Thursday, 31 December 2009

Post-op recovery! The end of 2009 ....

In recent weeks I have ended up back in bed again with pain and infection after what had been a good recovery after my hysterectomy in October!
Why? Chances are I have been doing 'too much'. But how do you know what is 'too much'? Some days I wake up and I feel so very, very good and want to do all the things I would do normally. So I try ...then later on hit what feels like a wave of exhaustion when even standing up is too much.
We went out for dinner to friends a couple of weeks ago - on the way there Clive warned me that he had told our hosts that we couldn't stay late due to me getting tired. I almost felt insulted at the suggestion and stubbornly declared that we'd leave when it seemed right to do so. The company was wonderful; food even better but at 10.30 p.m. it was as if someone had flicked a switch inside me! Clive was right ... and we left.
I am not used to my body letting me down when mentally I am determined to make a full and quick recovery!

So for the past few weeks I am having to say 'no' to certain things and pace myself. It means I am not able to do things - yet - which I want to, but hopefully it will mean a better recovery in the long run. I was warned at least 12 weeks and I am only at 9. So I must be a patient patient! I had intended working on my next book over the past weeks but my attention span isn't as good as usual.

Yesterday and today I have begun to make my way through my email box and line up some blog entries. But I also feel I should perhaps practice what I preach and be good to me! By doing that it makes it better for those around me too. I often speak of my HANZAK principles of patient care. So how can I make them apply to me now?

I have been inspired by the forums and information at
It is a good feeling to know that the aches, pains and concerns you have are the same as others! I have had messages from many telling me how their lives have been better after the op and I am keen to join those ranks! We all get strength from hope and the will to make things better.
My relationships with others and myself have been challenged over these weeks but we have all learnt that honesty is best. There is no point me pretending I feel okay if I don't as I know we shall all pay the price later!

I often say that when people are ill mentally they need the same TLC as those suffering physically and need support and acknowledgment that they are not well. Yet post-op it is the same except it is ME that has had difficulty in accepting this! My body has been bombarded with chemicals, had major surgery and parts removed with physical scars, most of which are internal, yet some days I have reacted as if nothing has happened! In trying to do too much I have made myself poorly which in turn impacts on those around me. It is hard to find that balance between not being a martyr but equally not being Superwoman! I guess a balanced, sensible attitude is the answer. Sadly I have postponed some events for January but hope to rebook them when I am stronger.

I need to make a full recovery but what will help me?
Nurture - everyone around me has made me feel special and cared for. I really appreciate this.
Education - learning about the operation and what can be expected is good. I am going to a physiotherapy group next week for others like me!
Exercise - I made a good start with this with walking but confess this has not been as consistent. I am keen to get the okay from my consultant to get back to Pilates and using some fitness DVDs in the lounge!
Diet - Christmas is always a greedy time but I am keen to get my diet better in the New Year. We have just booked a cruise for September so I have a vision of me in a little black dress I want to get back into!
Sleep - I am aware how important this is and make sure I get plenty! I have been treated to breakfast in bed several times!

Recovery should be about having fun too and taking care of myself. It was amazing the lift I got from having my hair and nails done after my last infection. Each day I try to do something constructive but also balance it with a fun thing. Dominic and I sat through 3 hours of Avatar at the cinema last week, munching popcorn. It was his choice but I found I loved it! I am also having a lot of pleasure with the arrival of baby Ruby - Clive's niece's daughter.

She is so dainty that I am knitting her more tiny cardigans - fun, relaxation and construction all in one go!

Recovery is also a team concept! I found by putting on a brave face and overdoing things I got poorly and made life worse for those around me. I have learnt to accept help graciously and with gratitude.

I have needed to learn to be kind to me! My internal dialogue has needed to be modified into a more positive yet sensible one, e.g. physically I am not up to certain things but clearing my desk and inbox little by little will help me in the long run. Sitting around moping won't help but small actions will.

So as I face the end of 2009 I feel optimistic about 2010. It has been a rollercoaster year but as my late Grandma used to say 'if you have your health, you have everything'. So on that basis with continued recovery ... I will!

Wishing you all a healthy and happy 2010,


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

'What about the Children' conference

Readers may be interested in attending this conference.

What About The Children?
"Raising awareness of the never changing emotional needs of children under three in our ever changing society."
What About The Children? has no political or religious affiliation. Registered Charity No. 1108816

telephone: 0845 602 7145
What About The Children? National Conference
Tuesday 2nd March 2010
The Resource Centre 356 Holloway Road London N7 6PA
Delegate Fee £70 (includes Tea, Coffe and Lunch)
'What is critical for a child's healthy emotional development?'

