Its Christmas!

It’s officially the festive season, and it is time to get excited! Not only is it “the most wonderful time of the year”, it is also an exciting time within the Practice!

Where to start, where to start …?
Let’s begin with IT shall we? I’m not going to sit here and pretend I am an IT genius and claim I know all there is to know about IT and its significance, because, quite frankly – I’m not, and I don’t. However, what I do know is that we have introduced E-Consult and the NHS App to our Practice. The NHS App, for anyone that doesn’t know, allows you to book appointments online, check your symptoms and order repeat medication – all without coming into or calling the surgery! (Which is great – especially during the holidays – you don’t even have to leave your bed! … Duvet day anyone!?)

Another thrilling venture we are taking as a Practice is introducing “A Day in the Life of …”. Have you ever wondered what it is like working as a Nurse, a GP, a Secretary? Well, wonder no more! In the New Year we are looking at sorting something special out for you all – something that will enable you to spend a day in the life of us – The Cambridge Practice staff! (And I assure you, we are all riveting people with stories to tell and things to show you, so fear not – you will not be disappointed!)

As I have said before, it is officially Christmas; a time of cheer, good will … and great food (let’s be honest with each other, we were all thinking about the food); a time for Band Aid, East 17 and Michael Bublé to serenade us; a time where pyjama and duvet days prevail. I could keep listing things about Christmas, but that would take forever, so I won’t (besides, my GCSE English teacher always said “the list of three will work wonders – it will engage your readers, keeping them interested, but not bored” … so here’s hoping they were right!). It is also a time for the many, many Christmas films to come out of the cupboard and make their way to the screens; Elf, A Christmas Carol, Home Alone … and … dare I say it … Die Hard (controversial, I know).

Here at the Cambridge Practice, we are all embracing the festive season in our own ways; in the secretaries’ office we have tinsel around desks, lights around screens and cute Santa post-it-notes stuck to desks; in the Reception area at Lower Farnham Road we have a lovely nativity set (rumour has it, this was made by a patient and given to us to be displayed forevermore) … Plus, the time has now come for Christmas jumpers in the Practice! Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s taste in Christmas clothing – I hope you are too! And who can forget the Christmas songs being played on the radio?! I can never resist a mini karaoke session whenever possible (so if you see anyone walking along the corridor in the surgery singing along to music that isn’t actually playing – it will probably be me – I’m not mad, I promise; I just love a good sing-along!).

Now, however much a lot of us will enjoy Christmas, we have to remember those who are less fortunate than us – those who may be alone, homeless, unable to buy what they need … Christmas, although a time to be merry, is also a prime time for being the best version of yourself; we are, as a nation, beginning to bring love and acceptance to the forefront of our lives; I have seen so many things on the internet about people who have been touched by random acts of kindness – albeit paying for a coffee, returning a dropped item, or even paying for something as simple as a birthday card. These things that may seem small to some of us are something massive to those less fortunate. So please, check on your neighbours who are spending Christmas alone, spare a thought for people who cannot have what others will have this season – it does not take much – just a thought – but I know that if I was struggling, knowing I am being thought of would make a world of difference.

So for now from all of us at The Cambridge Practice;

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you in 2020!

Melissa Woodley

Making The Cambridge Practice the best it can be

Put up the banners, blow up the balloons, and celebrate in style – we made it! It has been a year and a half since Victoria Practice and Southlea Group Practice officially joined forces. I’m not going to lie – it’s been challenging for everyone, staff and patients alike. The changes that have occurred range from different telephone numbers to staff members being moved from one site to the other to a change in Practice Managers. And we all know that change is not easy. To use the slightly generalised saying, “we are creatures of habit”; we all get used to coming in and dealing with familiar people, albeit Receptionists, Secretaries, Admin Staff or Doctors, and when suddenly you’re coming in to the surgery and there is a complete stranger sitting in your favourite receptionist’s chair, it is bound to be a bit unsettling for some. We want to take this opportunity to reassure everyone that no matter whom you speak to, no matter who you see within the Practice, we are all here to help you. Our priority is you. We are all committed to making The Cambridge Practice the best it can be, and in turn, making sure the care you receive is the best it can be.

