New Sensory Space Opened in Children’s A&E Department at The Royal Oldham

A fantastic new sensory space has been officially opened by the Mayor of Oldham, Cllr Javid Iqbal in the Children’s A&E Department at The Royal Oldham Hospital, thanks to grant funding received from SicKids Charity and The Royal Oldham League of Friends.

The new sensory space is a colourful cubicle in the paediatric area of the Accident and Emergency Department, which has been designed with the help of SicKids Charity. SicKids worked closely with children and young people who have a learning disability, complex needs or autism and their families to design and create an environment that will cater to the needs of young children when they find themselves in an unfamiliar, stressful situation when attending the hospital’s busy A&E Department.

The new sensory space includes many great features including an interactive wall display, a changing colour bubble tube, optic lights, mats for the floor, a TV, ceiling lights, bean bag and a range of sensory hand-held toys, all of which will keep young children well entertained and relaxed during their time in the A&E department.

Lauren Gilmore, Paediatric Senior Sister in the Children’s A&E Department at The Royal Oldham submitted a grant application to SicKids earlier in the year for £2,100 to fund the sensory space and this was very kindly match funded by The Royal Oldham League of Friends, which enabled plans for the fantastic new space to go ahead.

Lauren explains how the new sensory space will really benefit some of the hospital’s youngest patients: “Coming to hospital can be a really stressful experience for young children, especially when they’re poorly. This new space will help us to create a more positive and relaxing atmosphere for children and their families. The beauty of the space is that it can also be used as a fully functioning area of the department when these services aren’t needed. We cannot thank SicKids and The Royal Oldham Hospital League of Friends enough for their very kind donations, which have made this fantastic new space possible. It really will make the world of difference to the children who have to visit the department.”

SicKids is a registered charity that specialises in the provision of SicKids Sensory Spaces, a concept it co-created with children and young people and their families. Sensory equipment is designed specifically to support the development of the senses – like touch, hearing and sight – through things like special lighting, music, and tactile objects. For some children with developmental delay, a sensory room could mean the difference between long term disabilities and mobility issues, and good health and happiness.

Director of Nursing at SicKids, Dianne Cook said: “It’s amazing that children, young people, and their families have co-designed this facility. Having a state-of-the-art sensory space in the children’s Emergency Department will really help the hospital to deliver better care to children and young people who attend the department with a learning or physical disability. It will also make the environment much more welcoming for children who are frightened about coming to hospital.”

For more information on the work that SicKids do, please visit their website: or follow them on Twitter: @SicKidsuk.

For any media enquiries, please contact Josie Neil, Communications and Engagement Lead on: 0161 6278703 or by e-mail:

Making sure no one feels alone this Christmas

Oldham Cares staff and Oldham Council officers and ward members are helping to contact thousands of vulnerable and elderly people to make sure they’re safe and well ahead of Christmas.

The MioCare Group, which is responsible for delivering social care in Oldham and a key player in the Oldham Cares alliance, calls its Helpline and Response customers in the run up to the festive period every year.

The annual ring round started on Monday, December 17 and continues until Christmas Day.

It will see various teams from the MioCare Group calling local vulnerable and older people who may not receive any other services or support.

This year the teams were joined by Oldham councillors including Councillor Sean Fielding, Oldham Council Leader, Councillor Zahid Chauhan, Cabinet Member of Health and Social Care, and Councillor Fida Hussain, Chair of the MioCare Group board.

Callers are speaking to residents to make sure they’re prepared for the festive period – for instance checking that their heating is working and that they have enough food and medicine at home.

This is also an opportunity to reassure residents that they’re not alone over Christmas, and let them know that the Helpline and Response Service will be operating 24-hours a day in case of emergencies.

Cllr Chauhan said: “We know many of our elderly residents need extra support at this time of year. They may not be able to leave their home as it gets darker earlier or when it’s icy and cold.

“This also impacts on loneliness, which we know is a huge risk to people’s wellbeing.

“Our annual ring round is a great way for us to do #ourbit and make sure that residents with limited mobility don’t feel abandoned. A simple phone call can make all the difference to make sure they’ve got enough to eat or that their home is warm enough.

“We’re also urging you to do #yourbit and look out for your elderly and vulnerable neighbours and friends – perhaps by making sure their bins are out on icy mornings, or simply popping over for a cup of tea – a friendly face will always be welcome.

