Monday 2 March 2015, 20:30 | By Adam Hallows
In the News March 2015 – Palliative Care and the General Election
With the general election fast approaching, this is an important time for organisations and charities to push their agendas and ask for real change in policies, and we’re pleased to report that seven key organisations have put together a manifesto asking for palliative care to be prioritised. Read on for more information on that, together with a review of recent news in the mHealth and creative arts therapy worlds, which we have tweeted about recently.
PALLIATIVE CARE MANIFESTO FOR POLITICAL PARTIES
With only a couple of months before we vote in the next government, a number of charities have joined forces to put together a manifesto that urges the political parties to ensure end-of-life care be a priority in their policies, as reported by eHopsice.com.
Hospice UK – which supports the work of more than 220 member organisations – has collaborated with Cicely Saunders International, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the National Council for Palliative Care and Sue Ryder to write the manifesto. The manifesto outlines five calls to action, including: making social care free and fast; introducing 24/7 advice and support; accelerating co-ordination between services; increasing the research budget for palliative care and improving data collection to improve care.
As an estimated 3 million people will die while the next government is in power, and the NHS takes a prime spot in political debates, these issues are at the fore so it will be interesting to see which parties tackle these issues in their campaigns and policies. As ever, we’ll be keeping an eye on key policy changes if/as/when they come into play.
PROMISING NEW APPS ENTER THE MHEALTH DOMAIN
As the mHealth market continues to grow, it can be difficult to keep abreast of all the new start-ups that claim to transform healthcare. Thankfully, we follow a number of key bloggers who have pointed us to some promising projects that have caught our attention in recent weeks.
StartUp Health added six new companies to its portfolio and iMedicalApps wrote about three which have real potential. Firstly, AlemHealth is integrated telemedicine for developing countries, whereby clinicians can upload details on specific cases and specialists from other countries can review the cases and provide feedback and advice. Secondly, Gritness is a search engine for local fitness, running and activity groups – a bit like a Yelp for fitness. And finally, iMedicalApps spotted Healarium, an app which delivers specific care plans that include daily tasks and educational material direct to patients, who can then be monitored by clinicians using the app’s real-time dashboard.
Another app which stood out to us enables sighted volunteers to help people with visual impairments to undertake everyday tasks. Be My Eyes uses the camera on a mobile phone or tablet, and the volunteer can describe what they see to help the other person carry out the job, according to the Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine.
THE ARTS IN HEALTHCARE REDUCING STRESS AND ANXIETY
A recent article in North Carolina’s Citizen Times described the healing power of the arts and how creativity can help people – and their families – as they face chronic health conditions. The Arts For Life programme doesn’t necessarily draw on traditional art therapy techniques, but it does provide education in art, music and creative writing to help paediatric patients and their families cope with their illness.
“We try to have every imaginable arts/craft supply available,” said executive director, Rachel Zink. “If our kids can imagine it, we can create it. We always have options to choose from. There aren’t a lot of choices for kids when they are being treated. They don’t get to choose whether to have their blood drawn or see the doctor, but with the art table they have plenty of choices.”
Crucially, a survey by Arts For Life revealed 100 per cent of the participants believe the “art instruction transforms their illness by giving them ways to reduce stress and anxiety.” You can’t really argue with a stat like that. We hope that our own research into the effects of music on wellbeing and reduction of stress and anxiety, conducted by Dr Thomas Barber from the Human Metabolism Research Unit at the University of Warwick, will yield positive results too. The study is a work in progress and we’ll continue to report on the research as it develops.
In the meantime, if you’re feeling the ‘winter blues’ and need to boost your own wellbeing, Huffington Post reported on ten art therapy techniques to help you through the long winter months, from making your own dream catcher, to making a morning drawing. Enjoy!