On the topic of care, I would like to mention something new and exciting within the Practice. In the words of Marvel’s Nick Fury; “There was an idea …” – the Practice has set up a team, a mix of clinical and non-clinical people, whose aim is to improve the Mental Health Services we offer as a Practice. There has been a lot of focus recently on mental health – it is everywhere you look; Facebook, News Websites, TV shows … and for good reason. Mental Health is such an important factor of everyone’s life – no matter who you are. Anyone who is suffering with their mental health deserves to have as much support as possible. Therefore, the Practice’s Mental Health Team, who had their first ever meeting in September, have had a few thoughts on how we can support those who need it. Our plan is to ensure that every GP has a folder filled to the brim with information on local services that they can handpick and present to patients depending on the patient’s needs and what would best benefit them. We are also planning to set up a Mental Health Web Page on our Practice website. And this … this is only the beginning.

As the patient, you know what would best help you. You know yourself better than anyone. And as a Practice, we have been thinking of new ways to get you, the patient, the best care that you know will be beneficial to you. Therefore, there are talks of setting up a way of getting your ideas to the forefront of our minds. One thought has been a ‘Suggestion Box’ in each Reception, so if you do have any ideas on how we can best help you, there is an anonymous way to put forward your thoughts.

Alas, the time has come for me to tie this post up – so as a goodbye for now, we would like to thank everyone who has supported the Practice throughout the merge and the challenges that followed. As I have said, it was not easy, but we got there! And we will continue to improve all that we can. Thank you – each and every one of you – for making this Practice all that it is, all that it can be, and all that it will be.

Melissa Woodley

The Cold Snap

Freezing temperatures, ice and snow are here..
Top tips just in case you aren’t completely ready for this cold snap:

If you cannot afford to heat all the rooms in your house to 18 degrees Celsius, heat your living room during the day and your bedroom from one hour before bedtime.

Stay indoors as much as you can but keep active even with chair based exercises.

Eat hot food/have hot drinks.

Keep all windows closed.

Draw your curtains when it is getting dark.

Wears lots of thinner layers of clothing, a hat, gloves and socks, pyjamas at night.

Only go out if you really need to. Wrap up 10 minutes before you go out so that you have trapped heat around your body. Wear boots or shoes which have grips on the soles so you are less likely to fall.

Check on older relatives/neighbours or anyone that has a long term illness especially if they live alone to make sure they are warm and if they are prescribed medicines/inhalers, to make sure they are using them. Check that they have enough of them and enough food.

Make sure you have contact numbers for people who can help you during this cold snap and for people who you may need to help. Keep your mobile charged and ensure your landline is working.

Additional top tips for the cold snap if you have COPD, asthma, heart conditions or diabetes…

If you are going out, try using your reliever inhaler 20-30 minutes before you go out and keep your reliever with you.

Wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth and breathe through your nose instead of your mouth as this will help warm the air you breathe in.

Contact your GP or pharmacist asap to get more inhalers if you are running out (or nebulisers if you use these) and to get a ‘rescue pack of steroids and antibiotics’ if you have used a rescue pack before but do not have one at home now. Your doctor or COPD nurse will have explained to you when to start the steroids or the antibiotics (as you may or may not need to start both) so that you do not need to see a dr straight away if it the evening or a weekend, though you should still see a dr within 2-3days of starting the rescue pack. If you are not sure whether to start your rescue pack or you don’t have one but know you need one, contact your dr or 111. The sooner you start your rescue pack, the less ill you will get and the quicker you will get better. If you don’t have a self-management plan to follow, make an appointment to see your COPD nurse to get one.

Same tips as for COPD except do not need the ‘rescue pack’.

Sugar levels creep up when it is very cold or if you become ill, so test your blood sugar (after warming your hands up) as often as you did before and if you feel unwell. Increased activity to keep warm can reduce how much insulin you need. Try not to ‘comfort eat’.

Heart conditions
Do not do too much physical work outside or forget to take any medications you are on because cold weather makes your heart work harder to keep your body warm. This increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The cold also affects your blood which increase the risk of developing blood clots which could also cause a heart attack or a stroke.