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Coronavirus Pandemic Weekly Briefs

Friday 11th September 2020

See Garden Blog Here Since our last weekly brief we have blogged about collecting mushrooms from secret locations, pollinating sweetcorn, and making some delicious pea, mint and feta fritters from Jane McClenaghan, Vital Nutrition. You can now add comments to our blog posts! So, you can ask us questions, share your stories or thoughts. Email robyn@brookehouse.co.uk to find out details on how to do this!

The next Veteran’s Produce sale is on 17th September in the Colebrooke Walled Garden from 11am to 1pm. These produce sales will continue to run until the end of October, happening every other Thursday. The October dates are the 1st, 15th and 29th. Everyone is welcome and we ask that you observe all hygiene and social distancing practices. Coffee and hot food is also on sale – come and chat a while! For more information and to let us know you are coming, drop a line to robyn@brookehouse.co.uk

Online Workshops – On Tuesday 8th September, the last of the online workshops were delivered face-to-face at Brooke House Health and Wellbeing Centre. We are keen to get your feedback on how they were for you so please keep an eye on for questionnaires coming through your mailbox. We’ll review the whole programme and questionnaires and look at plans for next steps.

The 10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide prevention is a global challenge. Nearly 3000 people on average commit suicide daily, according to the World Health Organisation. Every life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend, or colleague. But suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death.

Suicide is often the result of a coming together of several factors including psychological, social, cultural, sometimes combined with experiences of trauma and loss. We can all make a difference in preventing suicide by raising awareness about the issue, educating ourselves and others about the causes of suicide and warning signs for suicide, showing compassion and care for those who are in distress in our community, challenging the stigma associated with suicide and mental health problems, and sharing our own experiences. Everyone can contribute to preventing suicide. See ‘Step Closer’, a World Suicide Prevention Day short awareness film with a positive message encouraging connections and that we all have a role to play in working together to prevent suicide: https://youtu.be/ndjcJAaOVdg.

Samaritans have launched a self-help App to keep track of how you’re feeling, and get recommendations for things you can do to help yourself cope, feel better and stay safe in a crisis: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/self-help/

Action Mental Health are running a mental and emotional health and wellbeing awareness programme called Mindset, funded by the Public Health Agency. It will run continuously throughout the year and be delivered in all youth and community settings across Western, Northern, Belfast and South Eastern Trust areas for groups of 8 – 20 people. The programme is facilitated by AMH MensSana project workers, lasts for 3 hours, and can be delivered in person or online via Zoom. The programme aims to:

  • Raise awareness and increase knowledge and understanding of mental and emotional health and wellbeing
  • Raise awareness of signs and symptoms of mental ill health
  • Promote self-help/resilience techniques and how to maintain a safe level of positive mental and emotional health and wellbeing
  • Promote self-care
  • Provide information and/or resources on mental health support organisations available (locally and regionally)

If you are interested in Brooke House facilitating a courses please let us know at info@brookehouse.co.uk.

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

As we have moved the briefing to twice a month the next one will be due week ending the 25th September.

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 28th August 2020

See Garden Blog Here Since our last weekly brief we have blogged about making marmalade, taking rosemary cuttings and Boldor beetroot (that’s not the Pokémon character or the motorbike!). This week we are talking about onions and are sharing some delicious recipes from Jane McClenaghan, Vital Nutrition. You can now add comments to our blog posts! So, you can ask us questions, share your stories or thoughts. Email robyn@brookehouse.co.uk to find out details on how to do this!

The next Veteran’s Produce sale is on 3rd September in the Colebrooke Walled Garden from 11am to 1pm. These produce sales will continue to run until the end of October, happening every other Thursday. The September dates are the 3rd and 17th of September. Everyone is welcome and we ask that you observe all hygiene and social distancing practices. Coffee and hot food is also on sale – come and chat a while! For more information and to let us know you are coming, drop a line to robyn@brookehouse.co.uk

Online Workshops – On Tuesday 8th September from 2pm the last of the online workshops will be delivered face-to-face at Brooke House Health and Wellbeing Centre. Jane McClenaghan will be covering ‘Eating for Energy’, Siobhan and Dougal will be holding the final Horticultural Therapy workshop and Holly Reid will be hosting the final self-care workshop. Because of the latest restrictions in NI allowing only 15 people to meet outdoors, with physical distancing, we will not be able to all congregate together so instead please head to the following locations for each workshop:

  • Jane’s workshop – Brooke House, Meet at Reception
  • Siobhan/Dougal’s workshop – Colebrooke Walled Garden
  • Holly’s workshops – Brooke House, Room 2 (Downstairs)

You must confirm your attendance for these workshops and this can be done by emailing robyn@brookehouse.co.uk or by calling the office on 028 895 31223.

The 26th August was National Dog Day in the US, founded in 2004 to help galvanise the public to recognise the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year and to acknowledge family and service dogs. Research shows that dogs are good for our health and wellbeing. The physical benefits from living with and walking a dog regularly have been well documented and vary from improved cardiovascular health and increased physical activity to lower cholesterol and decreased blood pressure. It has even been estimated that they save the UK health sector £2.45bn a year as a result of fewer visits to the doctor and improved mental and physical wellbeing.

Dogs can also:

  • Teach us mindfulness – interacting with a dog provides us with an opportunity to purposely focus our attention on the present moment.
  • Relieve stress – having a chance to pet and cuddle a dog decreases our stress levels, increases feelings of happiness and raises our energy levels.
  • Lead us to nature – having a dog motivates us to get into green spaces by walking in the park, along a beach, or into the woods. And research has shown that nature can itself relieve stress, boost our mood, increase social interaction, encourage physical activity, sooth pain, and enhance our creativity.
  • Offer empathy and comfort – the spread of feelings between animals and people, known as emotional contagion, has been of growing interest to science. Dogs can sense emotions and even differentiate between good and bad ones. A trained assistance dog can perform specific tasks that will make life easier for someone suffering from PTSD such as waking them from nightmares which then improves sleep, getting someone back to the present when they suffer with dissociation, and offering behaviours to counter panic, flashbacks and anxiety attacks.

For more information on Service Dogs UK see: https://www.servicedogsuk.org/category/news/

  • Provide a sense of purpose – people are at their happiest when they feel their lives have purpose. The need to care for another being offers a reason to get up and do what needs to be done – feed them, walk them, care for them – and get affection in return.
  • Promote socialisation – walking a dog provides an opportunity to chat to neighbours and strangers – people are more likely to pass the time of day if you have a dog than if you don’t! Having social support brings us a sense of belonging and is essential to our well-being.
  • Decrease loneliness and depression – research shows that among the benefits of dog ownership is a sense of companionship and social support that can lead to less loneliness. People report lowers levels of depression when they have a dog at home.

But if you are thinking of bringing a dog into your life consider the Animal Rescue Live acronym – D.A.V.E. This stands for:

  • Donations – to your local rescue centre so that they can continue to support dogs in need.
  • Adoption – although many rehoming centres are not open for public browsing you can still make an appointment to adopt or to bring a dog to them. Many are matching dogs with their new homes virtually and some allow meetings at rehoming centres by appointment.
  • Volunteering – volunteers are crucial to many rescue centres by helping to raise money at events or in charity shops, giving a dog waiting for its new home some extra love and attention, or ensuring the centres are maintained and kept looking So, if you can’t have a dog living at home with you, this could be the next best thing!
  • Education – many rescue centres have a key role in educating the public about dog ownership, behaviours, training etc. Some of these activities may have been suspended during the pandemic so best to check with your local centre.

“Sometimes the best medicine is a dog who thinks their love can cure you”

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

As we have moved the briefing to twice a month the next one will be due week ending the 11th September.

