Thursday, 17 August 2017

Why are we so obsessed with who unfriended / unfollowed us?

Why are we so obsessed with who unfriended / unfollowed us? If it’s someone important, you’d notice. If it’s not, why do you care?

People spend far too much time concerning themselves with who dislikes them. WHY?!

I would like you to complete a task for me, right now.

Count how many people are in your life, that you would REALLY miss if they were gone. Do not include the people on social media that you see from someone that you often find yourself relating to or laughing at. Think about actual people that would leave a gaping hole in your life...

Those, (I am assuming here), very few people are the ones that matter, NOBODY else.

It is an impossible task to set oneself, to be liked by all.

Of course negative comments about the kind of person you are sting a little sometimes. You’re only human, but they do not matter, and they will not change the opinion of those around that you truly know you. The only people that care about the poison people spread are the sheep.

To quote Game of Thrones
Stop wasting your time with shit apps and worrying about people that really don’t impact your life. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Influential people in the IBD community

I wanted to talk a little about ‘influencers’, and the power they have on those around them.

Influencers are everywhere, in every industry and every community. These are the people, or the companies or the news sources that others look to for reliable insights and advice. They are the ones that have a large amount of INFLUENCE.
For example, if you are an active member of the IBD community then you will know certain charities, and people such as Blake Beckford and Zoey Wright. These are people who have made an impact, and are known for having IBD and overcoming many of the hurdles that IBD throws at them. 

Please don’t misunderstand what I am going to say next, it is not meant in a negative way and I am extremely proud of both Blake and Zoey for showing sufferers that IBD is not the end of the world and does not stop you achieving your goals. It’s great that these guys have helped bring awareness to IBD and ostomies, BUT, whilst they are inspiring, I often find myself thinking...
“How are they doing that? Am I not strong enough? Is my will too weak?”

Rather than being inspired, I find that I am chastising myself for not being able to do what they are doing. "Am I just not trying hard enough?"

The simple fact is, I cannot do what they do. I do not have the physical strength or the mental capacity to even motivate myself. Plus, whilst some are trying to raise awareness of how hard it is to live with, many onlookers fail to understand that IBD affects people very differently, and assume that those that are not capable of working and even walking sometimes, are just downright lazy, because someone else is managing to do so much better. 

The biggest issue I have is that the people who feature in the media because they have a good story, aren’t always the most knowledgeable people. Then incorrect information is uploaded online for anyone to find, or printed in a paper which can’t be amended. 

Then there are those with 'celebrity status'. The amount of times there has been uproar in the community, thanks to ‘wise words’ from Sam Faiers when she has yet again mentioned being cured, or worse still, is providing links to doctors who will provide a herbal range to “cure you too” is beyond a joke. 

Just because someone can influence you, does not mean they should. Before taking someone else's word as gospel, please do check your facts on a reliable source. We live in a world where information is literally your finger tips. You only have to look for it.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Hello again square one. I've been expecting you!

A recent hospital visit has concluded that I have pouchitis, yet again.

It was only a few years ago that chronic recurrent pouchitis was a major issue for me. It was resistant to Ciprofloxacin and Metronidazole didn't agree with me. It was not aided by VSL#3 and remission became dependent on being on > 20mg of Prednisone. Budesonide (Entocort) had no effect. Azathioprine eventually helped me achieve remission but this was short lived, although I was grateful for the few months I had, free of disease activity!

I was supposed to start Infliximab and had the initial scope to determine disease was active, chest X-ray and bloods to make sure I was a suitable candidate for the treatment. At the same time I was also undergoing investigations at a second hospital as I was adamant that the extreme abdominal pain was not Pouchitis and my current hospital had disagreed, so I requested a second opinion.

Before the Infliximab started, an abscess and twist were found in my intestine which I underwent emergency surgery for at the hospital I'd been referred to. This resulted in a temporary ileostomy due to the pouch being damaged during surgery. The resulting few months of 'pouch rest' were great for my pouch and I finally achieved remission.