Lane Strathearn, (MBBS, FRACP) Assistant Professor of Paediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.
Dr Strathearn’s field is developmental paediatrics, with neuro biology of mother infant attachment as a particular area of interest.
Jane Barlow, (DPhil; FFPH Hon) Professor of Public Health in the Early Years at Warwick University.
Professor Barlow’s areas of interest include the effectiveness of early interventions in the primary prevention of mental health problems. She is particularly interested in the evaluation of interventions that are directed at promoting the parent-infant relationship.

Janice Saunders, Project Worker/Trainer for Parents as First Teachers.

Anna Marley, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, NHS.

Heather Stevenson, Independent Trainer and Counsellor

Carol Mannion, Developmental Therapist

Pamela Stewart, Psychotherapist HMP Holloway

Comments about last year’s national conference
‘Excellent event. Fantastic speakers, very accessible. I am left feeling energised and re-invigorated’- Early Years Professional

‘Excellent conference as always – well reflected with all speakers’- Parent

‘I attended my first What About The Children? Conference last year and felt that it was the best conference I had attended for a long time. I welcomed the opportunity to attend again this year’- Health Visitor

For more information and Booking Form please go to our web site
Or email Conference Organiser Cath Armstrong

Elaine Hanzak

Review of 'Eyes without Sparkle - a journey through postnatal illness'.

I was delighted to find the following review of my book by Dr.Kevin Craig.

A compelling account of Elaine Hanzak's experience of post natal depression and her subsequent recovery. Her vivid account speaks for many who suffer with depression and has helped carers and family members understand what the condition feels like to those living through it.

He has also reviewed some other books too. See:-

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Postnatal depression treatments are not cost effective, say York researchers

Thanks to Sarah Cowley for this information.

An HTA commissioned report about screening for postnatal depression was published last July, but has now come out in a (free content) article, details below. The headline suggesting that PND treatments are not cost-effective is misleading; the screening was found to be not cost effective. Instead, care and awareness by GPs is health visitors and advocated.

Routine screening for postnatal depression in primary care - as recommended in recent guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) - does not appear to represent value for money for the NHS, researchers at the University of York have concluded.

The results of a study by academics in the University's Department of Health Sciences, Hull York Medical School and the Centre for Health Economics suggest that both the NICE recommendation and widespread current practice should be reviewed. The research is published on today.

More than one in 10 women suffer from postnatal depression six weeks after giving birth, yet fewer than half of cases are detected in routine clinical practice. Screening strategies using brief depression questionnaires have been advocated but have attracted substantial controversy.

Furthermore, guidelines issued by NICE in 2007 recommend the use of specific questions to identify possible postnatal depression, but the effectiveness and value for money of this strategy is uncertain.

The researchers at York used a computer model to evaluate the cost effectiveness of screening for postnatal depression in primary care.

The project was commissioned by the NHS Health Technology Assessment Programme; a body which investigates what works and what represents value for money in the NHS. The research was led by Professor Simon Gilbody and Dr Catherine Hewitt, of the Department of Health Sciences and Hull York Medical School (HYMS) together with leading health economists Mike Paulden and Stephen Palmer, of CHE.

Professor Simon Gilbody who led the project, said: "While postnatal depression is a very important condition, screening for this disorder with questionnaires was costly and wrongly identified many women as depressed, resulting in inappropriate care."

Screening for postnatal depression with one of the most widely used questionnaires, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, had an incremental cost effectiveness ratio of £41,103 per quality adjusted life year or QALY (a combined measure of quantity and quality of life) compared with routine care only.

The ratio for all other strategies ranged from £49,928 to £272,463 per QALY compared with routine care only, well above the conventional NHS cost effectiveness threshold of £20-30,000 per QALY.

In contrast, the strategy of treating post natal depression without using screening as is current practice represented good value for money.

The York-based research team concluded: "These findings suggest that both the recent NICE guidance and widespread current practice do not result in value for money for the NHS, and do not satisfy the National Screening Committee's criteria for the adoption of a screening strategy as part of national health policy."

Professor Gilbody added that "Postnatal depression is very important, but screening doesn't seem to be the answer. GPs and health visitors should be vigilant to Post Natal Depression and be able offer high quality treatment when they are sure a woman needs care."

The York team call for further research to quantify the cost of incorrect diagnosis and the wider impact of postnatal depression treatment strategies on the quality of life of the mother and her family.

Source: University of York

For article see

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Life after hysterectomy!

Well what an eventful seven weeks! And where have they gone? If anyone had told me I could just lose time like this I would never have believed them. I feel I am finally emerging now and increasingly ready to conquer the world again - although perhaps a country ... county... town.... street.... house ... at a time!

I confess I was worried about my op. I am a drama queen at the best of times and knowing my illness record I never do anything by halves! I had also never had a full cut operation before and the thought of an 8 inch scar across my tummy was something I did not relish. It also meant increased separation from Dominic as I could not drive for weeks and the need to rely on my parents and Clive for my every whim. As a normally very independent and capable person it meant the rug was quite literally pulled from under me.