Brooke House will be closed for the holiday on Monday 31st August. If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 14th August 2020

See Garden Blog Here Since our last weekly brief we have blogged about how to get the best from your basil and harvesting the delicious currants. This week we are sharing a delicious salsa verde recipe from Jane McClenaghan, Vital Nutrition which was covered in our Online Nutrition Workshop. You can now add comments to our blog posts! So, you can ask us questions, share your stories or thoughts. Email robyn@brookehouse.co.uk to find out details on how to do this!

The next Veteran’s Produce sale is on 20th August in the Colebrooke Walled Garden from 11am to 1pm. Everyone is welcome and we ask that you observe all hygiene and social distancing practices. Coffee and hot food is also on sale – come and chat a while! For more information and to let us know you are coming, drop a line to robyn@brookehouse.co.uk

Online Workshops – On Tuesday 25th August from 2pm to 3pm, the fifth of Jane McClenaghan’s zoom workshops will be held. The topic is “Sleep”. Everyone is welcome to join, just click this link https://zoom.us/j/94961175681 or use the following Meeting ID 949 6117 5681 on Tuesday the 25th August. To confirm your attendance and get more information or technical help for using zoom, email robyn@brookehouse.co.uk .

Veterans in NI can now benefit from free tuition in piping and drumming, thanks to an exciting new project called ‘Mind the Pipes and Drums’. Funded by the Armed Forces Covenant and led by Walking with the Wounded, the project is open to all veterans regardless of ability. There will be rehearsals in five locations across NI leading to performances in a number of venues. The project aims to improve veteran’s mental health, provide an opportunity to socialise, as well as gain skills and qualifications. If you are interested in finding out more call Ricky McGaffin on 07964 421665 or email him on mindthepipesanddrums@gmail.com.

Research evidence compiled by the What Works for Centre for Wellbeing shows that structured music and singing activities have wellbeing benefits. Listening to music can reduce stress, negative mood and anxiety and may help to prevent or reduce depression. Actively making or engaging in music can enhance our sense of purpose in life, foster happiness, and provide musical and social benefits. Being a member of a music ensemble, such as the pipes and drums project, can also support the development of musical identity, providing an opportunity to learn, build relationships and engage in a meaningful exchange with the wider community. Finally, performing and sharing the music you create with others can be very meaningful. So, take the plunge and get involved, even if it’s just to carry the kit or make the tea!

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

For the past few weeks, we have been working to make Brooke House Health and Wellbeing Centre COVID secure with a view to restarting some face to face services once we have the full team complement phased back in on the ground over August. We have been guided by national and local government and business advice, as well as professional bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive and the Society of Occupational Medicine. We have developed some client guidance for attendance which will be sited on our website soon. We hope to welcome you back to Brooke House in the very near future.

As we have moved the briefing to twice a month the next one will be due week ending the 28th August.

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 31st July 2020

See Garden Blog Here This week we are looking at harvesting onions, tasty treats from Jane McClenaghan Vital Nutrition, and foxes. You can now add comments to our blog posts! So, you can ask us questions, share your stories or thoughts. Email robyn@brookehouse.co.uk to find out details on how to do this!

The next Veteran’s Produce sale is on 6th August in the Colebrooke Walled Garden from 11am to 1pm. Everyone is welcome and we ask that you observe all hygiene and social distancing practices. Coffee and hot food is also on sale – come and chat a while! For more information and to let us know you are coming, drop a line to robyn@brookehouse.co.uk

Online Workshops

On Tuesday 11th August from 2pm to 3pm, the fourth of Jane McClenaghan’s zoom workshops will be held.

The topic is “Stress Less”. Just click this link https://zoom.us/j/97500263775 or use the following Meeting ID 975 0026 3775 on Tuesday 11th August.

To confirm your attendance and get more information or technical help for using zoom, email robyn@brookehouse.co.uk .

View the Mental Health Foundation video on Stress https://youtu.be/5eZ0xtxdVOA and maybe take a quick Stress test: https://www.bemindfulonline.com/test-your-stress.

Good friends are good for your health.

30th July is the International Day of Friendship which was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures, and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. Friends can help us celebrate good times and support us during bad times. Evidence shows that having friends can reduce the risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and being overweight.

Support from friends can also:

  • Prevent loneliness, improve happiness, and reduce stress
  • Improve self-confidence and self-worth
  • Help in coping with traumas (e.g. divorce, serious illness, job loss, the death of a loved one)
  • Increase our sense of belonging and purpose, and give us an opportunity to give friendship back
  • Encourage us to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

So, contact your friends this week. Give them a call or connect online. Or better still meet up in a COVID secure way of course! Here in NI, since Friday 24 July, up to 10 people, four households can meet indoors in private homes. Because this carries a higher risk than meeting outdoors, we should follow public health advice by:

  • limiting the duration of visits
  • ensuring good ventilation
  • maintaining good hand hygiene
  • practicing social distancing where possible
  • considering using a face covering

Experts recommend we wash hands before and after preparing food, eating and washing up; putting food straight on plates and not using large serving bowls; avoiding serving cold food which needs “handling” before and during meals, like cold meats or salads; and using detergent or soapy water to regularly wipe down tables and chairs where people put hands, fingers and elbows – then washing the cloth. Overnight stays are also now permitted. Those who are medically shielding are strongly advised to continue following the advice that remains in place for that group until the shielding period is paused on 31 July.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) video on how to break the chains of transmission can be found here: https://youtu.be/CmaA00M4kNI

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

Second wave: There has been a lot of speculation in the media recently as to whether many countries are starting to see a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Although several countries have seen a rise in infections after appearing to have the virus under control, they may still be in the first stages of the outbreak and rising cases may sometimes be down to increased testing. Spain has seen a surge in new cases – currently the infection rate there is 35.1 cases per 100,000 compared with 14.7 in the UK – resulting in a new ban on all but essential travel there, and visitors returning from Spain will have to quarantine for 14 days. Travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus  and a list of countries and territories exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel is constantly being updated here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-countries-and-territories-exempt-from-advice-against-all-but-essential-international-travel

In NI we must complete a contact declaration form that provides details of our journey, contact details and the address where we will self-isolate for 14 days if we return from a country outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) unless we are travelling from, or transiting through, a low to medium risk country that is exempt. The CTA includes the following places, and only applies if we were there for 14 days or more – England, Scotland and Wales; the Republic of Ireland; the Channel Islands; and, the Isle of Man. If we have been in the CTA for the last 14 days before entering Northern Ireland, we do not need to complete the form or self-isolate. The form can be competed 48 hours before and presented on arrival  – it can be found at the following link: Provide journey details before travel.The exempted countries can be found here: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-countries-and-territories-exemptions.

We will be moving the briefing to twice a month from now on so the next one will be due week ending the 14th August.

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk.

In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 24th July 2020

See Garden Blog Here This week we are looking at sowing on lettuce and butterflies and caterpillars present in the garden. We would be grateful for your feedback via the following link: https://forms.gle/fN2WV5xaUvxyvqEA7 This is a funded project and your feedback is very helpful for future development.

The next Veteran’s Produce sale is on 6th August in the Colebrooke Walled Garden from 11am to 1pm. Everyone is welcome and we ask that you observe all hygiene and social distancing practices. Coffee and hot food is also on sale – come and chat a while! For more information and to let us know you are coming, drop a line to robyn@brookehouse.co.uk

Online Workshops – On Tuesday 28th July from 2pm to 3pm, the third of Jane McClenaghan’s zoom workshops will be held. The topic is “Sugar fix”. Just click this link https://zoom.us/j/97500263775 or use the following Meeting ID 975 0026 3775 on Tuesday the 28th July. To confirm your attendance and get more information or technical help for using zoom, email robyn@brookehouse.co.uk .