I've been having some Pouchitis symptoms since last year, but it's been on and off. I didn't feel like the inflammation in my pouch was a constant thing, so had assumed it was irritable pouch related rather than active IBD and had been trying different methods of management at home. When I began bleeding I contacted my IBD team, did the usual blood test and stool sample and then paid a visit to endoscopy. I have never bled as a symptom of Pouchitis, so it seemed odd to me, but there are ulcers in my pouch which were obviously the source of it.

I find it frustrating that you learn how your body works so that you can identify a flare beginning, but then the symptoms change?! The unpredictability of IBD often makes it difficult to manage.

It had already been said that if I was to have Pouchitis again, the treatment plan would start again from the beginning, in accordance with the St Mark's Pouchitis Protocol that had been used previously. My hospital are now using the ECCO treatment framework, but it's basically the same thing.

Admittedly I had a little 'episode' of, I don't know, frustration? Anger? Basically I was having a paddy whilst in with the gastro, and had to give myself a swift mental slap because starting over and taking meds that haven't worked in the past, makes me want to bash my own head in >.<

I am happy to have left the hospital with a plan that tells me what's next, if / when medications don't work. It's just that, I'm at THAT stage where I'm really really fed up of feeling unwell.
I am currently taking Ciprofloxacin and VSL#3 for 4 weeks, again.
If there's no improvement I"ll take Budesonide for 8 weeks, again.
If there's no improvement I'll have Infliximab infusions.
And we all know what happens after that..

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that medication that has previously failed to help, will this time, and I suppose there's nothing to say that they won't, due to the aforementioned unpredictability of IBD!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

When people that don't understand the cause and management of IBD make statements about them

I 100% understand the frustration of IBD patients when people that obviously don't understand Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis make incorrect statements about the cause and management of them.

However, I do not understand why this results in name calling and insults! To me, this just proves that there's a very long way to go in terms of raising awareness and educating people about Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It should be seen as an opportunity to educate people calmly and respectfully!

If their response makes it clear that they're unwilling to listen or be educated, by all means inform them what a massive douchebag they are, but until then, the drama and nastiness is unnecessary!
Why is respecting others so fucking difficult for so many people? Did your momma's never teach you "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything"?

If your momma didn't teach you, surely Thumper in Bambi did?

Source: My Facebook profile

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Waiting | Poem

I’m lying in bed waiting for doom,
I know it will come sometime,
More than likely soon,
I don’t know when it’s coming or when it will arrive
But it’s on my disappointment that joy does thrive.
There’s a knock on the door ‘we’ve come to take you away!’
I sit in silence, what more can I say?

This was a poem I wrote when I was around 15 years old. Kinda depressing huh? It won a competition anyway... 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Do you know how many of your health issues are actually IBD related?

The list of extraintestinal manifestations of Inflammatory Bowel Disease is extensive. Those newly diagnosed in particular, could easily not realise which of their other conditions are actually related to their IBD.

I have been guilty multiple times of linking things to IBD when I have been unwell, which have turned out to be completely unrelated, and I should in fact have sought help for sooner. Equally, I have not linked things to IBD (or the medications I am taking to treat it) and been completely off the mark there too!
I like a list, and I feel this is the perfect time for numerous lists, for simplicity and clarity. Please remember I am not a doctor and this is by no means a complete list. I have no doubt some of you will spot something I have missed.

Primary symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease:
Stomach cramps / spasms
Diarrhoea and / or constipation
Bloody stool
Decrease in appetite / Weight loss
Increased wind (which is actually a sign of the intestine being inflamed)

Secondary symptoms and other autoimmune conditions related to Inflammatory Bowel Disease:
Nutritional deficiencies
Skin tags
Anal fissures
Malabsorption / Malnutrition
Blood clots (including DVT)
Thinning / weakened bones
Joints (pain, swelling and inflammation)
·         Arthralgia
·         Peripheral Arthritis
·         Axial Arthritis / Spondylitis
·         Ankylosing Spondylitis
·         Aphthous ulcers
·         Canker sores
·         Herpetiform ulcers
·         Dental cavities
·         Periodontitis
·         Episcleritis
·         Scleritis
·         Uveitis / iritis
·         Keratopathy
·         Erhthema nodosum
·         Psoriasis
·         Pyoderma gangrenosum
·         Rosacea
·         Acrodermatitis enteropathica
·         Pyoderma vegetans
·         Vasculitis
·         Vitiligo
·         Clubbing
·         Sweet’s syndrome
·         Eczema
·         Epidermolysis bullosa acquisita
·         Kidney stones
·         Enterovesical fistulas
·         Ureteral obstruction
·         Uric acid stones
·         Hydronephrosis
·         Hepatic Steatosis / Fatty Liver Disease
·         Cholelithiasis
·         Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
·         Pericholangitis
·         Cryptogenic Cirrhosis
·         Autoimmune hepatitis
·         Gallstones
Rheumatoid arthritis