But I had to accept the operation was needed. I had been suffering from gynaecological problems for several years; had two emergency stays in hospital for it this year and many days of pain and inconvenience. I had planned that my work diary was cleared by the middle of October until the New Year to allow time for recovery which is estimated at 6 - 12 weeks. Emotionally I had concerns too. I wonder how many ladies who have suffered postnatal illness do go on to have problems in the menopause/gynaecological area? The theories around hormones causing/adding to postnatal illnesses is very strong, so I was worried that I might be affected over this too. I am aware that depression can be a post-operative symptom of hysterectomy too.

Just as postnatal illness is a condition related to loss (of an expected 'normal' motherhood) an operation to remove your reproductive organs is also about loss - no more children, a possible loss of femininity, etc. Earlier in the year I had felt the loss of having no more children VERY strongly. I had sobbed myself silly over it and hurt those around me. I wrote quite cruel letters to Nick unfairly blaming him for the fact we never had any more children - that I had been prepared to risk puerperal psychosis again but he wasn't - and who could blame him? I love my brother and sister deeply and the concept of 'family' - it wasn't that Dominic wasn't enough - I just wanted him to have siblings. But I hurt him too in the process of my ramblings. I am truly sorry for that. Then with the breakdown of our family these last two years it all just seemed too much to cope with.

At the same time I seemed to receive a string of messages from other sufferers of puerperal psychosis who were scared to have another baby but wanted them. It seems my feelings around this were not unusual. The partners are often reluctant too - how on earth can they be expected to just sit back and say 'but of course we'll try again for another baby' when they have witnessed the mother of their child go through absolute hell the previous time? As the mother I feel the illness protects you and I found it easy to get maternal over pink frilly dresses, when all Nick could remember was pain and heartache. The only thing we were told by the psychiatrist when I was discharged was that if I ever got pregnant again then the chances of postnatal illness was higher! However, he did stress that everyone would be on my case next time. I like to think so. But it didn't happen for various reasons. We have a wonderful, healthy and bright son which is so much more than some have. I feel now I have put that issue to bed and moved on. I needed to for everyone.

I will put some advice for those thinking of another child at the end. I am delighted to say that some of the mums who contacted me are now expecting again and have plans in place with their health and family support teams to make the next birth and subsequent months easier!

So how did it go? I felt very tearful being booked in. I also said some pathetic 'poor me' things to Clive on the journey to York hospital and upset us both! 'Going down' really felt tough! The staff were brilliant though and dealt with me very sensitively. I have tiny veins - so small they had to gas me to sleep! When I awoke in the recovery room I felt relieved and floating on the morphine. I remember coming round and I could hear one of mine and Clive's songs playing on the radio - why does that happen? Of all the songs why then? As time went by I began to bleed heavily and the pain started to build. Next thing all hell let loose! Staff seemed to come out of the woodwork and I began to cry with the pain and panic. A gorgeous nurse called Debbie held my hand and kept stroking my hair and reassuring me. It was just like when Dominic was born!!! All mayhem but in the midst I felt that the rest of the world disappeared as I focused on Debbie's hand and reassuring words. I remember pouring my heart out to her and telling all this was my fault! I must have been so bad and I was being punished. Eventually I was told I had to go back into theatre; I scribbled a signature and plunged into darkness again.

When I came round next time I had left the stormy waters behind and it seemed I emerged into a calm and tranquil sea. Wow! Seven weeks on I am still in it! I don't remember much about the first couple of days except a stunning bunch of red roses Clive brought me. Each time I opened my eyes they were the first thing I saw, and I smiled. I had my Blackberry with me and Dominic had sent me hugs via Facebook. Little messages kept me going. Quite often I would dose off and I would wake up to find my Blackberry held up in front of my face! Mum and Dad arrived the next day with their usual unconditional love and support. The team at York hospital were great and I could not have wished for better care.

It seemed I had had a blood clot which just needed to disperse and possibly there had been no need for the second theatre trip. But no matter, I seemed okay. I was sore but quite amazed at how soon I could move around. Having a shower the first time was like having run a marathon. I was surprised that after three days I didn't need a dressing and my scar was so neat and tidy. The average length of stay is 5 days. I was determined to do it as so many around me had rolled their eyes and said 'yes, that's for NORMAL people - not you'! So with pride and determination I left on day 5!

Clive was looking after me the first week but he ended up with back trouble! What a pair we made. I had to learn how to move again - carefully, and he treated me like a porcelain doll. My Mum had a major operation 30 years ago and I remember her coming home. I marveled at how she had coped with three children and a shift worker post-op. She reminded me that her Mum had helped an awful lot. Grandma would have been 100 next year, but we still miss her and Grandpa. Does anyone else especially miss loved-ones at such times?