“The #result is that no one feels alone this Christmas in Oldham.”

Staff at Oldham Council have also been doing their bit to help spread festive cheer by taking part in the annual Christmas Toy appeal.

This ensures that children who may not otherwise receive a gift have a present to open on Christmas Day morning. More than 250 presents were donated by staff from across the local authority.

Stay well this winter

Winter conditions can be seriously bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 or older, and people with long-term conditions such as COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, diabetes or heart or kidney disease.

Being cold can raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. The cold and damp weather, ice, snow and high winds can all aggravate any existing health problems and make us more vulnerable to respiratory winter illnesses.

But there are lots of things you can do to stay well this winter.

Choose well

Our Accident and Emergency (A&E) department can get very busy at times and you may wait longer than normal to be seen, for example in winter and over bank holidays.

999 and A&E services are for people with serious injuries, illnesses and emergencies.

There are a number of other healthcare services that people can use for minor ailments and injuries, such as walk-in centres, urgent care centres and minor injuries units. And pharmacists can give advice and over-the-counter treatments for coughs, colds and stomach upsets such as sickness and diarrhoea.

  • Local pharmacies offer fully trained health professionals who can provide quality healthcare advice instantly. To find your nearest pharmacy, text ‘pharmacy’ to 64746.
  • Self-care – for treatment of minor winter illnesses, by combining a well stocked medicine cabinet with plenty of rest.
  • NHS 111 (dial 111 from your phone)/or visit the 111 website – for absolutely any health questions, around the clock, and to find local services.
  • Pharmacist – for advice on common illnesses (inc winter colds), and the best medicines to treat them.
  • GP – for medical advice, examinations and prescriptions for illnesses you just can’t shake off.
  • NHS Walk-in Centre – for treatment of minor illnesses or injuries, without an appointment.
  • A&E or 999 – for critical or life-threatening situations.

For health advice and reassurance 24/7 contact NHS 111 on (dial 111 from your phone)/ or visit the 111 website

Keep your house warm

Follow these tips to keep you and your family warm and well at home:

  • If you’re not very mobile, are 65 or over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease, heat your home to at least 18C (65F)
  • Keep your bedroom at 18C all night if you can – and keep the bedroom window closed
  • During the day you may prefer your living room to be slightly warmer than 18C
  • To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), babies should sleep in rooms heated to between 16C and 20C
  • If you’re under 65, healthy and active, you can safely have your home cooler than 18C, if you’re comfortable
  • Draw curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to block out draughts
  • Get your heating system checked regularly by a qualified professional Warm Homes Oldham

The Warm Homes Oldham scheme is an award winning free service for Oldham residents, providing advice, support and energy saving measures to residents that are struggling to pay their energy bills and to heat their homes.

You can arrange a free home visit with our team who will assess your situation and see if you can be offered any of the following:

  • Insulation and heating measures (subject to eligibility and survey)
  • Small energy saving measures (like draught proofing and radiator foils)
  • Advice on how to reduce energy use around the home and use heating controls effectively
  • Support with switching energy tariffs, maximising income, claiming benefit entitlements and getting out of fuel debt

To find out more, arrange a survey or make a referral please contact Warm Homes Oldham on:

“I won’t get sleighed by flu – and neither should you!”

Santa urges Oldham’s over 65s to get their jab done before flu season gets going…

Santa took a break from grotto duties this week and got his free flu jab to make double sure he’s on top-form for the festive season.

As with all over 65s, Santa is eligible for a free flu vaccination, available now from pharmacies or GP surgeries. People with long-term health conditions, people with a BMI of 40+ and pregnant women are also eligible. Children up to school year five can also have their vaccination free with a nasal spray at a GP surgery or through school.

Santa said: “With all of the world’s children relying on me, I couldn’t take the risk of getting flu at my busiest time of year. I’ve got grotto duties, supervising the elves and then I’ve got a fair bit to do on Christmas Eve!

“There’s no way I was going to risk getting flu and letting everyone down, so I invited Irene Shepherd, Flu Lead and Governing Body Nurse for NHS Oldham CCG to sort my jab out.”