Side effects of medications include but are not limited to:
Joint pain
Thinning of the skin
Increases susceptibility to infection
Hair loss
Thinning / weakened bones
Increased risk of lymphoma and skin cancer

It’s always worth seeking advice from a GP if a new health issue occurs as even if these are IBD related, they can be treated with different medications.

I hope I made my point here that Inflammatory Bowel Disease is MUCH MORE than a disease only affecting the intestines..

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Join me on The IBD & Ostomy Show, Thursday 8th of June

Exciting news! I will be on the IBD & Ostomy Support Show on Thursday 8th of June, talking all things IBD, ostomy, and of course #IBDSuperHeroes.

The show goes out LIVE on YouTube and Facebook on Thursday each week between 8 and 9pm, so let's hope they've got their bleeper ready! Essentially, it's a chat that YOU get to watch and interact with via a live chat tab on YouTube. If you would like to tune in to this week's show, visit the event page, click 'going' and then return by 8pm on Thursday and click the link in the event. Simples!

The topic will be 'other health issues related to IBD'. Ahead of the show, a poll is published for you to HAVE YOUR SAY on the topics being discussed, so if you'd like to do that, click here.

I was asked to do a quick introduction to me, so here it is...

Mine was not your typical story of being sick for a long time and having to fight for a diagnosis. For me, it all happened very quickly.

Excruciating pain, blood and diarrhoea came out of nowhere and saw me in bed, unable to move for two weeks. I slept and I went to the toilet and that was it. In those 2 weeks I lost 11lb. I went to A&E and was admitted and diagnosed on the same day. 

I have been fundraising for Crohn’s & Colitis charities and raising awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease for over 3 years, which led to a Pride of Britain Award in 2015. 

The current project that I run with follow J-poucher, Corinne Burns is #IBDSuperHeroes, focusing predominantly on finding a cure for IBD. 100% of donations are invested in to research via Cure Crohn’s & Colitis

You can find out all about #IBDSuperHeroes on the blog. Click around and meet the team, read other peoples stories, buy merchandise, see our mentions in the media and what we’ve been up to etc etc.

You can also visit my blog which includes contributions to Huffintgon Post UK and The Mighty. 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

In an indoor location write down three things for each of the following:

Sounds that you can hear;

The fridge, humming as it circulates the cold air to keep my fruit and vegetables crisp. Little does it know its main contents is cheese and pickle.

A dog barks in a garden not so far away. It barks often, never really sounding distresses or excited. Purely like its barking because it likes the sound of its own voice. His people should probably pay him more attention. I say him, because I assume, that only a male dog would want to demand attention in such a way. I know nothing about ‘him’, or his people. I do not know his breed, his colour, or what his favourite toy looks like. Again, I assume, like when you create a picture of a person in your mind whilst you listen to them on the radio, or read them in a book. He silences as I write about him, as though for today, he is happy that someone ‘heard’ his voice, and now he is done.

My Chihuahua is chewing a treat. I am pleased as it’s a fresh breath stick. I am not so pleased that this has to be done quite so loudly as I try to engage my brain in to ‘writing mode’. She opens her mouth to chew once she has ripped a piece off, and when she has swallowed, she licks for a while, as though trying to soften the edge where she has pulled it away before it was ready.

Textures that you can feel;

The woven fabric of the sofa is not that comfortable when you really stop to think about it. It feels dry, too dry almost, like I should be cracking open the E45 and giving it some TLC?