I had got myself some very un-sexy black jogging bottoms to wear initially - at least I was dressed. Looking back the first week passed quickly with lots of rest. We also got into little walks every day. I found if I went too far I would feel very sick. But each day I got a bit further. Clive made a good nurse but luckily didn't dress as one!! His sister Lynn was also wonderful.

Two weeks after my op Clive took me back to my parents. It was fab to see Dominic too who also waited on me hand and foot. I felt very guilty 'just sitting' and getting my every need met. Two days later we flew out to Malaga for a week in a timeshare with Mum and Dad. I got insurance from and took it all very slowly. Dad ensured I carried nothing at all and once we got to the apartment I stayed there the whole week! The journey was very tiring and the next day I was VERY sore and hardly moved but after that the days of laying in the sun were brilliant. We even had UK NW television and took smug comfort in the wind and rain of the UK whilst we basked in 80 degrees.

It was a risk me going to Spain so soon after my operation but so glad I did. It is nice to have a suntan in November/December too, and everyone tells me how well I look. Thanks Mum and Dad!

I did have a MAJOR upset a week after my op when my website and emails all 'went' due to an issue with the domain name. Perhaps though it was good that it did go offline with me, so to speak, as it stopped my usual avalanche of mail which I wasn't really up to dealing with. It has been back now for a week and I am finding it quite hard to keep up with already! I just hope I haven't lost any potential speaking events for next year or offering support if needed. But I accept I needed 'me time' too.

The last few weeks have gone with a gradual return to normality. Each day I seem to have more stamina and desire to 'do'. I have had a few tears of frustration when my head has wanted to do things but my body refuses to follow it! My challenge tomorrow is to do the M62 drive myself for an exciting weekend with Dom. Mum and Dad are going to London to be in the audience of Strictly come Dancing! Knowing them they'll end up grinning behind Bruce!

I got a great deal of information and support from the
They have a daily tip for you in recovery which I found inspiring. The forums were useful to look at too when you have an 'is this normal?' moment. I highly recommend the site and wish the hospital had told me about it earlier on - I will be telling my consultant so at my appointment on the 17th.

I am not very good at doing 'nothing' but I have had to accept that for a few weeks. Daytime television can become a drag. I found I couldn't concentrate on much either, so my plan to write my book hasn't happened - yet! But I do have something to show for the last few weeks - a load of pink and white baby clothes which I have knitted! My sister is expecting her first baby in March and Clive's niece had a baby girl yesterday. I can't wait to have a cuddle and be a brilliant Auntie. At last my wish to buy and make pink and frilly things is granted - the difference is that I won't have the sleepless nights but hope to offer their Mums any support I can. And not be a pain!!! Mum and Dad sent me a stunning basket of fruit when I was in hospital and it is now refilled ready for baby Ruby!

So what have learnt from this experience?

* That recovery is similar whether it is a mental or physical illness, although the time aspect of a physical illness is easier to deal with - you have a vague outline of what is likely to happen.
* To practice what I preach - i.e. be good to yourself, appeal to the senses.
* Appreciate what those around you do for you - by trying to do too much, too soon it makes problems for everyone.
* 'Enjoy' your 'off' time - it passes very quickly.
* Having a recovery 'plan' of support and allowing myself 'time-off' has helped.
* Having realistic goals of treats to aim for but having a 'just in case' plan if I wasn't well enough, has been good.
* Asking for help, advice and support is good for everyone involved.
* That this too will pass and make you stronger (our new mantra!)

My worries have all but gone - my scar is just a reminder; it hurt but I didn't suffer; I feel closer to Dom who is growing into a fine young man; I feel all-woman even if my tummy is as round as a Christmas pudding but will wait for Pilates later to tone it; I have enjoyed and appreciated being spoiled and some time-off; I love my special people even more!

But most importantly I feel the mission statement from Postpartum Support International is just as valid post-hysterectomy as it is for those suffering mental illness after childbirth -

* You are not to blame
* You are not alone
* You will get better.

I know I still have a way to go towards a full recovery and I still need to take care of myself and be gentle. I have had some wonderful support from many people in many different ways - I have appreciated it all. Thank you so much. When Clive speaks he stresses the need for support to help you through life. I agree entirely.

Now if you'll excuse me I have a new baby to visit!


Advice for those considering another baby after suffering from postnatal illness
I want another baby but suffered badly from PND with my first child. Am I more likely to suffer from it second time around?
Sadly statistics show us that there is a 50% risk as opposed to 15 – 20% of developing a mental health problem after pregnancy if you have suffered one before. However, please bear in mind that every pregnancy is different and just because it happened first time is not an automatic assumption it will happen again. Yet there are ways to minimise the risk and give you more control and confidence you will be well next time as you will have less fear and far more knowledge.
It is vital to get your support team in place and ensure that in the early days after giving birth all systems are in place to allow you maximum time for rest, for yourself and your baby. Even before you get pregnant reconnect with the health professionals and family and friends involved the first time and review what worked, what didn’t and what could have been better, e.g. medication, talking therapy. Recall the early signs from last time and warn everyone to look out for them and to respond accordingly thus meaning a faster recovery. Try to plan to give birth at a different time of year to make it ‘different’ from first time. Have discussed and written plans in place for the birth and early days, for example, who will help to look after the first child. Avoid any major stressors, such as moving house. Ensure you keep physically well by eating properly, by taking gentle exercise. Make your plans to feel reassured and in control, have the support structures ready, think positively and visualise the happy pregnancy and motherhood that can be yours.