He added: “I was a touch apprehensive but I barely felt a thing and I was back making wishes come true within a few minutes. I feel safe in the knowledge that I won’t be coming down with a nasty flu in the next couple of weeks.”

Irene said: “Getting flu is ‘snow’ joke, especially at this time of year when people are busy and have plans with the family – it’s so much worse than a bad cold. Getting it would absolutely ruin anyone’s Christmas and for certain people catching it can be really, really serious.

“So when the big man said he wanted me to come to the Spindles and get his flu vaccination done I was more than happy to oblige. He’s a very important chap to children everywhere and people all over Oldham rely on him. We were glad to have done our bit to ensure everyone has a Christmas cracker.”

Social Action Fund launches to reduce social isolation and loneliness

Social Action Fund

Oldham Cares is launching a new Social Action Fund to tackle social isolation and loneliness in communities across the borough.

Around 10 per cent of local residents across all ages currently self-identify as being lonely.

That is a figure mirrored nationally and leads to impacts on health and mortality which are as important as other risk factors like high blood pressure, obesity and smoking.

That’s why Oldham Cares’ Thriving Communities programme is now making £850,000 available to fund two to four projects over a three-year period that will help people to become more socially connected.

Applications are sought from the Voluntary, Community and Faith and Social Enterprise sector (VCFSE) and partners who can show how their proposed project will improve residents’ lives.

The projects will need to reduce social isolation and loneliness, as well as meeting one or more of Oldham Cares’ priorities for health and wellbeing which are: reducing waiting times at A&E; improving mental health, tackling child obesity, preventing diabetes, and improving out of hospital care and support.

Full details and an expression of interest form are available now on the Oldham Cares website.

A ‘Meet the Funder event’ is also being held on 10 December from 9am to 12noon at Oldham Civic Centre enabling interested parties to find out more and help us to shape and develop ideas leading into the next stage of the fund process.

Councillor Zahid Chauhan, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said “Social isolation and loneliness is on the increase and that’s why we are making a real commitment to tackling this in Oldham with a community-led approach.”

“This is just one way we are tackling the issue and we’re looking forward to working with successful applicants to build on the strengths that already exist within our communities.”

Councillor Sean Fielding, Oldham Council Leader, added: “This is a really exciting opportunity that can help to make a real difference to many people’s lives across our borough.”

“We’re looking forward to welcoming applicants to the Meet The Funder event where we can share innovative ideas about how we can connect people to each other, and help them to enjoy everything their community has to offer.”

To attend the Meet The Funder event, please contact or visit for more information.

Oldham’s Community Transformation

Oldham is a co-operative borough that is working to build thriving communities, integrate services and to adopt an inclusive approach to Economic Growth.

As part of this model we are adopting a whole population, whole system and placed based approach to early intervention and prevention.

Read more on GOV.UK

The Big Alcohol Conversation

£1.3 billion: the staggering annual cost of alcohol to Greater Manchester revealed as Mayor Andy Burnham invites residents to have their say on tackling the harm

  • Alcohol harm reaching further into our communities than commonly recognised, with higher earners the most likely to drink beyond recommended limits
  • Thousands of Greater Manchester children living with alcohol-dependent or binge-drinking adults, causing anxiety, worry and stress
  • Residents encouraged to join in The Big Alcohol Conversation and help identify new actions for reducing alcohol’s impacts across the city region

Harms associated with alcohol are costing Greater Manchester’s public services £1.3 billion a year, new figures announced today reveal. Amounting to almost £500 for every resident, this is the annual amount we are paying through health, social care, crime and work costs because of the way we drink.

The stark figure was announced by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership as they launched The Big Alcohol Conversation, a major new initiative exploring alcohol-related harm across the city region.

More than 22,000 Greater Manchester hospital admissions a year are directly caused by alcohol, while almost a quarter of our residents (23%) say that there is a big problem with people being drunk or rowdy in public places.

But beyond such visible signs, the hidden harms run deeper into our communities than is commonly recognised.

Higher earners are the most likely people to drink beyond the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended guideline of 14 units a week. More than 1 in 3 men in wealthier households regularly exceed this recommended limit; over twice as many women in such households do so compared to those in the poorest households. Regularly drinking beyond 14 units a week increases the risks of a range of illnesses, such as cancers, heart and liver disease, brain damage and dementia.