With all the continued easing of lockdown measures here in NI it’s almost easier to list what is yet to open! Only 6 people can meet indoors and 30 outdoors, provided all social distancing adhered to. At the moment, only elite athletes can use indoor swimming pools for training. Spa resorts and hotels can open, but they cannot provide services involving water or steam, e.g. no saunas, jacuzzies, etc. We cannot use changing and shower facilities or try on clothes in shops’ changing rooms. There is no date yet for the reopening of pubs that do not serve food. Theatres have been told they can provisionally reopen from 29 July, but no date has been agreed yet to allow indoor concerts to resume, nor for nightclubs to reopen. Conference halls inside hotels and indoor venues are also still not permitted to operate. Socially distanced spectators could return to indoor sporting events from 31 August while soft play areas and snooker halls are scheduled to open from 7 August. Open air museums have been told by the executive to prepare to potentially reopen in late August, but no specific date has been confirmed yet. Of course, all this depends on the infection rate in NI continuing to fall. And we all have a contribution to make to that. This means we need to:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • limit contact with other people
  • keep our distance if we do go out (stay 2 metres apart)
  • wash our hands well and often
  • work from home if we can
  • and, do not leave home if we or anyone in our household has symptoms. If we have symptoms we should book a free test.

Every July, Samaritans branches across the UK and Ireland hold local events to talk about the services they offer in their communities. Every six seconds, Samaritans answer a call for help. Day or night, for anyone who’s struggling to cope, who needs someone to listen without judgement or pressure, they are there.

The Samaritans are also working to give people ways to cope and the skills to be there for others. Small Talk Saves Lives is a campaign to empower the public to act to prevent suicide. Suicide is preventable and suicidal thoughts are often temporary and can be interrupted. The Samaritans want to give as many people as possible the skills to notice if someone might be at risk and give them the confidence to approach them. A simple question or observation can be all it takes to interrupt suicidal thoughts and start the journey to recovery. It’s a small but simple thing. If you think somebody might need help, trust your instincts and strike up a conversation. You can’t make things worse. Watch this video for more: https://youtu.be/b4oQdeBJgRI

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Thursday 9th July 2020

See Garden Blog Here This is our 12th blog piece, and we would be grateful for your feedback via the following link: https://forms.gle/fN2WV5xaUvxyvqEA7 This is a funded project and your feedback is very helpful for future development.

Veteran’s Produce Morning

After great success this morning, the next Veteran’s Produce sale is on 23rd July in the Colebrooke Walled Garden from 11am to 1pm. Contact Robyn at Brooke House, on robyn@brookehouse.co.uk for more information. A sanitisation station is available on arrival, social distancing is essential, and payment is by cash only – you pop the exact change in a box so there is no physical contact. A price list will be visible.

Online Workshops

On Tuesday 14th July from 2pm to 3pm, the second of Jane McClenaghan’s zoom workshops will be held. This is an open group for any of our Brooke House clients. The topic is “Supporting your immune system”. Just click this link https://zoom.us/j/97500263775 or use the following Meeting ID 975 0026 3775 on Tuesday the 14th July. To confirm your attendance and get more information or technical help for using zoom, email robyn@brookehouse.co.uk .

Lockdown Update

Lockdown continues to ease here in NI. From 10 July passengers travelling on public transport will be required to wear a face covering. It is also strongly advised that we should wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible. From 31 July, if infection rates remain low, individuals will no longer need to shield and should instead follow the same guidance and precautions as those considered to be generally vulnerable. That involves taking particular care when out and about – and strictly maintaining social distancing. We are not able to travel abroad yet unless it’s essential : Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel advice but a staycation is allowed! Look out for the ‘We’re Good to Go’ certificate. This scheme has been developed in partnership with Visit England, Visit Scotland, and Visit Wales to ensure a common approach across the UK and will provide reassurance that safe working guidelines in relation to COVID-19 have been adopted. Businesses displaying the ‘We’re Good to Go’ symbol have completed a COVID-19 risk assessment and put in place measures to allow them to operate safely.

Rest and relaxation

Planned rest and relaxation calms anxiety and helps our body and mind recover from everyday stress. It gives our body time to repair, strengthen itself and replenish energy stores recovering both physically and psychologically. The importance of rest and relaxation is well-recognised – even elite athletes build recovery periods of days or weeks into a seasonal training schedule! Psychological recovery involves feelings of relaxation and re-establishing a sense of well-being and positive mood. It is important for our most valuable organ – our brain! Psychological recovery strategies:

  • Slow our heart rate and reduce our blood pressure
  • Improve the flow of blood around our body giving us more energy
  • Relieve tension
  • Help us to have a calmer and clearer mind which aids positive thinking, concentration, memory, and decision making
  • Improve digestion as we absorb essential nutrients more efficiently when we are relaxed, helping to fight off disease and infection

Relaxation techniques and good pre-sleep routines are some of the top strategies to promote psychological recovery. Relaxation techniques can include reading a book, listening to music, watching movies/television, or engaging in specialised relaxation techniques.

Sleep

Sleep is considered the most vital recovery mechanism. Adequate sleep (7-9 hours) provides regeneration and restoration of the body’s systems. It helps us adjust to the physical, neurological, immunological, and emotional stressors that may be present in our lives.

Consistent bed and wake-up times promote good sleep hygiene and adherence to a routine. A pre-sleep routine can assist with falling asleep by slowing down and reducing exposure to external stimulation (e.g., iPhone). Your routine should start with gradually winding down your body (e.g., eat, watch movie/surf internet, stretch, shower, bed) rather than winding up.

“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together”

The Sleep Council have loads of tips and resources to help us get a good nights sleep: https://sleepcouncil.org.uk/advice-support/sleep-advice/sleep-hygiene/

Sleep Matters training programme – If you’re a military veteran, have previously worked in the emergency services, are a member of St John Ambulance, work for Randox or Ulster University, you may be eligible to take part in a Sleep Matters training programme led by the University of Ulster. Contact Maguire-d21@ulster.ac.uk on 028 70123915 for more information.

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

Brooke House will be closed from Monday 13th July until Friday 17th July inclusive and so there will be no briefing next week. If you have an urgent matter, please call 07892 711217. Otherwise email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 3rd July 2020

See Garden Blog Here.

Veteran’s Produce grown in Colebrooke Walled Garden is now available every other Thursday morning, starting on Thursday 9th July 10am to 12noon at the Colebrooke Walled Garden. Contact Dougal Dorman, Head Gardener, on dougaldorman@hotmail.co.uk for more information. A sanitisation station is available on arrival, social distancing is essential, and payment is by cash only – you pop the exact change in a box so there is no physical contact. A price list will be visible.

Online Workshops have started! On Tuesday 30th June from 2pm to 3pm, the first remote workshop was delivered via zoom by Jane McClenaghan. This was an open group for any of our Brooke House clients. The topic was Eating Well in Lockdown and a downloadable pdf on the topic can be found here!    Janes next session is on the 14th July and will cover “Supporting your immune system”. Just click this link https://zoom.us/j/97500263775 or use the following Meeting ID 975 0026 3775 on Tuesday the 14th July. To confirm your attendance and get more information or technical help for using zoom, email robyn@brookehouse.co.uk .

Horticultural Therapy – a closed Group for up to 8 Brooke House clients, by invitation only, delivered by Siobhan Nolan, Horticultural Therapist, and Dougal Dorman, Head Gardener starts next week. This is the first time we have attempted to deliver the DGS remotely and we are all interested to see how it works before we think about whether we can open it more widely.

Running alongside that will be another closed group for up to 8 clients, by invitation only, on Self-Care and Wellness delivered by Holly Reid, a counsellor and facilitator with her own company – discover:develop.