I also recommend you read 'When Baby Brings the Blues' by Dr. A Dalfern as she has some great tips and advice.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Website and email fixed!

During the past month my website and email at have been offline.

I am relieved and delighted to say they are now reinstated.

However, if you have tried to contact me during November by email I will not have received it, so please resend.

My email now returns to

I am recovering well from the surgery I had too, although finding it hard to 'do nothing'! I am making great progress but am surprised how little I can do before I hit 'a brick wall' of weakness. But each day I get a little stronger.

Come the New year I hope to be back 'on form'.

Best wishes,

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 5 November 2009

My website and contact details

My website and email are having a blip!

Please contact me via if you need me!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Signing off for a little while!

Tomorrow I am going in hospital for surgery and have been advised to take a little time off.

So there is likely to be a bit of a gap in postings here for a while.

Please keep in touch by email as I will look at them every now and then but please be patient for a reply.

If urgent please contact Clive via

Best wishes!

Elaine Hanzak

International Infection Prevention Week

Since this is International Infection Prevention Week, perhaps the readers of my Blog would be interested to know that Kimberly-Clark Health Care is on the forefront of protecting patients from Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) and has put together a campaign dedicated to that prevention called HAI Watch: Not on My Watch.

They've created a site that has information for both healthcare professionals and healthcare consumers.

Find it here

Elaine Hanzak

Home Start volunteers - great people!

On Tuesday this week I had the pleasure of presenting my story and knowledge around postnatal depression to Home Start volunteers in St. Helens.

I highly recommend this charity if you know of a family with children under 5 years old who need some extra support.

They help to increase the confidence and independence of families by:

* Visiting families in their own homes to offer support, friendship and practical assistance
* Reassuring parents that their childcare problems are not unusual or unique
* Encouraging parents' strengths and emotional well-being for the ultimate benefit of their children
* Trying to get the fun back into family life

So who do you know who needs this support? Or have you time to spare to become a volunteer?

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

'Childbirth sparked mum's mental hell'

One of the mums who has been in contact with me is making an impact on spreading awareness of puerperal psychosis at the moment.

Joanne was on GMTV last week and now has been featured in her local paper.

Keep up the good work Joanne!

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Baby Show and

On Friday I went down to London for the day to be on a stand with other experts at The Babyshow with offers you individual advice and support, by phone,
direct from the country's best experts.

We've hand-picked the finest professionals so you receive help you can trust.
Together, the experts have more than 2,000 years of experience helping the public.

1. Choose an expert
2. Book a call
3. Dial in for individual, trustworthy advice

The Baby Show
was packed with relevant stands, information and demonstrations. Also lots of freebies which I collected for my sister and Clive's niece who are both expecting babies.

It was a great opportunity to chat to some of the other of the experts listed on the Greatvine site.

These included:

Maggie Howell, who has some great CD's and products on natal hypnotherapy.

Delphi Ellis - who has a wealth of knowledge on antenatal depression (see posting on my blog on this).

Jo Tantum, specialist in sleep and twins.

Caroline Cosgrove, who has Baby Concierge shopping services - brilliant to save time for any mums to be.

Geraldine Lee, a nurse and personal development coach in women's mental health.

A fitness expert Vicky Warr

I also had a chat with the editor of Prima Baby who were one of the main sponsors of the event.

Judging by the calibre of the dynamic team at and the quality of the experts I had the pleasure of meeting it is a fantastic source of advice for people.
Have a look!

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 19 October 2009

Antenatal depression

Several people in the past have asked me about antenatal depression and as I did not experience it I feel I cannot comment on it. However, I now know a lady who can!

Whilst at The Baby Show in London on Friday with I met another expert. Delphi Ellis did suffer from antenatal depression and has set up a website to help others called Depression in Pregnancy Care. Visit

It was great to meet up with Delphi and we found we had much in common.

Her other website is linked with her profession as helping with holistic wellness using the power of dreams.
She was on This Morning today with Phillip and Holly.

See her Greatvine profile at

See my profile at

Keep up the excleent work Delphi!

Elaine Hanzak

Some new useful links to improve life!

In the last week I have met some amazing people whose work may be of interest.

I had a meeting with Beverley from to talk about mental health and the workplace.
She shares an interest with me in emotional well being, with a particular passion for homeopathy.
Have a look at The Society of Homeopaths at

I attended a breakfast meeting for the Centre for Leadership Development held at Liverpool Hope University

These events are run by John Howey,their Business Development manager.