Meanwhile, over 15,000 Greater Manchester children live with alcohol dependent adults. In addition, almost 1 in 3 under 16s have previously been estimated to live with at least one parent who binge drinks – the equivalent of 165,000 children across the city region.

While 90% of parents feel it is their responsibility to set a good example with their drinking, only half of children say their parents’ drinking behaviour provides a positive role model. This insight – from a report by the Institute of Alcohol Studies – revealed that adults’ drinking can result in feelings including embarrassment, anxiety, fear and poor emotional health and wellbeing among children, and that our permissive pro-alcohol environment has led to normalisation of drinking which masks these impacts.

In response to these findings, the Big Alcohol Conversation is examining the scale and nature of alcohol-related harm across Greater Manchester and identifying how it can best be reduced. The wide-reaching engagement exercise is looking to gather the views of thousands of people across the city region, learning more about the role of alcohol in their lives and communities and their opinions on ways in which a safer approach to alcohol can be secured.

Thanks to the city region’s devolution agreement with central Government, a number of new potential options are available to help tackle alcohol-related harm in Greater Manchester. Possible actions which could be introduced subject to public support include additional restrictions on the marketing and sale of alcohol, increased information and education around related harms, greater opportunities for people to socialise without alcohol, and easier access to high quality support.

Any new measures would build on some innovative steps already introduced across Greater Manchester.

These include a pioneering Communities in Charge of Alcohol programme through which local volunteers are trained as community alcohol health champions to provide advice and help create a more responsible approach to alcohol in neighbourhoods that experience particularly high levels of alcohol-related harm.

In addition, the Mayor and his night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord has announced funding for an extra 150 Drinkaware ‘crew’ staff members in bars and clubs to promote a positive social atmosphere and help those who may be vulnerable as a result of drinking too much alcohol.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “Greater Manchester is an amazing place to live and to visit, with a vibrant nightlife and a strong sense of togetherness. No-one is saying that people shouldn’t enjoy themselves with a drink, but it’s also true that alcohol abuse is causing more harm to people and communities than is often recognised. I’m calling on residents and businesses to join in our Big Alcohol Conversation as we seek to minimise alcohol harm.”

Sarah Price, executive lead for population health and commissioning in Greater Manchester, said: “Alcohol is having serious impacts on our residents, our communities and our public services. But just as important are the hidden harms – affecting many more individuals and their families than is often recognised. The Big Alcohol Conversation is all about identifying the scale and nature of these harms, and coming together to help tackle them”.

Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s night time economy adviser and Warehouse Project and Parklife co-founder, said: “Responsibility for the harms of alcohol is so often placed at the doors of pubs and clubs and many of our younger visitors. But through initiatives such as the Greater Manchester Operators’ Standard – a first for the UK – our city region’s hospitality sector is leading the way in improving the way we do business. There is an increasing trend of many of our younger customers drinking more responsibly. We need to build on this and encourage similar shifts in behaviour across the alcohol industry and our wider society. The first step in this is talking with people. That’s why I’m backing the Big Alcohol Conversation and calling on my industry partners to support it too”.

James Carter, a Communities in Charge of Alcohol (CICA) volunteer alcohol health champion from Salford, said: “I started drinking with friends in the 90’s. It was just a bit of fun and it didn’t seem a problem – but it became every day. After I had an internal bleed, I thought ‘I’m not going to drink anymore’. The first year was really hard, I didn’t seek the help I needed. When I did go to my local support service, it was a slow process, I was fighting a battle and just hoped I could make it through. After I received so much help I thought I want to use the knowledge I’ve got to give something back’.

The Big Alcohol Conversation is running until the end of February 2019. People can get involved by visiting, using #GMbigalcoholconversation on social media, or by attending a Big Alcohol Conversation bus tour roadshow which is calling at 20 prominent locations across the city region. The first round of visits is as follows:

  • Friday 16 November, 10am-6pm – Salford Shopping Centre car park, Pendleton Road
  • Saturday 17 November, 9am-5pm – Bolton Town Hall, Victoria Town Square
  • Sunday 18 November, 9am-5pm – Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester
  • Wednesday 21 November, 10am-6pm – Oldham Market
  • Friday 23 November, 9am-5pm – Ashton Markets, Bow Street, Tameside
  • Saturday 24 November, 9am-5pm – The Rock shopping centre, Bury
  • Sunday 25 November, 11am-7pm – REDROCK centre, Stockport
  • Wednesday 28 November, 10am-6pm – Smith Street, Rochdale
  • Saturday 1 December, 9am-5pm – Bradshawgate, Leigh Town Centre, Wigan
  • Sunday 8 December, 9am-5pm – Stretford Mall, Trafford

Views gathered during the Big Alcohol Conversation will contribute to Greater Manchester’s ‘Ambition for Alcohol’, a high-level plan of action for tackling alcohol-related harm across the city region due to published during 2019.

