Flu vaccination time

Returning to work, school or commuting again? The HSE is advising that its free winter flu vaccination service be availed of.

The 2021-22 seasonal flu jab protects against the four strains of flu virus the World Health Organization believes are most likely to be circulating this flu season. It is free for those over the age of 65 or anyone over the age of 18 within at-risk groups (those who have long-term health conditions). Others must source and pay for it at their GP surgery or local pharmacy.

The cost ranges between €25-30 depending on the pharmacy.

It won’t stop all flu viruses, but if you do get flu after you have the vaccine it’s likely to be milder and you will recover more quickly. Flu vaccines usually reduce the risk of infection by 40-60%.

More information is available at hse.ie

turn2me – a lifeline online

You can now avail of six free online counselling sessions, if needed, on turn2me’s purpose-built secure online platform which delivers mental health services to Irish residents.

This charity (which is partly funded by the HSE) was founded in 2009 by Oisin and Diarmuid Scollard, who lost their brother to suicide.

You don’t need to be referred by a GP and there is no problem too big or small to get support. turn2me is there for whatever you are going through. One-to-one counselling services are available to adults, but there are also two other forms of support, including group support sessions and peer support groups.

A parent support group is also available.

Professional counselling sessions are provided by video, voice or chat.

Those who register with turn2me are assured of anonymity.


Go up your favourite hill for a good cause

Fancy helping a good cause by walking, skipping, jogging, cycling or climbing up a hill near you? The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation is asking for your support by going Up The Hill For Jack & Jill this month. Funds raised will go towards the home nursing care of 362 Jack & Jill children around the country with highly complex medical and life-limiting conditions.

You can register for €18 at www.jackandjill.ie. Funds donated (at any time) will help children within your own locality. Every €18 pays for one hour of home nursing care for one child.

Billy Cronin is one of those 362 children. He is two-and-a-half and lives with his farming parents, Martin and Laura, and his three siblings, Alice, Joe and Katie in the Borlin valley in west Cork.

Billy was diagnosed with a rare syndrome at birth called Nicolaides Baraitser and also with severe Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, which means he is non-verbal, immobile, blind, has scoliosis, epilepsy and also serious feeding issues.

Farming family’s story of Jack & Jill help

This is how Billy’s mum, Laura, who is his full-time carer, describes their experience of help from the Jack & Jill Foundation:

“Billy lives in the moment – if there’s no pain/discomfort, then he’s content. As his family and carers, we too have had to learn to live in the moment, as from the time of his diagnosis, medical opinion cautioned us to expect what could be a very short life for Billy.

“His condition is described as complex, critical and the phrase ‘ticking time bomb’ was used in the early days, which is blunt but true as Billy can’t undergo anaesthetic – many issues can’t ever be fixed, just managed. Like any child, Billy is precious, but our relationship with him is much more intense because we can’t assume anything other than the present moment.

“Billy requires 24/7 care. He is tube-fed and each feed takes over two hours. Due to his complex feeding issues and his increasing seizure activity, someone needs to be with him at all times. He also needs to get up to 25 medications during the day and night. This is very difficult, as you can imagine, in a busy household with three other little ones.

“As a family we do as much as we can, but couldn’t manage without the extra support we receive from Jack & Jill and a local service, CoAction. We have a wonderful team of nurses and, between us, we share the joy, the heartache and the responsibility of Billy.

“From the very first day I came in contact with Jack & Jill, they really seemed to understand our needs in a very practical way. They support the whole family. Having the Jack & Jill nurses means I can try to keep some bit of normality for the other kids, knowing Billy is being well cared for. Days I have nurses mean I can do school-runs, go to a match, take the kids for a swim – things other people can take for granted. For me, these have to be meticulously planned with Billy’s care always given priority.

“As well as providing us with wonderful nurses, our Jack & Jill liaison nurse, Eilín, has been a huge support to me personally. She has been my number one to call, whatever the issue. So, for both emotional and practical support, I can’t thank the Jack & Jill team enough and will be forever grateful to them.

“Billy has also receives excellent care in Cork University Hospital and Crumlin Children’s Hospital.”

Top tips for breastfeeding as society reopens

Breastfeeding is good for babies and for mothers, so here are some HSE mychild.ie tips which can help:

1 Build your confidence. Some mothers feel self-conscious breastfeeding in public, at first, but this gets easier with time. Ask if there is a dedicated feeding area if you want more privacy. Wearing a loose top over a camisole can help, as can wearing a nursing bra. Going to a support group and observing other mothers breastfeeding can be a confidence-builder also.

2 Prepare for breastfeeding when you’re pregnant. Classes are available in your hospital to learn about what’s normal for breastfeeding. There are also lots of videos and other advice on preparing to breastfeed available at mychild.ie

3 Seek out support to help continue breastfeeding. Details of supports, like lactation consultants who provide specialist help to overcome breastfeeding challenges when needed, are also available at the website above.

4 Ask a breastfeeding expert. The HSE provides a free ‘ask our breastfeeding expert’ service via mychild.ie. You can ask your question via email or live chat from Monday to Friday, between 10am and 3pm.

New book about menopause

Breeda Bermingham is a trained nurse and midwife who specialises in menopause.

She has now written a book Midlife Women Rock on the topic which is available on Amazon or via her website midlifewomenrockproject.com.

“As a post-menopausal woman,” she says, “I would like to have had ready access to information some years ago when I started my own journey. Women deserve to have this knowledge available in the public sphere. Using mindset shifts, neuroscience, the power of story, and life experience from working with women as a nurse and midwife, I am on a mission to change the old negative, disempowering cultural story in order to assist women thrive and become the best version of themselves in their middle years.”

World Psoriasis Day this October

Psoriasis affects at least 73,000 people in Ireland. It is a chronic, systemic inflammatory skin disorder in which there is an increase in the rate at which skin cells are produced and shed from the skin.

Psoriasis can affect any part of the skin surface, but most commonly involves the elbows, knees, scalp and the sacrum (lower back).

Psoriasis is a condition which tends to run in families. Several different genes have been identified but the exact way in which the disorder moves from generation to generation has not yet been established. What is known is that both the immune system and genetics are important in its development. So although the potential to develop psoriasis is genetically inherited, it is by no means certain that it will ever occur.

Environmental factors can also play a role in developing the condition. In some cases, emotional stress (like moving house, a divorce or bereavement), infection (such as a strep throat), injury to the skin or certain medications can trigger the first episode of psoriasis, while certain lifestyle factors (such as heavy drinking and smoking) may worsen it.

Psoriasis is not contagious, infectious or the result of poor hygiene. For more information see irishskin.ie

Did you know?

  • Public perceptions of people with dementia are changing for the better with 50% of the population now knowing a person with dementia and nine in 10 people believing that people with dementia have the right to be active citizens in their communities (Dementia: Understand Together survey).
  • Pharmaceutical company Merck has developed a pill called molnupiravir that can be taken for COVID-19 as soon as there is a suspicion of infection. An early study published recently showed that this pill has the potential to cut the rate of hospitalisation and death by around 50% in mild to moderate COVID-19 patients. Other companies like Pfizer are working on similar pills.
  • October is Down Syndrome awareness month. To learn more about this syndrome and donate to help the work of Ireland’s support group see downsyndrome.ie.
  • October is also Breast Cancer Aware month and the Irish Cancer Society is asking you to focus on Care For Your Pair by checking your breasts regularly and encouraging two friends to do the same. The ICS Freephone support line, if you have any worries or concerns, is 1800 200 700 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
  • Read more