The wonderful Molly Harvey, The Corporate Soul Woman, gave the seminar talk.

Molly Harvey, Corporate Soul Woman, is a world-class business speaker and author of books on topics including ‘Leadership Development’ and ‘Executive Improvement’.

She helps Chief Executives, leaders and managers get even better by achieving positive lasting change in their own behaviour and the behaviour of their teams.

One of her greatest skills is working with the board of directors to help them clarify and simplify the organisation’s vision and strategy.

To inspire at such an early hour is a true gift and talent! One of the questions she asked was for those who were happy in their jobs - to those who did not put up their hands she challenged them to find their passion. I am delighted to say I was in the former group!

One of the principles of good patient care I speak about is for getting the Zest back into life - the fun and spirit. In recent months several people have mentioned Stephanie Davies from Laughlogy to me. . She is the next speaker at The Centre for Leadership Development in Liverpool on 19th November. See their website or email for details.

I just hope Clive doesn't make me laugh too much after my operation this Friday! It seems I need to learn a special technique to hold my stitches if I laugh!!

I had a lovely weekend in the Yorkshire Dales with Dominic - walking in the outdoors is a great stress buster and we had a brilliant time. He we are after climbing up the waterfall at Gordale Scar.

We were most impressed with the village of Malham, and have vowed when I am fit enough again we shall return.

Elaine Hanzak

Networking tips at Liverpool Chamber of Commerce

I was asked to do a 'new' presentation on 15th October - on networking skills for
new members at Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. The idea was to get people
talking to each other and not listening to me! That was a challenge as I
normally expect my audiences to listen not talk!

However, armed with my experiences of networking over the last four years
and hints picked up from Will Kintish and Clive Gott I put my own version together.

Feeling a little like the school teacher I used to be I had to use a whistle
to break the conversations that quickly filled the room and I was delighted
with the buzz!

I was asked for my hints, so here they are:-

If you invest selflessly at networking events and go with an approach of
getting to know people and seeking how to help them, it will be far more
effective in the long run than a 'hard sell' approach.

Go alone or if with a colleague, separate from them - you can talk to them

Wear your name badge on the right, so when you give a firm handshake and
hear a name your eye goes to the written version too, so making it easier to

Ladies - ditch the handbag and leave hands free for greeting others.

Business cards - make sure they have information on both sides otherwise
your naked back will be used as a notepad for someone else's details!

When you ask for a card, make a comment on something about it.

People do business with people they like, so instead of talking 'business'
ask and LISTEN to questions about hobbies, interests, favourite restaurants.
Share history, e.g. area you were born, where you went to school.

A fun activity is to find something unusual you have in common. At one event
I discovered a mutual admiration for a fish and chip shop in Ullapool!

After the event - follow-up.

a. Look at the attendance list and if there was someone you wanted to
meet but didn't, ask the Chamber to introduce you.

b. Send a friendly e-mail next day.

c. Contact via social networking sites, e.g. Twitter, Linked-In,
Facebook, Chamber of Commerce.

d. Send a 'saw this and thought of you' information, event, etc.
linked to one of their interests

e. Arrange a meeting.

Best networking tools? SMILE and be positive!

Thank you Liverpool Chamber staff and members for an enjoyable evening.

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Can we improve levels of patient care outlined by CQC today?

Below standard levels of patient care have been highlighted today by a report.

One in eight NHS trusts has been told it must urgently improve the care it provides, by a new regulator publishing ratings on England's 392 trusts.

The assessments by the Care Quality Commission show a drop in the number of hospitals meeting basic standards in areas such as hygiene and safety.

But it also said more services than ever could be rated good or excellent.

From April, the CQC will gain new powers to be able to shut any of the 47 underachieving trusts down.

As a await an operation next week I could be worried by such a report! However, having already been an emergency patient in the hospital and ward I am going back to I am not concerned.

But I am aware that many NHS staff feel pressurised by all the targets and morale is very low. Maybe we need to remind them of what patients really want?

Have a look at my video here on what I feel matters, and others have endorsed.

Those who have heard my full presentation tell me that I remind them of why they originally entered the profession! More content staff has to lead to improved patient satisfaction.

Have you heard my presentation? Can you tell me how your performance and patient satisfaction has been affected?

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Mental health-substance use - authors needed!

Via my networks I have recieved this plea for authors from David Cooper:-

I wonder if I might seek your help finding three authors for a series of 6 textbooks I am editing for Radcliffe Publishing, due for publication in 2010 please? The series is: Mental health-substance use. I have yet to identify the last three authors (of 90), and it is here I hope to gain your help please. The contribution is International, selecting authorities in given areas of expertise, including Carlo DiClemente, Phil Barker, Lorne Korman, Kim Mueser, Christine Barrowclough, etc.