My legs are soft, yet slightly prickly. The hairs breaking through from the last epilation are thin, but when my hand flows over them in the wrong direction, they still have enough about them to make my fingertips tingle. My hand doesn’t go with quite so much ease it reaches the back of my knee where sweat has begun form from my bent leg.

My legs feel my hands run up and down them. The pressure differs from the palm of my hand sweeping gently to an increased pressure as one fingertip searches for the best route to induce the most tingling in it.

Odours that you can smell;

There are lilies in the corner of the room, that only began opening or day or two ago. Half are still yet to open so the scent is not yet overpowering. It drifts passed as the breeze creeps in through the crack in the door that is not intended, purely ‘fucked’.

The sofa is relatively new, and you can still smell the ‘newness’, which if we’re being honest, is not entirely pleasant, like the smell of new clothes that you always wash before wearing, and unlike a book which smells like adventure. Full of hidden secrets you’re yet to uncover.

There’s gammon in the oven, covered in a sticky honey glaze that I can’t wait to eat! I want to smell more of it, but the lilies take precedent in this room. 

Flavours that you can taste;

The aftertaste of coke that I can only assume no one really likes, which leads me to wondering why anyone ever drinks it. It’s flat which is how I like it, because it’s been left in the fridge overnight after a post-cinema McDonald’s trip.

If I concentrate, which I would really rather not, the faint taste of codeine lingers at the back of my throat, reminding me I am sick.

Objects that you can see;

The flowers in the corner smile at me. They know I appreciate them, but I will probably forget to give them fresh water when they need it. They’re the classic pink and white, with the brown and often transferred pollen. They’re very big, because my boyfriend likes to but the best, and they stand out against the wall which is supposedly ‘sand’ coloured. How can you call a colour sand, without specifying said sands location? And not one grain of sand, if inspected under a microscope would be identical to another. A myriad of colours and textures and sizes and shapes, quite disrespectfully – I think, shoved under the umbrella term for a colour, ‘sand’.

The leopard print curtains make me think that they’d probably be much better suited to a brothel. They’re not good quality. I bought them when I was buying everything else which meant my budget had to go a long way. They were cheap, so you can see through them, and often when I am watching the TV, I am distracted by the light outside.

I have a large, colourful, metal and glass gecko crawling up the wall. It’s not the only gecko crawling up the wall in the room but is by far the prettiest. She is supposed be in the garden on a fence, where the pink and green coloured glass in her abdomen catches the light. Her eyes are not glued on, but instead, encased in twisted wire which has been coiled around glass beads. She is beautiful, but has a look of not knowing it.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The importance of a Pizza Party

It’s been a great Friday for me!

Firstly, because it’s World IBD Day, so I’ve had the opportunity to shout about how important raising awareness is. Not only is it acceptable today more than any other day, I would even go as far as to say it is expected - welcomed! Of course, I delivered, with the same flare, style and enthusiasm as always – none, clumsy, but the enthusiasm I got nailed! 

So what is the second reason for my ‘great Friday’, I can hear you pondering. Well, today is also National Pizza Party Day!

If you want to be pedantic about it, which I don’t doubt some of you are, it’s actually an American National day, but I’m more than happy to jump on the bandwagon for most National food holidays!

If you want to see what I have been up to in terms of raising awareness today, head over to Huffington Post and The Mighty. I have been crazily sharing on social media and have spent the last few weeks designing awareness images and creating Thunderclaps etc. For those of you not in the know, Thunderclap is a nifty little site that allows you to create a short post (short enough for Twitter), and ask people to support your message with their own social media profiles, meaning that at a time and date you've specified, the message will go out on their social media. Neat huh?

This evening has been spent with my beloved, making pizzas with ready-made pizza dough (I know – I am ashamed, honest)! He knows it’s best to indulge me when I request things like ‘a pizza making party for two’. Who said romance was dead?

As I said, it’s been a great Friday! I feel like I have not only done well for the IBD community, but also suitably romanced my other half too. Productive wouldn’t you say?!