What will Oldham Cares’ services look like for those using them?

Hear from Karl Dean, Managing Director of the MioCare Group explaining how different health and social care organisations are working together to deliver local care, allowing people to be healthier and living independently for longer.

The Matilda Challenge

A dancing GP is one of the breakout stars of a new ‘Matilda Challenge’ inspired video, launched to support this year’s Greater Manchester winter health campaign.

Dr Danny Hedwat is joined by pharmacy manager Vanessa Tam and Manchester City Council’s Rolin Johnson in the short film, based on an iconic and much-mimicked scene from the 1996 movie Matilda where the young character discovers her magical abilities.

And with Matilda the stage show still packing out the Palace Theatre in Manchester, Danny, Vanessa and Rolin are seen performing some pretty nifty Matilda-esque tricks to demonstrate how everyone can do their bit to look after themselves and help winter run smoother.

Set to the sound of Thurston Harris’ iconic tune Little Bitty Pretty One, a whole host of ‘magic’ happens in the video, like glasses refilling themselves so people can keep hydrated, medicines jumping in a shopping basket to show that people should stock up on essentials to keep well and a skeleton suddenly coming alive after receiving a nasal flu vaccination.

And in the GP surgery scene, clock hands magically roll forward to demonstrate that you can now get an appointment evenings and weekends, whichever part of Greater Manchester you live in.

Jon Rouse, chief officer of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the body responsible for health and care devolution, which commissioned the video, said: “We assembled a top team of special effects experts to put together this film, with cutting-edge techniques like using pieces of string to lift things. For some reason they didn’t want me dancing in it! But I am told that it was fun to make, and the serious message in there is that in Greater Manchester we are ready for whatever winter brings.

“With cold weather and all sorts of bugs and viruses around we do expect a fair bit of additional pressure on our health and social care system. But we’ve made our preparations, and we are urging people to make theirs too with the Help Us Help You message.”

Dr Danny Hedwat said: “As a busy GP I don’t get too many chances to bust my moves, so to find myself boogying around my surgery after hours for the Matilda Challenge video was a bit unexpected to say the least.

“But I wanted to get behind this, to get the message out that people can do their bit to help us. It can be as simple as getting your flu jab, keeping the house warm and making sure you’re all stocked up on medicines.

“Or it can be about considering how to access the medical help you need, by thinking of pharmacy, seeing a GP, or ringing 111 before you go to A&E. We are here to help people when and where they need it.”

Ways you can ‘Help Us Help You’

  • Try your local pharmacy first if you’re feeling under the weather; they’re your fastest route to help and advice.
  • Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home, and take all medicines that are prescribed to you.
  • Keep warm and eat well to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems – cold weather can be harmful, so heat your home to at least 18°C.
  • Look out for family, friends and neighbours who may be more at risk over winter.
  • Book a free flu jab if you’re a carer, over the age of 65, pregnant, have a long-term health condition like asthma or diabetes, or have a body mass index (BMI) of more than 40:

– Toddlers aged 2 or 3 can get a free nasal flu vaccination at their GP surgery
– Children (from reception up to year five) can get a nasal vaccination at school, with the consent of a parent

  • Need urgent medical help? Unless it’s a 999 emergency, call the NHS helpline on 111 or go to 

Focused Care team featured on ITV’s Tonight Programme

Mental health, homelessness and alcoholism are just some of the problems being tackled by a pioneering GP service here in Oldham. The Focused Care team at Hilltop and Hollinwood surgeries, both members of the Hope Citadel Group of GP practices, are working with some of our most vulnerable patients to help turn their lives around. Can their ‘focused care’ help save the NHS?

Watch here: