a patient as a price tag, a unit, a juggling ball on a bed; and leads to what we have heard about bed moving in the middle of the night, against the tide of complaints of sleep deprived patients on wards. It’s like musical beds. Patients become little more than another stat to be got through the system as quick as possible. Now we have jobs purely for bed managers and early discharge assessors and the term, the “bed- blocker” comes to my mind. This is when someone is stuck in the system with no outlying community bed to go to ( because they have been either cut or closed) but they can’t go home either.

Never has the pressure for beds and timed targets been so great as it is now; with increased population, sicker older people, increased expectations of the population to be seen and treated and the changes in GP’s out of hours care. Literally hospitals are fit to bust…..

I leave you with a question. How can these government-led poliices be conducive to quality total patient care? And the nurses, as well as other NHS staff, are caught right in the middle of it. I tell you something: it makes for a hell of a lot of stress. It does nothing to help health-care professionals, with their own mental health, who are suppose to be angels or compassion, care and tranquillity, when really they are tearing their hair out, to give this essence of care that is talked about….

Tomorrow: An example of the crazy burden of data collection and why ultimately I left NHS Nursing.