What do you mean, having him make his own dinner is not romance? YOU KNOW NOTHING!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Do you really know where your charitable donations go? A few figures

In March 2014 I began a project raising funds for the UK’s biggest Crohn’s and Colitis charity and after 21 months of constant fundraising, in December 2015 we had hit a grand total of £45,000!

I know what you’re thinking “That’s AMAZING” right? Of course I thought the same, until I began to look properly in to where those funds were invested by the charity. For example, looking at the yearend accounts for 2015, I can see that a mere 10% of total donations were invested in to research, and a whopping 39% on staff costs...

My math tells me that if I am to work out by the 2015 accounts percentages, where that £45,000 I worked so hard to raise went it looks like this.
£4,500 went to research
£17,550 went to staff costs

Now you see, it took 1 year and 9 months to raise that £45,000.

Current vacancies at Crohn’s and Colitis UK:
Publications Information manager: £40,000 per annum 
We couldn't even keep up with paying this one staff member

But on the bright side, in those 21 months we did raise enough money to pay this guy for 12 months:
Management accountant: £36,000 - £38,000 per annum
So all is not lost (sarcasm).

If I had known then, what I know now, that whole £45,000 would have gone to research via Cure Crohn’s & Colitis, but alas, I did not look, and I did not know, and I can honestly say that I am gutted about that!

I have since learnt my lesson, and along with Corinne Burns started fundraising project IBDSuperHeroes in January 2016. Our tag line is ‘fighting to cure Crohn’s and Colitis’, and this time we actually are!

Our total is not as grand as the previous project, and currently stands at £11,584, but every single penny of that has gone, or will go to research to ultimately find a cure for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It has taken us just over 15 months to reach this goal.

The previous project, which is still being run by a few of the ladies I worked with, has now raised a fabulous £61,674, and that has take just over 3 years (37 months), meaning (based on 2015 percentages) around £6,167 of that goes to research and £24,052 on staff costs, and as we’re aware from above, that isn’t even going to a cover ONE persons annual salary...

I work in Marketing, so I completely understand the need to spend money to make money. Without spending money on marketing staff / materials and PR people to get you in the media and event organisers to get your walks in front of the relevant audience, you simply will not become well known enough to be 'raking in' donations. Essentially, these are businesses as much as they are a charity.

Cure Crohn's and Colitis do not pay staff. Everyone that works on their behalf, from the guy that built the website to the lady that does the year-end accounts, does so for free. There is no hefty salary for the big CEO and no marketing budget for a fancy website and ads in magazines, because they want each penny to make a real difference to the lives of those with Crohn's and Colitis. The majority of Cure Crohn's and Colitis' volunteers have been impacted in some way by IBD themselves, so they volunteer their time because they BELIEVE in the cause. 

I guess it’s all down to personal preference, where you want your hard earned money to go. Personally, I want my time and effort to be invested in to research for a cure.

I urge anyone looking to fundraise for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis to PLEASE take some time to think about where your ultimate goal lies and ensure that you are fundraising for a charity which aligns with them.

Check out Cure Crohn's and Colitis:

Over and out.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Why would anyone NOT want a pig??

Earlier today, whilst making my regular "it's a cute creature" squealy noises during a video of a teeny pig, I was asked
"Why would anyone want a pig?"

Well I just wanted to pop along and ask the question

Why would anyone not want a pig??

Walks on rainy days...
 A helping hand in the garden...
Warm your cups ready for a brew...
Create Jacuzzi whirlpools...
 Constant fertiliser refills...
More rainy day company...
 Purely, just because...
Warms your hat before you go out in the cold...
Ice cream eating companion during summer...
Can't live alone, therefore a need for more pigs...
Thank you piggies. Point proven I think.

Twitter cosmetics | One less egg this Easter

If you joined Twitter over the last 7 years, you're default Twitter profile picture will have been an egg. Twitter says "This was a playful way to reference how eggs hatch into birds that send all the Tweets you see on Twitter!"
Twitter feels that by changing it's default image, it will prompt more self expression.

"How?" I hear you questioning. Well to be honest, I haven't the foggiest idea.

"We noticed that some people kept the egg default profile photo because they thought it was fun and cute."
Errm? If I was looking for 'cute', it would surely be a piggy in wellies?