As we try new ways to deliver services the NI Executive continues to release more of the lockdown measures. Now up to 30 people can meet up outdoors maintaining social distancing by being at least 2 metres apart. Since Tuesday 23 June, indoor meetings of up to six people can take place. Meeting friends and family indoors carries a higher risk than meeting outdoors. If possible, we should continue to arrange meetings with family and friends outdoors. The risk when meeting indoors can be reduced by limiting the duration of visits, ensuring good ventilation, maintaining good hand hygiene, practicing social distancing where possible and using a face covering. Guidance on how to use a fabric mask safely can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Tv2BVN_WTk&feature=youtu.be

For many of us coming out of lockdown may be associated with mixed feelings. We may feel excited about being able to do things we have wished for like meeting friends and family, getting together physically with work colleagues, getting kids back into school, going shopping and so on. At the same time, we may also be worried about using public transport, maintaining social distancing, and having all the necessary precautionary measures in place to protect ourselves and our families. We may even feel angry or frustrated if we think that other people’s choices or behaviours might increase our risk of catching the virus. It’s possible that, as lockdown eases, we may realise how hard and stressful it has been. As with any period of intense and unrelieved stress, when the stress is lifted, there is sometimes an impact on physical or mental health. But some people have even been enjoying lockdown because it has reduced some of the pressures of modern life, given us more quality time with our families and allowed us to rediscover old hobbies/interests or indeed develop new ones. And all of this is ok! It’s OK to feel uncertain, to have mixed feelings, to feel a little bit of distress. Check the ITV News and Anxiety UK video here.

But humans are social animals and we cope better in a crisis by coming together. Our mental health is better when we are at school, work and socially connected. It’s important to remember to be gentle and kind to ourselves and to show ourselves some self-compassion. It’s going to take time to readjust to life following lockdown just as it took time to adjust to lockdown. The Mental Health Foundation and MIND have both put together some tips to help: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/coming-out-of-lockdown, https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/managing-feelings-about-lockdown-easing/. And here’s a short video on managing difficult thoughts and feelings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmvNCdpHUYM.

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 07885 808550 or 07885 808546 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 26th June 2020

See Garden Blog Here

Briefing number 16 is upon us during World Wellbeing Week (22-26 June). It’s also the week when in NI groups of up to six people can meet indoors, still maintaining social distancing and with “strong advice” to wear face coverings. The regulations do not extend to overnight visits.

Online Workshops

Tuesday 30th June will see the first of our online workshops being delivered by Jane McClenaghan on Nutrition from 2pm to 3pm. This is an open group and any of our Brooke House clients can join in. Next week’s topic covers Eating Well in Lockdown – getting organised to eat well. To confirm your attendance and get more information or technical help for using zoom, email robyn@brookehouse.co.uk for lots more information!

World Wellbeing Week

World Wellbeing Week promotes awareness of the wide-ranging aspects of wellbeing. It originated in Jersey and has evolved into a worldwide event with thousands of messages, call, posts, and tweets. https://www.wellbeingworld.je/about/news/world-wellbeing-week-2020-be-celebrated-next-week/

Wellbeing has come into even sharper focus during the coronavirus pandemic and in NI a partnership of 15 leading mental health and wellbeing charities and the Healthy Living Centre Alliance (representing 28 Healthy Living Centres) alongside the Public Health Agency, Department of Health and the Department for Communities, has come together to create a COVID19 Wellbeing Hub (https://covidwellbeingni.info/ ) Here you will find a comprehensive range of information, self-help guides and ways to access help to support our mental health and wellbeing. The focus is on promoting positive mental health and wellbeing during and after the Covid19 pandemic.

Here at Brooke House we have adopted a holistic, evidence-based model of wellbeing and we focus on 4 key interlinked areas when we assess the needs of our clients – Health (both physical and mental), Home (financial and housing security); Community (being connected with others and our wider community), and Purpose (having goals and things that occupy us).

We then agree with our clients what interventions may help to improve whatever needs have been identified. We have continued to offer telephone screening appointments during lockdown with our Health and Wellbeing Coordinators but of course we are limited in the range of services we can provide due to social distancing. We can still provide either telephone or online talking therapies and are actively looking at how we can expand now that lockdown is easing. In the meantime you may find Big White Wall (https://www.bigwhitewall.com/) helpful. This is an online community for people who are stressed, anxious or feeling low. The service has an active forum with round-the-clock support from trained professionals. You can talk anonymously to other members and take part in group or one-to-one therapy with therapists.

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 07885 808550 or 07885 808546 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 19th June 2020

See Garden Blog Here

Briefing number 15 coincides with Alcohol Awareness Week (15-21 June – more about that later!) and the announcement of further lockdown easements affecting hotels, bars, restaurants, cafes, self-catering accommodation and visitor attractions such as museums, and cultural heritage sites (assuming that COVID19 precautionary measures are in place). Here in Northern Ireland we have largely been accepting of the restrictions understanding that it is in our and our community’s best interests.

Acceptance

Acceptance does not just include accepting the things we cannot change but it also includes self-acceptance. Self-acceptance encourages us to embrace our thoughts and feelings rather than fighting them or feeling guilty about them. Poor self-acceptance may disrupt the areas of our brain involved in emotional control reducing overall psychological well-being, increasing levels of stress, and minimising the benefit we might get from a range of psychological and physical health interventions. Good self-acceptance helps us to deal with any barriers in our lives that makes it difficult to achieve the things we would like to achieve.

One way to think about barriers is to think about them as ‘passengers’ on your bus of life. Life is like a journey, and you’re the driver of your bus. You want to move forward and do what’s important for you. Over the course of your life’s journey, various ‘passengers’ board your bus. They are your thoughts, feelings, and inner states. Some of these ‘passengers’ you like, such as happy memories or positive thoughts, and some you feel neutral about. And then there are the ones that you wish had not boarded the bus; they can be ugly, scary, and nasty. They might represent feelings of anxiety, fear, depression, or they can be upsetting or traumatic memories. As you drive your life’s bus these unpleasant ‘passengers’ can threaten you and want to be up front where you see them. You might stop the bus to struggle and fight with them. You might try to avoid them, distract yourself, or try to throw them off the bus, but they are your inner states, so you can’t get rid of them completely. But while your life’s journey is stopped, you’re not moving in the direction that’s important to you. You may also try to make deals with the ‘passengers’; you’ll give in and do what they tell you to do if they agree to keep quiet in the back of the bus. This may feel a little easier than fighting with them, but it means you are still distracted by them and not fully in control of the direction your bus is heading. But what if, even though these ‘passengers’ look scary, nasty, and threatening, they can’t take control unless you allow them to? What if you accept that they are part of you and that you can still travel on your life journey despite their presence?

To build up your self-acceptance, focus on the positive aspects of yourself, and reframe negative situations so that you see the opportunities in them. Have more compassion towards yourself and try some loving kindness mindfulness techniques. Like all skills, practice makes these more effective. Try this for starters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yoa_1y0KwU. If you have significant intrusive symptoms of PTSD you may wish to discuss with your therapist and/or GP before you try these techniques.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol alters our thoughts, judgement, decision-making and behaviour. It is known to increase the symptoms of panic and anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental health problems. Heavy alcohol use weakens our immune system and reduces our ability to cope with infectious diseases. Over three-quarters of adults in NI drink alcohol so the PHA and Northern Ireland’s five Drug and Alcohol Coordination Teams (DACTs) are asking people, in the absence of pub measures, to check how much they have been drinking at home with the Alcohol MOT on www.drugsandalcoholni.info/mot. Further top tips to help manage our drinking include:

  • learn how many units are in your chosen drink – visit drugsandalcoholni.info and download the ‘Know Your Units’ app
  • when drinking at home try to use a measure if you can and don’t over-pour – if you have any kitchen measuring tools, these might help you
  • have several alcohol-free days each week
  • have something to eat before you start drinking to slow down the absorption of alcohol
  • alternate each alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic drink, for example, water or a soft drink
  • never add drugs into the mix.