I am having problems identifying authors to complete these chapters:

1: Book 2 - Chapter 2: Historical policy approaches to mental health-substance. This chapter is in Book 2 - Providing and developing services in mental health-substance use - this is a theoretical based textbook. The word count is: 3000 and the deadline is short at 30 November 2009 (at the latest).

3: Book 2 - Chapter 8: Guidelines for working with mental health-substance use. This chapter is in Book 2 - Providing and developing services in mental health-substance use - this is a theoretical based textbook and this chapter needs to examine current International guidance and bring together best practice as well as develop forward thinking on approaches to this fast developing area of intervention and treatment . The word count is: 5000 and the deadline is short at 30 November 2009 (at the latest).

2: Book 6 - Chapter 2: Alcohol and mental health, in practice. This chapter is in Book 6 - Practice in mental health-substance use' - This chapter is very much practice based textbook using case studies/case scenarios as examples of 'how to.' From identification, assessment, intervention and outcome. The word count is: 4000 and the deadline is short at 30 November 2009 (at the latest).

The series as a whole is very much interactive using self-assessment exercises, reflective practice, key points, etc.

David B. Cooper

Editor in Chief: Mental health and substance use: dual diagnosis. Taylor & Francis Publishing

Editor: Mental health and substance use book series. Radcliffe Publishing
Apartment 43
Manton Court
Kings Road
West Sussex
RH13 5AE
T: +44 (0) 1403 256318

Please contact David if you can help.

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Postnatal illness on GMTV with Lorraine tomorrow morning

Have a look at GMTV with Lorraine on Wednesday 14th October between 8.35 and 9.25 a.m.

A lovely mum whom I have been in contact with over recent times is bravely telling her story.

She wanted to stress the need for more specialist mother and baby units in the UK but her time slot ran out. Nonetheless I am sure there will be people watching who will realise that they are not alone in this illness.

Well done Jo!

Elaine Hanzak

The church, NSPCC and postnatal illness

We drew piglets!

For a long while I have felt that the voluntary sector and the community could be big players in helping families affected by postnatal illness and passionately wanted to investigate ways to do this.

Back in January Clive and I did a joint workshop on personal development.
One of the delegates, David, approached me after hearing my story, to ask if there was anyway his church could get involved in helping families also affected by postnatal illness.

The outcome was on 30th September we held an evening at St. Peter's and All Saint's Church in Morley, Leeds.

Initially I was just going to speak about my illness, recovery and offer suggestions on how people can help sufferers, with practical and emotional support.

I also contacted various NHS staff and David was very busy letting other groups, e.g. Children's centres, know about the event.

We were delighted that we then had presentations on behalf of health visitors and the psychiatrist from the Leeds Mother and Baby Unit.

The day before the event I spoke about it on BBC Radio Leeds lunchtime programme,

Due to the publicity we were contacted by Chris Parkin who works for the NSPCC. She has been running a postnatal support group in Bramley and Armley for many years. I visited the centre - it is a perfect set-up. We all did one of her activities she uses at the group to break down barriers - by drawing piglets and getting them interpreted to show personality aspects!

The outcome of the evening is that we appear to have the bones of progress:-

1. Chris will offer her expertise to set up and help run a support group at the church.
2. The church can provide a building, creche, volunteers as needed to help the group.
3. Volunteers from the church family already have police check certificates (CRB) so can help families with shopping, travel to group, etc.
4. Chris and members of the church will work with health visitors, children's centres etc. too.

I am absolutely thrilled that mine and David's beliefs look like they are feasible! Hooray!

If you would like to know more please contact myself or Chris at

It seems the only resource we will need are some craft items!

If you would like me to introduce the concept at your church please let me know!

Many thanks to David, Nick, Chris, Melinda, Rowan, Sally and all those involved in the evening.
Watch this space!

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 9 October 2009

Inspiration NW LiVE event October 9th - and Kitbags!

NHS managerial and director level staff in the NW of the UK attended this event which I presented a workshop at.

That's me, bottom left in turquoise! I know - not exactly a close-up shot!

It was organised by the excellent Cynergy events
From my perspective as a speaker they looked after me brilliantly and were so very organised!

The venue was stunning -

This is what it promised ...

We are pleased to announce details of our service experience event, coinciding with
National Customer Service Week to highlight the importance of getting it right for patients.
Focusing on best practice from within the health sector, the event will give delegates an understanding of how to measure patient experience and will include an
exciting awards ceremony to reward inspirational staff who have given the SHA ideas for service improvement via our 6 month diary room campaign.
In addition to our varied programme, delegates can network in the marketplace which features touchscreen technology, book stalls, poster presentations and many more interactive stands.
Our intended audience is director and managerial level staff and colleagues who can use what they learn from the day to raise the profile of service experience back in their own organisation.

