Supporting the wellbeing of carers

Closeup of old people hands holding together outdoor

Carers UK has today highlighted the importance of wellbeing in people who support the physical and mental health needs of others in a new report, published as part of Carers Week.

Carers Week runs from 11-16 June 2018, and aims to raise awareness of the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.

Discussing the results of a recent survey, Carers UK says that the physical and mental strain of caring is jeopardising the ability of unpaid carers to care in the future, as more than half of UK carers expect their physical and mental health and wellbeing to get worse in the next two years.

It is estimated that there are around 6.5 million carers in the UK who support a member of family or friend with a disability, physical illness or mental health problem. However, a spokesperson from Carers UK says that “without the right support, carers often put their own health needs to the ‘back of the queue’. As a result, many see their physical and mental health worsen.”

There are 6.5 million carers in the UK looking after a family member or friend with disabilities, illnesses, mental health problems or extra needs as they grow older.

Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK on behalf of Carers Week says, “Whilst caring can be hugely rewarding, it can also have a huge effect on us, our lives and our plans. Unpaid carers are often unprepared for the impact caring can have and frequently put their own health and wellbeing needs to the ‘back of the queue’.

This year, we’re asking individuals and communities up and down the UK to help unpaid carers stay ‘Healthy and Connected’. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you can make a difference by helping make it easier for people to recognise their role as a carer and get support from the communities and services around them.”

Recognising the need to support carers, FHT member and 2017 FHT Highly Commended Complementary Therapist of the Year, Anne-Marie Rose was recently quoted in an article by The Carers’ Centre (Bath and North East Somerset) charity. In the article Anne-Marie says, “I am keen to support carers in recognition for all their hard work and dedication to their caring role. I offer low cost reflexology sessions to allow carers an opportunity to take some time out from their caring duties, to focus on themselves and be nurtured in a calm and peaceful environment.”

If you are supporting carers this week, we would love to hear from you. Please send in a short post-event write-up and pictures to the FHT, so that we can potentially give you a mention in International Therapist and/or on our blog. Please email, writing Carers Week in the subject box. Please ensure that the pictures you take are high-resolution, in case we would like to include these in the magazine.

Read the Carers UK Carers Week Research Summary


Stress in infancy and its link to disease


Scientists have found evidence to suggest that emotional stress in infancy can have significant and far-reaching effects on the body, resulting in disease later in life.

Psychological stress in infancy dramatically changes the amount of an important class of proteins, called GABAA receptors, which in turn may alter the workings of the heart, lungs, kidneys and bladder.

It was already known that changes in the amounts of GABAA receptors causes some brain disorders, but researchers at the University of Portsmouth are the first to show that stress can also alter their expression in other organs.

The research team in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences studied the way GABAA receptors behave in secondary organs in mice which had first been exposed to stress.

The study provides hope that drugs targeting these receptors can now be developed to treat a range of medical conditions, from hypertension to asthma, and from diabetes to inflammatory bowel diseases.

Researcher Dr Jerome Swinny said: ‘GABAA receptors were known to control brain activity and served as important targets for many drugs used in modern medicine to treat brain disorders, such as epilepsy, anxiety as well as inducing surgical anaesthesia.

‘We were surprised to find these proteins were also found to be expressed so widely beyond the brain.

The dramatic stress-induced changes in the amounts of GABAA receptor compared to what one normally finds is intriguing. It will alter organ function and, we suggest, will contribute to diseases of the organs.’

The research, was led by senior research associate Dr Mohsen Seifi, together with Ethan Everington and Adina Gibbard who were MSc and BSc students, respectively, at the time, in the University’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences.

The research was carried out in the laboratory of Dr Swinny, a reader in neuropharmacology and one of the authors.  

He said: ‘It has long been known that childhood adversity, such as neglect or abuse, confers a vulnerability to developing a range of medical conditions later in life, including mental illnesses such as anxiety, and cardiovascular or metabolic disorders.

‘However, precisely how such emotional challenges impact on the normal functioning of different organs within our body remains elusive, which stops the development of effective drug therapies.’

The human central nervous system is designed to withstand stress, he said, and a certain amount of stress allows humans to adapt and survive in an ever changing environment. The problems begin when exposure to stress is constant.

‘A sustained threat is detrimental to our survival. The nervous system of an infant is not mature enough to be able to cope with prolonged exposure to the chemicals which mediate our stress response. As a result, such experiences often confer a vulnerability to changes to the normal development of their body and mind.

‘We know a lot about these proteins in the brain and that’s enabled us to develop drugs for associated conditions such as anxiety. We hope that this new understanding of stress and these receptors can eventually be applied to other parts of the body, to treat a wide range of disorders from hypertension, to diabetes, to an upset tummy.’

Access the research article



Having meaningful conversations in health and social care settings


NHS England is encouraging those who work in public services across the country to get involved in the ‘What matters to you?’ Day to encourage more meaningful conversations between people in health and social care settings.

The ‘What matters to you?’ Day is an annual international event, held on 6 June, that encourages and supports a person-centred approach, with meaningful conversations between people who provide health and social care and the people, carers and families who receive it. The campaign is growing, with more than 600 organisations taking part in 2017.

Rather than asking ‘what’s wrong with you?’, the ‘what matters to you?’ conversation is believed to help establish a relationship where those working in health and social care gain a deep understanding of those they are supporting. Through this, they work together to discover what will be of the greatest benefit to that person going forward, to help them live the sort of life that is more meaningful to them.

According to NHS England, the ‘What Matters to you?’ conversation can be started by asking questions, such as:

  • ‘What are the things that are important to you at the moment?’
  • ‘What would you like to achieve as a result of this care or support?’
  • ‘When you have a good day, what are the things that make it good?’
  • ‘Is there anything else you want to tell me that I haven’t asked about?’

Rather than taking more time, NHS England suggests that this approach will reduce demands on those working in health and social care, allowing them to rule out actions that don’t need to be taken and focus on what is needed.

Read more


Children at risk from black henna temporary tattoos

James Colley_low_res

A recent British Skin Foundation survey has found that 20% of children could be in danger of having serious reactions to black henna temporary tattoos.

20% of adults have also put themselves at risk by having the temporary fashion accessory which is popular at overseas holiday destinations, festivals, funfairs and the British seaside during the summer months.

Real henna is orange/brown in colour. Black henna tattoos are not based on henna at all, but a substance called paraphenylenediamine (PPD) which is found in hair dyes. PPD is allowed for use in hair dye, but its use for skin contact products, such as temporary tattoos, is illegal in the UK & Europe.

Shockingly, three quarters of people surveyed were not aware that black henna tattoos contain PPD and that when it’s used on the skin it can be dangerous.

Three quarters of people were unaware that having a black henna tattoo can drastically increase the risk of allergic reaction when using a hair dye in the future.

Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist & British Skin Foundation spokesperson says, “It’s worrying to see that the public just don’t realise the danger PPD can pose when it is used on the skin. We really want to get the message out there that so-called black henna tattoos are not safe for the skin and should be avoided at all costs. Parents, teens and even adults should stay well away from black henna tattoos this summer on holidays abroad, at festivals, funfairs or the British seaside – it’s simply not worth the risk.”

Student James Colley, 19, got a black henna tattoo on holiday in Zante last summer. What was meant to be a bit of holiday fun left him with a scar on his face.

James says, “Had I known the dangers of black henna tattoos I would have stayed away. It never crossed my mind that it might cause such a severe reaction. There was a lot of pain involved in the aftermath which is still fresh in my memory. My advice to people this summer is to stay away from black henna tattoos – no matter how much fun it seems at the time, you will regret it.”

Dr Christopher Flower, Director-General CTPA says, “There is no such thing as ‘black henna’. A large number of people are not aware that so-called black henna temporary tattoos may contain the hair dye PPD. In the UK and EU, this use of PPD is illegal. Black henna temporary tattoos can cause serious issues. Not only can they trigger extremely painful damage to skin, they may also result in life-long allergy to hair dyes. We want to warn of these dangers, and what may seem to be harmless fun for children could have serious long-term consequences.”


Sun safety message sinks in

Woman With Suntan Lotion At The Beach In Form Of The Sun

There is a growing trend of using high factor sunscreen in both the UK and abroad, according to a recent survey published by the British Skin Foundation.

Of those who use sunscreen in the UK, three in five people are using SPF 30 or higher.  More than three quarters of those surveyed who use sunscreen abroad, opt for SPF30 or higher – both in line with British Skin Foundation guidelines.

Seven out of ten of people surveyed with children use SPF 30 or higher on them in the UK. Only one in ten parents do not put sunscreen on their children in the UK at all.

Some three quarters of parents use SPF30 or higher on their children when abroad. Less than one in ten of people opt not to use sunscreen on their children whilst abroad.

Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist & British Skin Foundation spokesperson says, “It’s fantastic to see the sun safety message has hit home to the British people. It’s vitally important to protect the skin from harmful UV rays both at home and abroad. Also remember to protect children’s skin as sun damage in childhood can lead to problems – such as skin cancer – later in life.”

Getting information from a trusted source

The British public now seek sun safety advice from reputable sources. Sensibly, more than three in five people surveyed trusted sun and skin information from dermatologists.

Matthew Patey, British Skin Foundation CEO says, “I’m pleased to see that the British public are turning to medical professionals when it comes to skin advice. There’s nobody better qualified to give sun safety advice than a consultant dermatologist.”

Factors when choosing sunscreen

Pleasingly, the top influences when choosing a sunscreen were the SPF and the level of UVA/UVB protection, with three in five people stating these factors as important.

Nowadays, 86% of sunscreen users appear to understand sunscreen labelling.


Meaningful May


This month Action for Happiness urges us to focus on activities that create more meaning and purpose in our daily lives, with its Meaningful May calendar.

Like the movement’s Happy January, Friendly February, Mindful March and Active April calendars, Meaningful May includes daily suggested activities to help people gain perspective and prioritise what matters most.

Suggestions include the following:

  • Gazing up at the stars to see that we are part of something bigger
  • Find out about the values and traditions of another culture
  • Look for opportunities to be a good citizen of the world today
  • Pay special attention today to the people you cherish most

Download the calendar


Male grassroots football teams given £1m FA funding to aid retention

Football foundation

A brand new funding scheme is set to aid the retention of adult male teams within grassroots football clubs. The £1 million fund has been created to boost football’s traditional format following a recent decrease in the number of adult male FA-affiliated grassroots league teams.

Retain the Game, which is funded by The FA and delivered by the Football Foundation, is offering existing grassroots football clubs grants of £750 to continue offering valued playing opportunities in organised football. These grants will support clubs’ adult male teams in three age categories:

  • Under-17 to Under-21
  • Open Age
  • Veterans

The grants are designed to cover core costs that are incurred by grassroots clubs, including matchday and training facility hire, First Aid training and new Nike kit and equipment through a bespoke voucher.

Grassroots clubs that meet the following criteria will be eligible to apply:

  • Adult clubs with two or more adult male teams that hold the FA’s Adult Charter Standard award, Charter Standard Development or Chart Standard Community Club award
  • Adult clubs with two or more adult male teams who commit to become Adult Chart Standard within the 2018/19 season

Should the fund be oversubscribed, clubs that meet the following criteria will be prioritised:

  • Clubs in existence for ten or more seasons
  • Clubs in existence for between five and nine seasons
  • Clubs with three or more adult male teams
  • Clubs who operate in leagues employing The FA’s ‘Full Time’ system

The application window for Retain the Game is now open and closes on Wednesday 30 May. Clubs seeking more information on the programme should either contact their local County FA or

Aidy Boothroyd, England Under-21s Manager, said: “I am delighted that Retain the Game has been launched. Adult male grassroots football is a fundamental part of the game and financial support provided through this scheme will have a fantastic impact in ensuring high levels of continued participation across the country. I would encourage all eligible teams to apply by visiting the Football Foundation website.”

Retain the Game is inclusive of players from different ethnic backgrounds, faiths and sexual orientations.

This push to reverse the decline in adult male league football follows the recent Grow the Game funding window for 2018, which made £1.5 million available for grassroots clubs looking to create new women and girls or disability football teams. This offer was met by an overwhelming response and it is predicted that this year’s investment will create around 1,000 new female and disability teams in the grassroots game.