Engagement Bulletin – 30 October 2019

Introducing Charlie . . . 

Meet Charlie the therapy donkey who has been delighting patients (and staff) at Frome Community Hospital with his visits.

Charlie was the star guest at the Community Forum at Frome Community Hospital earlier this week. His handler, Kelly, shared with us how their therapy animals are making are real difference to patients. Although what we really wanted to know was how she trained Charlie to go in the lift! (hint: Charlie’s motivation is food!).

Phil Brice, Director of Governance at Somerset Partnership and Taunton & Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, gave the Community Forum an update on the proposed merger and answered questions from the floor.
We also had a talk from one of the midwives from the birthing unit about the work they are doing to support the mental wellbeing of pregnant women and new mums including counselling and peer support.

The Community Forum at Frome Community Hospital takes place four times a year. If you’re interested in attending, please contact somccg.engagement@nhs.net



Last week, the Engagement Team attended the inaugural meeting of the ‘Good Neighbours’ group in Somerton. The ‘Good Neighbours’ scheme is intended to partner willing volunteers and helpers with anyone needing help with small one-off tasks, such as lifts to medical appointments, dog walks, or even simply sharing a cup of tea and a friendly chat. The aim is to bring people together and help build strong relationships and connections within local communities so that they can support each other in a neighbourly way.

At the meeting, it was interesting to hear from a range of different groups about activities taking place in the town. Members came from different voluntary, statutory and commercial providers to discuss the future of the scheme in Somerton. For example, the group discussed the scope of the scheme, the range of services it might offer, how to recruit volunteers and make the scheme known to potential clients. There were lots of positive suggestions as to how different individuals and groups can work together to ensure the scheme is a success in Somerton.
If you would like more information about Somerton’s Good Neigbours Scheme, please contact Ivor Dixon on 01458 250 603 or email levelopps@gmail.com.

The World Health Organisation suggests that, to be effective, hand washing should take about as long as singing “Happy Birthday” twice (around 20 seconds).
Washing your hands is one of the easiest and most important ways to protect yourself and others from illness and help you to stay well this winter.

Are you protected?

We are encouraging people in Somerset to get their flu jab this year. Getting the jab is the best way to protect you and your loved ones from the dangers of flu. Getting the flu jab is particularly important for people living with long-term conditions and those over the age of 65.

Clinical Lead for Urgent Care at Somerset CCG, Dr Helen Thomas, said “The flu vaccine is free for those most at risk. People most at risk of catching flu are: Over 65s, pregnant women, those living in long-stay care facilities and people living with long-term conditions (such as respiratory disorders). However, it’s not just these individuals who need to be vaccinated – their carers should be vaccinated too. If you receive a carer’s allowance, or you’re the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill, you will also be eligible for a free jab.”

You can check if you’re eligible for a free flu jab at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/who-should-have-flu-vaccine/

Some common myths about the flu vaccine:

  1. The vaccine can give you flu – False. The vaccine does not contain the live virus and therefore cannot infect you with the flu
  2. Antibiotics can treat flu – False. As influenza is a virus and not a type of bacteria, antibiotics cannot help with flu. You may however be prescribed antivirals, which can reduce your infectiousness and reduce the length of your illness
  3. The flu vaccine lasts for more than one year – False. You need the vaccine every year in order to stay protected, as the virus changes and adapts to the vaccine each year
  4. You shouldn’t get vaccinated if you are late into your pregnancy – False. It is highly recommended that pregnant women get vaccinated, no matter what stage of pregnancy they are at
    1. Children can’t have the vaccine – False. The nasal spray flu vaccine is recommended on the NHS for all healthy 2- and 3-year-olds, plus children in primary school
    2. If you have already had flu this season, you won’t need the vaccine – False. As flu is caused by several viruses, the immunity you naturally developed will only protect you against one of them, so you could go on to catch another strain
    3. It’s too late to have the flu vaccine by November – False. The best time to have the vaccine is from the beginning of October until the end of November

    8.  Vitamin C helps prevent flu – False. There is no evidence to support that vitamin C helps with flu.So far we’ve vaccinated nearly 30% of our staff against the flu. Not all superheroes wear capes (although if you give them the chance, lots of our staff do like a cape (and a mask!)).

    Huge thanks to our friends at Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for running our flu clinics

Wherever you are, 24/7, the app allows you to book, cancel and track appointments at your GP surgery with ease.

You can conveniently order repeat prescriptions, view your GP medical record, and quickly check symptoms, plus access to NHS 111 online means no more wondering if you need urgent attention.

It’s free and owned by the NHS so you know your personal data is always secure. You can find it in Google and Apple app stores.

Simplify your life. Download the NHS App!


Could you be a ‘Stepping Stones’ carer?






















The season is changing, the leaves are falling and the days are growing shorter – but could this be a season of change for you too with a new role as a ‘Stepping Stones’ carer, supporting a young care leaver as they learn to live independently?

Around 150 young people in Somerset leave care every year and, as part of National Care Leavers’ Week from 28 October – 03 November, we’re highlighting the urgent need for more Stepping Stone carers to help them on their journey to independent living. Stepping Stones carers welcome young people (usually leaving foster care) into their home and support them with managing bills, cooking, shopping, gaining employment opportunities and accessing further education.

You’ll need to be aged 23 or over, have a spare room and ideally live in a Somerset town as it’s important our care leavers have access to good transport links and amenities, in addition to career opportunities. Once in place, Stepping Stones carers receive a weekly fee, starting at £185 per week, plus a little extra for food and utilities (up to £27.50) paid weekly by the young person from their allowance.

If you have the time and space to support a young Somerset care leaver, call our team on 0800 587 9900 or visit www.fosteringinsomerset.org.uk and find out how you can change a child’s story.

Skip to content