Twitter also thinks that due to internet trolls not going to the effort of personalising accounts, the egg has become an icon that users associate with trolling and spam, which is unfair to new users who haven't yet personalised their profile.

In my mind, an un-personalised profile will have the same association, no matter what the default image is.

Over the years, Twitter has had many default profile images.
Apparently a lot of thought went in to the direction of the new default image.

Will it encourage more people to update their image? Probably not.

Will a new and more human default image make users less likely to suspect the other user is a troll? Probably not.

Does Twitter feel good because they added something shiny and new for people to talk about? Probably yes.

Well good for you Twitter! When I feel life is lacking, I go buy me shiny new shoes.
You may now stare in awe at your shiny new default.
Now, what was I doing? 
Oh, yeah.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Growing human tendons on an advanced robotic hand

This apparently is NOT NEW news, but I only came across this a few days ago!

Researchers first created a robot hand that is so accurate it has almost the same dexterity as a human hand. This is a major leap for prosthetics, and the motion capabilities of this hand have never been seen before.

Researchers put the hand through a laser scanner and then 3D printed artificial bones to match, they plan to then grow human tendons and tissue on the robot hand!

Currently, in the event of amputation of the hand patients currently have one of 3 options available to them:
Hand replantation: This is only a viable option if the severed hand is professionally cared for immediately after the accident and the tissue is healthy.
This procedure is carried out of if the hand can function without pain. The goal would be to give the patient back as much function as possible.
Amputation: Required if the tissues are too damaged and the hand cannot be replanted. A cosmetic or prosthetic hand may be offered to improve the cosmetic appearance and function of the hand.
Hand transplantation: If a hand replantation is not an option, surgeons can offer the patient a hand transplantation. This would involve a donor hand being transplanted. An operation like this requires a team of up to 20 surgeons who connect the arteries, veins, tendons and bones. Immunosuppressants are needed to prevent rejection of the donor hand by the patient’s body.

The new prosthetics hand would mean people could have an entirely new hand, human skin and all, if their hand were to be lost in an accident.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Nutrition and Proteins

I made the decision to do some studying in my spare time and wanted to learn a little bit more about nutrition. In part, because I have Inflammatory bowel disease but also because it’s always going to be useful knowledge to have. I thought I was enrolling on a course that was going to talk about proteins from a health perspective. I soon realised I had signed up to study science. I enjoyed biology at secondary school and still have an interest in it now, but I have to admit that reading in depth about molecular structures had me baffled and I found myself repeatedly reading the same parts in an effort to understand them. Chemistry always was my least favourite science.
I am looking specifically at the role of protein in the diet from the perspective of a chronic illnesses sufferer; I can’t help it!

Protein comes from the Greek word protos, which means “first” or “primary,” reflecting the body’s fundamental need for this nutrient.

Proteins form an integral part of the components of all living cells and a typical cell in the human body contains 18% protein, though some cell types such as muscle cells, contain much more. Some proteins have a largely structural role in the body, forming tendons and hair, others are produced in and then released from cells and function as enzymes and hormones.

If insufficient protein is present in the diet for the body's needs then it starts to break down its own proteins. Since muscles contain large amounts of protein, the result of a low-protein diet is muscle-wasting. People with a poor appetite, perhaps due to some underlying medical condition may also be short of protein, and muscle weakness is common in those.

Extra dietary protein is needed by people who are suffering from injury, infection, burns and cancer, as all of these conditions increase the rate of loss of protein from the body. The upper safe limit of protein intake is probably around 1.5 g per kg of body mass per day. Higher intakes may cause loss of minerals from the bones which can then result in fractures.

Nutrition is also a critical factor in the wound healing process, with adequate protein intake essential to the successful healing of a wound. Patients with both chronic and acute wounds, such as postsurgical wounds or pressure ulcers require an increased amount of protein to ensure complete and timely healing. The wound healing process makes protein loss worse as the body can lose up to 100 milligrams of protein per day due to exudation, or fluid leakage from the affected area.

Proteins also play structural roles, as the contractile proteins actin and myosin found in cardiac, skeletal, and smooth muscle and as the fibrous proteins collagen, elastin, and keratin. During the proliferative phase of wound repair, collagen deposition is crucial to increase the wound’s tensile strength. 40% of the body’s protein occurs in skeletal muscle—the major component of lean body mass, the metabolically active tissues of the body. Lean body mass declines with age and critical illness, significantly compromising the body’s ability to carry out all the necessary functions of protein.

Now, did we all learn the value of protein? Good!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

£20M a year cap on new NHS drugs

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has announced plans to limit spending on new drugs to save money. NICE said the cap is needed due to the “significant financial challenge facing the NHS”.
The £20M a year cap will be introduced next month, but this new measure could see delays of up to three years before new drugs are made available to give NHS bosses the chance to try to renegotiate the price with drug firms.

Currently, drugs that are assessed as being cost-effective by NICE are automatically recommend for use in the NHS, then the health service has 90 days to start offering the drugs. This process assesses the cost versus the benefit of the drug on the basis of the impact to an individual, but does not take into account how many people may take the drug and therefore the total cost to the NHS.

Under the new plan, widely used drugs and expensive but effective drugs that breach the £20m a year threshold will face a secondary process. NHS England will be able to halt the 90-day deadline and then begin bartering with the manufacturer to try to get the price down. They will be able to apply for an extension of up to three years. During this period, NICE will have the power to allow restricted use to patients deemed most in need.

Twitter replies: More characters for your tweet content

*Hip hip* HOORAAAY!

The long awaited, 140 characters PLUS Twitter handle has finally arrived! We were promised this addition back in May 2016, along with the media in tweets such as images and GIF’s not using any of your character limit and the ability to Retweet and Quote yourself.

These changes rolled out in 2016, with the arrival of the option to Retweet and Quote your own tweets coming in to affect in June 2016, and the capacity to use media in tweets without losing any of your characters since September.

Starting today, when you reply to a tweet it will look like this.

And if you want to remove someone from the conversation, you simply click on the twitter handles after ‘Replying to’ and de-select the people you don’t want.  

Twitter says “It’s now easier to follow a conversation, so you can focus on what a discussion is about, and who is having it. Also, with all 140 characters for your replies, you have more room to participate in group conversations.”

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The TWO most important factors of social media management

Don’t get me wrong, there are many important activities that you need to carry out if you are going to effectively implement social media as part of your marketing output. These activities need to be done confidently and accurately, or NOT AT ALL. There is nothing worse (for me at least), than seeing a company’s ‘half arsed’ social media marketing attempts.

Before deciding to embark on social media for your business, you need to consider whether you actually have the time to invest in to it, to do at the very least, these things two things PROPERLY.
Content Creation
You need to ensure that the content you are putting out is relevant and valuable to your target audience.
Take some time to research keywords for both your industry, and your target audience.
It should be common knowledge by now that the right type of social media activity can help with your SEO, so you need to consider which keywords and search terms you want to be found under. When including links to your website in posts, you need to use these regularly.
If you can identify the keywords and hashtags that your target audience use and search for, you can ensure that THEY FIND YOU, which is truly important of you’re not going to be investing time in finding and engaging with them yourself.
You also need to make sure that the tone of your output is right for each platform, as the chatty and light hearted posts that are suitable for the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are not what professional LinkedIn users want to see.

Firstly, you need to know when your target audience is active online and make sure you post at these times, ensuring optimum reach for your content.
Secondly, you need to know what type of content is engaging your audience and generating clicks. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and even Pinterest have internal analytics for business profiles and pages. You will need to view these regularly and after a few months, should be able to see clearly which posts are encouraging your target audience to engage with you. Google analytics includes a tab specifically for viewing the traffic to your site from social media. This is incredibly useful.

A full social media strategy should obviously include a lot more activity and would yield much more fruitful results in terms of generating leads, but if you’re looking to build brand awareness and increase your digital footprint, the above is a good place to start.

For a more comprehensive strategy you will need to:
Identify your target audience
- Who are they?
- Where are they?
Identify influencers of your target audience
- Who are they?
- Where are they?
Invest time in engagement
- With your target audience directly
- With influencers of your audience directly and indirectly
Build your audience