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

Online Workshops

Our online workshops, funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Trust are starting on Tuesday 30th June 2020. These workshops are remote, and delivered via zoom, so they can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home. Workshops are featuring the following facilitators and topics:

  • Nutrition Workshops by Jane McClenaghan: Open to all Brooke House clients. Good food has been a lifelong passion for Jane McClenaghan. Jane has been a Nutritional Therapist for over 20 years and has helped thousands of people make easy, manageable changes to their diets for the good of their health. Jane runs nutritional cookery classes and wellbeing workshops for workplaces, community groups and schools. She is well known throughout Northern Ireland as the voice of nutritional reason on BBC Radio Ulster and U105.
  • Horticultural Therapy by Siobhan Nolan and Dougal Dorman: Closed Group for Brooke House clients. Siobhan Nolan qualified in Horticulture from the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin. After teaching horticulture to early school leavers, she moved to adult education. Working with adults led her to explore the therapeutic application of horticulture, taking a degree in Psychotherapy and Integrated Counselling, followed by her MSc in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture. Dougal Dorman has been the head gardener of Colebrooke Walled Garden for the last 8 years, and has experience working with a variety of community groups throughout that time, running interactive gardening courses specialising in growing your own fruit and vegetables.
  • Self-Care and Wellness by Holly Reid: Closed Group for Brooke House clients. Holly Reid is a counsellor and facilitator and works with the aim of providing support for you to take care of your head, with mindfulness, emotional health and therapy services. Based in Fermanagh, Holly run’s day retreats, courses and workshops, as well as providing one-to-one counselling under her own brand discover:develop.

More information on this next week!

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 07885 808550 or 07885 808546 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 12th June 2020

See Garden Blog Here

Briefing number 14 arrives during Carers Week (8-14th June) – an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring and the challenges unpaid carers face, as well as recognising the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. This year the theme is Make Caring Visible which has perhaps never been truer with the additional challenges because of the coronavirus outbreak. Many of us have stepped up existing caring responsibilities or taken on new ones to look after a family member or friend who has a disability, an illness or who just needs extra help in these difficult times. Although hugely rewarding, caring responsibilities can have costs for the health and wellbeing of those doing the caring. Getting a carer’s assessment, which looks at what support might be needed, can be an important starting point to access a range of services such as a break from caring, help with getting the right equipment to care safely or getting carers support with improving our own well-being. See this link for further information: https://www.carersweek.org/images/Resources/Resources_2020/CW_2020_Caring_Information_Leaflet_3.pdf. Persisting day in day out when things are tough requires compassion and asking for help when it’s really needed requires courage. So, to all you carers out there we salute you.

Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow

Compassion for others is defined as an emotional response when we see suffering combined with the desire to help. Compassion is associated with better mental and physical health and speeds up recovery from disease; it may even lengthen our life spans. Observing acts of compassion can move us to tears which can then inspire us to help others — let’s start a chain reaction.

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

Online workshops

Last week we included a link to express interest in our Armed Forces Covenant grant funded online workshops allowing us to deliver existing and new material to support the health and wellbeing of our clients in a different way. We hope to offer online workshops in Nutrition, Gardening, Wellness and Horticultural Therapy. So far we have had a great response! There’s still time to register your interest using the following link: https://forms.gle/kzrH16VoHGrryYfh6

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 07885 808550 or 07885 808546 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Thursday 4th June 2020

Briefing number 13 (unlucky for some – more on that later!) sees NI move to the next stage of the Executives Recovery Plan. As well as being able to go to garden and recycling centres, we can now also take part in certain outdoor activities, such as tennis, golf, and angling, and meet in groups of up to six people outdoors. Of course, progress will depend on controlling the rate of transmission of the virus – something in which we all have a part to play. At Brooke House we are starting to explore how we may open more for our staff and our clients safely and slowly, in a way that is fully compliant with the social distancing guidelines.

Volunteers Week

This week (1st to 7th June) is also Volunteers Week – a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. As well as helping others, volunteering has been shown to improve volunteers’ wellbeing, gain valuable new skills and experiences, and boost confidence. We’d like to take this opportunity to give our thanks to the volunteers who help to make the Colebrooke Garden as productive and beautiful as it is.

So, back to number 13 – lucky or unlucky? There is no scientific evidence to suggest that any number is inherently lucky or unlucky, but many people believe that 13 is unlucky. There is even a term for the specific fear of the number 13 – triskaidekaphobia. And it’s a fear believed to be rooted in ancient times. The Norse god Baldur, who stood for beauty and good in the world was murdered by Loki, the 13th guest at a dinner honouring Baldur’s memory. But maybe our view on the number 13 could be coloured by our level of optimism?

 

Optimism

Psychologists report that most of the population is largely optimistic. Research has shown that higher levels of optimism are associated with better mental health, more effective pain management, improved immune and cardiovascular function, and greater physical functioning overall. It is also associated with better health outcomes after physical illness as well as increased life expectancy. It has even been shown to be connected to increased success in sports and work. Optimism is designed to give us the energy, enthusiasm, determination, and positive attitude to move forward in our lives. It helps us to appreciate the glass as half-full. Optimists tend to apply better coping strategies when faced with adversity and look for meaning in that adversity, which can make them more resilient. The good news is that, while optimism may be part of our character, it can also be learned.

A simple visualisation exercise can boost our optimism – it’s called the “best possible self” visualisation. See this YouTube video for more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNbaR54Gpj4

Take 10 minutes or more out of your day and imagine yourself in a future, say 5 years from now, that has turned out to be the rosiest that is possible (but also realistic). In this future, you have achieved all the things that you wanted to, whether that’s being at the height of your dream career, living with the love of your life, being in peak physical shape, having a small circle of close and supportive  friends, etc. You get the picture. Visualise what such a future will be like and feel like to you in as much detail as possible (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_jEsnDEIa0). The more vividly your imagination can conjure up your best possible self, the more successful this exercise is. Even if you perform the best possible self exercise just once, your optimism will get a temporary boost. And if you perform it repeatedly, say every night, or a few times a week, there will be a persistent spike in your optimism. What is more, your mood will also improve, and you will feel happier.

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

Online workshops

Last week we included a link to express interest in our Armed Forces Covenant grant funded online workshops allowing us to deliver existing and new material to support the health and wellbeing of our clients in a different way. We hope to offer online workshops in Nutrition, Gardening, Wellness and Horticultural Therapy. So far we have had a great response! There’s still time to register your interest using the following link: https://forms.gle/kzrH16VoHGrryYfh6

Garden Blog

We hope you are enjoying our Garden blog which is now support on its own site https://blog.brookehouse.co.uk/

Here you can see all our previous posts, as well as new posts every week! This week we are sharing with you planting out brassicas and how the new market garden is developing.

It is our hope to make the blog site interactive so you can comment and ask questions and share your own thoughts. Watch this space.

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 07885 808550 or 07885 808546 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 29th May 2020

Briefing number 12 comes on the end of a very sunny week in lockdown. The NI Executive has published a phased five-stage coronavirus recovery plan (https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/OUR_APPROACH_DOCUMENT_SUMMARY_12-05-2020.pdf) and as we move towards Stage one we have seen gardening centres and recycling centres start to re-open.

This week we are talking about your whole wellbeing and resilience. But first, some good news, Brooke House has been successful in obtaining grant funding from the Armed Forces Covenant to deliver online workshops during the Coronavirus Pandemic. This will allow us to deliver existing and new material to support the health and wellbeing of you, our clients, in a different way. If you would be interested in attending our online workshops, please register your interest using the following link: https://forms.gle/kzrH16VoHGrryYfh6

The 5 ways to wellbeing (Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/improve-mental-wellbeing/) are the foundations for resilience. The walls and the roof of our resilience ‘house’ are constructed from additional skills/behaviours. In briefing number 11 we covered ‘building and maintaining high quality connections’ – this week we’re talking about having meaning and purpose.

As humans we need to find purpose in what we do. Imagine being on holiday (one day soon!), relaxing with your favourite food and drink to hand, feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, listening to the waves breaking gently on the beach – you’re feeling pretty good right? How good would it feel after being sat there all day? Maybe still good. What about after a week, a month, or a year? As much as we might hate to admit it, this same pleasurable situation will gradually become less enjoyable over time and not have nearly the same effect on us as it did at the beginning. So, what’s missing? Purpose – beyond feeling good, we need to find purpose in what we do.

Resilient people have a strong sense of purpose – they know what they are doing and why. And here’s the science bit – having a sense of purpose in life has been shown to improve overall wellbeing and life satisfaction, to be good for our health and even to reduce the risk of death. What’s not to like?

We have been advised of an opportunity to help make a difference in the current situation that some of you may be interested in. PT Security Services Ltd (https://pt-ss.com/about-us) has been awarded the contract to establish and staff the Covid-19 Mobile Testing Centre in Belfast. There is a requirement for 20 members of staff to begin training immediately at the SSE Arena, Belfast. The email address for those interested in applying is info@pt-ss.com.

We all want to be part of something bigger. As an organisation we at Brooke House are looking to refresh our values and we’d be interested in hearing what you see as core to our way of doing things. Get in touch at info@brookehouse.co.uk with any ideas and please express an interest in our upcoming online workshops: https://forms.gle/kzrH16VoHGrryYfh6

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

Garden Blog

We hope you are enjoying our Garden blog which is now support on its own site https://blog.brookehouse.co.uk/

Here you can see all our previous posts, as well as new posts every week! This week we are sharing with you how to support your runner beans using hazel rods, an update from the garden and sheep shearing, no lockdown haircuts here!

It is our hope to make the blog site interactive so you can comment and ask questions and share your own thoughts. Watch this space.

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 07885 808550 or 07885 808546 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 22nd May 2020

Briefing number 11 comes towards the end of Mental Health Awareness week the theme of which is ‘kindness’.

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

Studies have found that people who carry out acts of kindness experience greater wellbeing, increased feelings of happiness, and improved life satisfaction. It does not seem to matter whether we show kindness to our friends and family, our communities or even ourselves – the effect is the same. Not only that but, just reflecting on and remembering kind things we have done in the past may also increase our wellbeing. ‘Give’ is one of the 5 ways to wellbeing that we have covered before in our previous briefings.

“Kindness is a gift everyone can afford to give”

The 5 ways to wellbeing are the foundations for resilience.

“Resilience enables us to function effectively, deal with the ups and downs of everyday life, adapt to change, bounce back from adversity and even grow as a result”.

Some researchers have termed resilience ‘ordinary magic’ because we all have it to varying degrees and we can all learn to strengthen it over time. Have a look at this video – the power of resilience with Dr Sam Goldstein, Neuropsychologist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isfw8JJ-eWM

One of the other important building blocks of resilience is developing and maintaining high quality connections (‘Connect’). Now that in NI we are permitted to be outside at a social distance with up to 6 people, we have an increased opportunity to enhance those connections. Resilient people are resourceful, and friends and family are among their most important resources. Resilient people have strong social networks, close connections to family and friends, can self-disclose about their troubles to people close to them, and ask for help when they need it

We all need to actively build and maintain our own resilience; act early on any warning signs that our resilience is under strain; and, mobilise support when our resilience is threatened. The Action for Happiness ‘10 days of Happiness’ online coaching programme will help: https://10daysofhappiness.org/

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

Garden Blog

The Garden Blog has moved to it’s new site: https://blog.brookehouse.co.uk/

Here you can see all our previous posts, as well as new posts every week! This week we are sharing with you how to grow the best carrots, an update from the garden and information about the Sika Deer who call Colebrooke Park home.

It is our hope to make the blog site interactive so you can comment and ask questions and share your own thoughts. Watch this space.

The ‘office’ will be closed for the public holiday on Monday 25th May. If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 07885 808550 or 07885 808546 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 15th May 2020

Briefing number 10 sees a furthering of the lockdown in NI. We, along with Scotland and Wales, are diverging slightly from the position in England where some easing has commenced. The NI Executive has published a phased five-stage coronavirus recovery plan (https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/OUR_APPROACH_DOCUMENT_SUMMARY_12-05-2020.pdf).

The document sets out the approach the Executive will take when deciding how to ease coronavirus restrictions in the future. There are however no fixed dates for when any single restriction will be lifted leaving us all feeling a little uncertain.

Uncertainty

As human beings, we seek security. We all want to feel safe and have a sense of control over our lives and well-being. Research shows that fear and uncertainty can leave us feeling stressed and anxious. It can drain us emotionally and trap us in a downward spiral of negativity. But it doesn’t have to be like that – there are steps we can all take to better deal with the impact of uncontrollable circumstances and manage our anxiety.

Uncertainty is often centred on worries about the future and all the bad things we anticipate happening. It can make things feel worse than they are and even paralyse us from taking action to overcome a problem.

Worrying won’t give us more control over uncontrollable events – it just takes away our enjoyment in the present, drains our energy, and keeps us awake at night! But there are healthier ways to cope with uncertainty, for example creating a ‘safe space’ in your imagination.

A ‘safe space’ is somewhere we can go to regardless of what is happening around us. Imagine a place that has a lot of positive associations, where you feel safe, comfortable, peaceful, or calm. Give it a name such as ‘home’, ‘woods’, ‘beach’ etc. Really focus on the image and describe the positive emotions it creates and notice where in your body you feel any pleasant physical sensations. Notice the sounds, smells, textures associated with the image. Make the image as vivid in your mind as you can. Identify a single word or phrase that fits the picture, e.g. “relax”, “safe”, “in control”, “at peace”.  When your mind wanders back to worrying or the feelings of uncertainty return, refocus your mind on the image and your own slow, steady, deep breathing. The more practice you put into this, the more effective it will be at helping you to manage anxiety and worry.

And, without some uncertainty and unpredictability, we would never have any surprises. As we have seen during this pandemic, good things do sometimes happen unexpectedly – the rise of volunteering and acts of kindness for instance. Facing uncertainty in life can also help us learn to adapt, overcome challenges, and increase our resiliency. It can help us to grow.

“Tomorrow will be a good day” – Captain Tom Moore)

Garden Blog

For many of us Brooke House and especially the Garden might be our safe space. We hope you are enjoying our Garden blog: https://brookehouse.co.uk/walled-garden-blog/

This week features tips on hardening plants and growing potatoes.

Mental Health

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 07885 808550 or 07885 808546 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk.
Out of hours, in a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Thursday 7th May 2020

Briefing number 9 falls on an auspicious week. This year’s early May Bank Holiday has been moved back by four days to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day marking the day, towards the end of World War Two, when fighting came to an end in Europe. This holiday was to form part of a three-day weekend of commemorative events to remember and honour the heroes of the Second World War and reflect on the sacrifices of a generation. But all that was before the lockdown and the need for social distancing. But there is no reason why we can’t still mark the occasion.

On Wednesday evening of this week, four members from Maguiresbridge Silver Band, came to the Walled Garden to help us to create a short clip to help celebrate VE Day. We hope you enjoy it. It can be viewed here https://youtu.be/MxL4JQBxO_Q

A host of virtual and remote initiatives have been planned including a UK-wide two-minute silence at 11am, church bells being rung to mark the moment the guns of the Second World War fell silent, and a 9pm singalong to Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again. Belfast City Hall will be illuminated and in Fermanagh there will be the projection of two beams of light in Enniskillen from Thursday to Saturday, to replicate the V for victory sign which lit up the skies in 1945. We’re all being encouraged to take part in the nation’s toast from the safety of our own homes at 3pm on Friday.

Food and mood

Weekly wartime food rations made creative cooks of everyone and there was little in the way of treats. You went to the butcher for weekly meat rations, visited the baker for your allocation of bread and so on. Some similarities with the lockdown you may think! But people now have more of an opportunity to adopt unhealthy behaviour patterns – overeating the wrong kinds of foods and drinking more. There are physiological reasons for some of these behaviours – when the body is stressed it produces too much cortisol, which makes us more likely to over-eat, particularly foods which are high in fat and sugar. The Association of UK Dietitians have written an article with hints and tips to help us eat for a healthy body and mind during the COVID-19 pandemic – https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/eating-well-during-coronavirus-covid-19.html.

But food also affects our mood directly for instance, protein (found in lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, peas, beans, lentils etc) contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals our brain needs to regulate our thoughts and feelings. MIND, the mental health charity, has information exploring the relationship between what we eat and how we feel, including tips on how to incorporate healthy eating into our life. https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/2929/food-and-mood-2017.pdf

Jane McClenaghan, a BANT Registered Nutritional Therapist, who ran a number of courses for us earlier this year has launched a Tuesday Teabreak where, every Tuesday morning at 10am, we can join her in her kitchen for an informal chat and catch up on all things nutrition. From planning healthy meals, to making sense of food labels and using simple ingredients in creative ways. We’re hoping to do some more work with Jane through lockdown so watch this space!

Garden Blog

We hope you are enjoying our Garden blog. This week we share with you an update from Dougal, how to look after your potatoes and carrots, and pictures of the Bluebells starting to appear in the Colebrooke woodland: https://brookehouse.co.uk/walled-garden-blog/

Veterans’ Gateway

A 24-hour point of contact for veterans’ support, has launched a new app enabling any ex-Service personnel who are in need to get help with issues such as finances, housing, employment, relationship, physical and mental health. The link to the Directory of Local Support is here: https://www.veteransgateway.org.uk/local-support/. There is also a new category within the Local Support tool entitled Covid-19 Local Support that lists local ‘pop-up’ volunteer services. These have a Covid-19 icon to help individuals find them easily. The App also has links to allow an individual to call, email or live chat with the team at the contact centre – that continues to be fully manned 24/7 by Connect Assist advisers. The Veterans’ Gateway app is available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play: https://support.veteransgateway.org.uk/app/answers/detail/a_id/820 There is also a YouTube video of the app in use.

Mental Health

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

We will be closed on Friday 8th for the May Day holiday. If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk. In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 1st May 2020

Welcome to the eighth weekly briefing from Brooke House. This is our way of keeping you up to speed with events and providing information and tools to help us all manage through these unusual and unsettling times.

Food parcels

As you know, we have been assisting those of you who don’t have local support with a food delivery – if you think you would now benefit from this scheme please get in touch and we will discuss your needs with you. We will also call The Walled Garden Blog will contain information about what's happening in the Walled Garden.those who received a delivery previously to see if your needs have changed.

Garden Blog

We hope (more about hope later!) you enjoyed the first ever Garden blog, we have published another one today, they are available here: https://brookehouse.co.uk/walled-garden-blog/

Our plan is to publish this blog weekly, on a secure, interactive site so you can get involved by sending us your questions, sharing photos and much more! We hope to have this in place by next week.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow

 

Mental Health

Information and links to the previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/.

This week our focus is on Hope. The Rainbow of Hope has become a national symbol for supporting the NHS and getting through the coronavirus pandemic together.

Hope has been shown to be connected to mental health, happiness, satisfaction with life, and psychological well-being across all age groups. There is an association between high hope and lower levels of depression, while low hope is associated with a reduction in well-being. Research has also shown that hope acts as a protective factor during life crises. People who have high levels of hope view barriers as challenges to overcome and can more easily find another way to achieve their goals.

If we can value the positive things in life and be thankful for all the good, instead of worrying about what we don’t have or can’t change, our hope will grow. Like a virus, hope can also be transmitted to others but, unlike a virus, providing hope to others makes us feel happier and makes our lives feel more meaningful.

Here’s an example of someone who did just that: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-52355122

Action for Happiness have produced a ‘Coping Calendar’ with 30 suggested actions to look after ourselves and each other as we face this global crisis together. You can download it as a PDF for printing, or pass it on to others and help spread the word.

To sum up, hope can protect us against negativity and despair. It helps us keep in sight a better future in times of adversity, uncertainty, and crises.

Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence

 

May Day Holiday

We will be closed on Friday 8th for the May Day holiday. If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 24th April 2020

Briefing number seven is here already and we have just had the ‘lockdown’ restrictions extended for another 3 weeks. You will recall the Government advice to:

As a result, all the Brooke house staff will be continuing to work from home until the advice changes.

Walled Garden Blog

We have developed in conjunction with Colebrooke Walled Garden, a blog to help keep members and friends of the Walled Garden in touch with what is happening during the Coronavirus lock down and beyond. This blog also contains information about the wider happenings in Colebrooke Park, check it out here: Walled Garden Blog

Food parcels

As you know, we have been assisting those of you who don’t have local support with a food delivery – if you think you would now benefit from this scheme please get in touch and we will discuss your needs with you.

Mental Health

As the lockdown continues there is increasing focus on mental health and wellbeing. We have already provided information and links to our website (https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/), the Health and Social Care NI leaflet – ‘Take 5 steps to wellbeing’, an NHS Scotland resource called ‘Tips on how to cope if you are worried about Coronavirus and in isolation’, and the Action for Happiness’ 3 good things exercise.

This week our focus is on self-soothing techniques. These are simple things that you can do wherever you are that can bring calm to your mind and body. The most effective techniques involve one or more of our five senses – touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Here are some examples:

  • Touchsoak in a warm bath, sit (with sunscreen!) in the warmth of the sun, stretch your muscles, stroke your cat or dog.
  • Taste – sip a cup of soothing herbal tea, suck a mint, treat yourself to an ice lolly from the freezer.
  • Smell – take a sniff of the flowers in your garden, take a deep breath of fresh air, light a scented candle.
  • Sight – read a good book, watch the clouds pass by, watch an entertaining TV programme/film, picture your loved ones.
  • Sound – listen to relaxing music, sing to yourself (or your neighbours!), try some positive statements out loud like I choose hope over fear, Positivity is a choice that I choose to make, I am grateful for the things I have, I can go with the flow.

When trying these techniques focus completely on the task. If you get distracted simply bring your focus back. The more you practice the more effective they will be. 

Other Helplines

Specialist helplines providing a variety of vital support services including information, advice, counselling, a listening ear, and befriending are available through the Helplines Network NI.

Helplines are confidential, non-judgemental, and accessible sources of information, advice, and support. The Helplines Network NI website provides a single point of access to NI Helplines telephone numbers and websites. For further information visit www.helplinesnetworkni.com.

Lifeline is a free, confidential telephone helpline available anytime every day on 0808 808 8000. Counsellors answer all telephone calls. They listen, help, and support you in confidence. They do not judge you. They can deal with different concerns including depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide, trauma, sexual violence, and abuse. Lifeline can arrange an appointment for face-to-face counselling or other therapies in your area within seven days. They can put you in touch with follow-up services, so you get the best possible response.

If you have any queries or need additonal advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 17th April 2020

This is the Brooke House briefing number six and will be slightly ‘briefer’ than usual due to the Easter break. We hope you all had a restful one.

Reading

In these unusual times many of us are rediscovering the joy of the written word. Not only is reading pleasurable, but research has shown that it can help to reduce stress. Reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 60% by slowing your heart rate, easing muscle tension and altering your state of mind. It often provides an ‘escape’ from the worries of the day, has been shown to slow memory loss and is good for our mental health.

In case you are not aware, thousands of eBooks and Audiobooks are available to download for free from Libraries NI. You can borrow up to eighteen at a time for three weeks. To make use of this great free service you need to have a Libraries NI membership number. If you have a smartphone or tablet device download the Libby App or Overdrive App and create an account (Choose Libraries NI as your library). For PCs and laptops you need to install Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software. So, get reading!

Additional support

So far we have made you aware of our website (https://brookehouse.co.uk/about/), the Health and Social Care NI leaflet – ‘Take 5 steps to wellbeing’, and an NHS Scotland resource called ‘Tips on how to cope if you are worried about Coronavirus and in isolation’.

This week we’re focussing on gratitude – a thankful appreciation for what we receive and an acknowledgement of the goodness in our lives. Gratitude helps us connect to something larger than ourselves, be that other people, nature, or a higher power. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness and higher overall wellbeing. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. We can all cultivate gratitude on a regular basis and, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice. You could write a thank-you note, thank someone mentally, or keep a gratitude journal, reflecting on what you are grateful for. See Action for Happiness’ 3 good things exercise: https://www.actionforhappiness.org/take-action/find-three-good-things-each-day

If you have any queries or need additonal advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

 

Thursday 9th April 2020

This the fifth of our Brooke House updates. We hope you have been receiving the previous ones and finding them useful?

Telephone checks

It’s been great to hear how supported most of our clients are during these challenging times. Many of you have family and friends who have rallied round or local services/shops who have stepped up to deliver groceries and/or medicines. We have supplemented this with additional support through a food parcel to some of you and many of these have now been delivered or are on their way.

We also want to make you aware of the Department for Communities NI food parcel initiative recently announced: https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/news/hargey-announces-thousands-benefit-food-parcels-service. If you are in receipt of a GP shielding letter or otherwise vulnerable you may be eligible for a weekly food parcel delivery. Ring 0808 802 0020, email covid19@adviceni.net or text ACTION to 81025. You will be assessed and, if suitable, you will receive deliveries through the registered voluntary/community groups operating in the area. If there are medical related supplies in the parcel, deliveries will be authorised by a community pharmacist.

Additional support

For those of you who prefer phone contact rather than emails we are setting up a periodic call system with our Health and Wellbeing Coordinators. We have also re-launched our website which, for the duration of the pandemic, will have regularly updated information and materials: https://brookehouse.co.uk/about/.

Last week we provided a link to the Health and Social Care NI leaflet – Take 5 steps to wellbeing. This week we’re pointing you to a very good NHS Scotland resource called ‘Tips on how to cope if you are worried about Coronavirus and in isolation

We are planning to take a break for Easter so the ‘office’ will be closed from Friday 10th to Tuesday 14th April inclusive.  Otherwise you can call us on 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk at any time if your circumstances change or you think we might be able to help with something.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 3rd April 2020

This the fourth of our Brooke House updates. Home working has not been without its challenges for our staff what with issues around connectivity and online tools! However, we are working our way around these.

New referrals, initial screenings and reviews

Since we started working from home, we have only received 3 new referrals which is not unexpected given the current situation. We have started to carry out initial screenings by telephone.

Interventions

All face-to face interventions have had to cease which means complementary therapies, physiotherapy, groups etc are on hold for now. However, approximately 20 of our clients remain in talking therapy and a few have been newly referred for this – all delivered remotely.

Telephone checks

We have also managed to call over 200 of you individually to check in and see if you are supported locally or need our help with anything. This has led to us arranging a small number of food deliveries across Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh for those who cannot manage to access food and supplies themselves using an existing support network. We are continuing with this work across the rest of NI. Most people we talk to have asked for ongoing contact by email and one or two have asked for a periodic telephone call which we will set up with the Health and Wellbeing Coordinators.

Additional supportTake5

Health and Social Care in NI have produced a leaflet based on the Take 5 steps to wellbeing. This leaflet offers tips on supporting your mental and emotional wellbeing while staying at home during the current coronavirus outbreak. You can find it here: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/take-5-steps-wellbeing-looking-after-your-mental-health-while-you-stay-home

Just a reminder to all of you that you can call us on 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk at any time if your circumstances change or you think we might be able to help with something.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

Friday 27th March 2020

This the third of what we hope will be fairly regular updates as we all see our way through the coronavirus pandemic. Currently all our substantive staff have transferred to home working.

New referrals, initial screenings and reviews

We are still receiving new referrals although we anticipate that these will drop off significantly in the coming weeks as people reprioritise and as a result of a lack of active promotion on our part. We are also conducting initial screenings and reviews by telephone wherever possible. These will be carried out by 3 new staff members: Amanda Armstrong, Andrea Milligan and Christine Spence.

Interventions

We have provided our Associate Talking Therapists with some guidance on how to maintain therapy remotely either by telephone or using an online platform. For those of you involved in this as clients you will receive some guidance shortly to help you manage this new way of working.

Telephone checks

For us to fully understand your current circumstances and how we might be able to support you further, we will be calling you all individually over the next few weeks. We’d like to know who is around to provide you with any practical support you may need at this time. It would also be useful for us to know if you have any benefits and/or pension concerns as we may be able to connect you with advice on this. We would also like to check that you still want ongoing contact with us. Some people prefer to wait until things are more settled, others are happy enough with periodic emails where others appreciate the option of a telephone call from time to time.

Future support

Once we have bedded in our new processes, we will start to work up some materials to help us all manage our psychological, and physical, wellbeing in these challenging times. Please watch this space.

Please do not come to the Centre in person. Instead call 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

 

Wednesday 18th March 2020

As you know the situation in relation to the coronavirus pandemic in the UK changes daily. In response to the most recent Government advice and in order to protect our clients, our employees and NHS capacity in the coming weeks, Brooke House is suspending normal services effective immediately. We will be supporting our employees to work from home wherever possible.

We are investigating the facilities for potentially delivering the following remotely, either by telephone or online:

  • Screening appointments following referral
  • Review appointments on completion of services
  • Psychological assessment appointments
  • Talking therapies interventions (Counselling, Clinical Psychology) – if your therapist has already made arrangements directly with you then please continue with that.

Please do not come to the Centre in person. Instead call 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk. We will be contacting you all in the coming days with further updates so please keep an eye on your emails or for those of you who do not have an email address we will try to call instead.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

These are:

  1. Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms: If you experience recent onset of a new continuous cough and/or high temperature, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. See: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/
  2. Only use the NHS 111 online or telephone service if needed: If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online or call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
  3. Wash your hands: Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds. Always wash your hands when you get home or into work and/or after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. Clean and disinfect door handles, objects and surfaces using suitable cleaning products.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze: To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
  5. Keep more physically distant from other people: Do not use public transport unless you have to. Work from home, if you can. Avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas. Avoid events with large groups of people. Use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services.

As things change so may this advice and we will attempt to keep you as up to date as possible. In the meantime, look after yourselves and others.

 

Monday 16th March 2020

As you know the situation in relation to the coronavirus pandemic in the UK changes daily. In response to the most recent Government advice and in order to protect our clients, our employees and NHS capacity in the coming weeks, Brooke House is suspending normal services effective immediately. We will be supporting our employees to work from home wherever possible.

In particular, we will no longer deliver the following at all until advised it is safe to do so:

  • Complementary therapies (Acupuncture, Massage, Reflexology, Aromatherapy)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Groups (Horticultural Therapy, Fishing)
  • Structured Residential Programme

We are investigating the facilities for potentially delivering the following remotely, either by telephone or online:

  • Screening appointments following referral
  • Review appointments on completion of services
  • Psychological assessment appointments
  • Talking therapies interventions (Counselling, Clinical Psychology) – if your therapist has already made arrangements directly with you then please continue with that.

Please do not come to the Centre in person. Instead call 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk. We will be contacting you all in the coming days with further updates so please keep an eye on your emails or for those of you who do not have an email address we will try to call instead.