And here is the report of the day

Next to my exhibition stand was a lovely lady called Dr. Margaret Hannah. We chatted and soon realised we shared a huge passion for the same approach - using the senses to impove and maintain good mental health and well being. Dr. Hannah has taken this further and working with the International Futures Forum has devised and produced a sensory kitbag.

Kitbag comes from International Futures Forum, a registered charity committed to sustaining human aspiration in powerful times. The complexity and uncertainty in today’s world can make us feel overwhelmed. IFF developed Kitbag to support inner growth and help people deal more effectively with today’s unprecedented challenges.

Kitbag is designed to help find deeper connections in life – with ourselves, other people and the world. It contains a set of resources to support and facilitate personal growth, recognising all the while that we have the capacity for real learning, growth and healing.

It is a beautiful kit and one that I would recommend to postnatal depression sufferers and support groups.

As my partner Clive
says, sometimes it is good to go 'forward to basics', i.e. go back to the simple things we started with.

A sensory approach makes us literally 'wake up and smell the coffee'! We miss so much in our busy, complicated lives.

Just for a few minutes now just STOP. Sit back and become aware of what you can hear, feel, smell, taste and see. Almost immediately you will begin to relax. Dr. Hannah has a great deal of clinical reseacrh to back up the Kitbag - I highly recommend you take a look!

At lunchtime we were entertained by

Special thanks to my parents who came to man my exhibition table whilst I did my workshop!


Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Fighting stigma of mental illness

I was invited today to speak on BBC Radio Leeds
for a lunchtime feature on fighting the stigma of mental illness.

I told my story and commented on situations sent in by listeners.

Fellow guest was Jackie Whiteley who recently won the Yorkshire Post Woman of Achievement Award.

Jackie and I knew each other through Forward Ladies and had been to Europe with the group last year.

Elaine Hanzak

The Top Ten High Impact Actions for Nursing and Midwifery

Calling all nurses and midwives!

I have received this information.

Dear Colleagues

The Top Ten High Impact Actions for Nursing and Midwifery went live this morning as a joint initiative between the DH, the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, the RCN, RCM and the NMC. The aim is to discover what changes to service have been made by nurses and midwives on the frontline that have improved quality for patients, prevented harm or illness and reduced costs – that, if replicated nationally, will have a
huge impact. The Top Ten High Impact Actions website went live today
Monday 21st September 2009 until 12th October 2009 and I would encourage you to send this amongst your networks all nurses and midwives to encourage them to submit details of service improvements they have made through the site.

I have attached an invitation to nurses and midwives, a banner for use on local websites which can be linked to the following website address:, a copy of a press release that has gone to all trade press and a poster in both A4 and A3.

I would be grateful if you could cascade these tools to your networks and teams within your area and encourage them to maximise the opportunity for the nurses and midwives within their organisation. I am sure they will also find this a good background against which to get some local good news stories out there – especially in reference to current discussions in the media about the economic climate and the possible impact on public services.

Kind regards

Gerry Bolger
Programme Director - Quality in Nursing
CNO's Professional Leadership Team, Department of Health Room 452C, Skipton House, 80 London Road, London SE1 6LH

Telephone: 020-797-26511
Admin contact:0113-2546056
Mobile: 07554-115990

Get that good practice on there!

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 2 October 2009

Switched- on Awards - Birmingham

Clive and I were invited to the Switched-on Biz awards in Birmingham by Angela Agnew.
Great excuse to wear a little black dress! We had a great evening and it was wonderful to see so many success stories in the all doom and gloom of the recession we hear so much about.

The brief was:-

SWITCHED-ON AWARDS………………Thursday 1st October 2009 The annual highlight in the switched-on events portfolio

This glittering gala evening now in it’s 3rd year is without doubt, “the place to be seen” a terrific opportunity for networking, socialising with colleagues, friends, and entertaining clients.

The 2009 Business Awards Gala Evening in partnership with Business Link in the West Midlands promises to be a night to remember!

Join us and see for yourself how much fun we have doing business at Birmingham’s most recent and largest city centre venue,celebrate in style the outstanding achievements of the Midlands finest individuals.

Walk the Red Carpet to a champagne reception sponsored by Harvey’s Wine, followed by a superb 4 course dinner, and entertainment guaranteed to “set the evening alight”

The full report will be here soon:

Thank you for the invitation!

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Samaritans conference - self harm and those left behind after suicide

On a sunny September morning I was privileged to join the lovely staff and volunteers of the Samaritans conference for the second year running.

They have a lovely system of designating a 'host' to meet and greet you and generally look after you as a speaker. It is a really friendly and useful gesture and much appreciated - thank you Hazel.

The Samaritans provides confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.

The theme of the conference was to look at issues of self harm and those left behind after suicide. I included these aspects in my presentation.

Useful websites I have found are:-

Self harm information
The Site has many ‘problem’ areas but the self harm section has information on recovery, advice and support
National Self Harm network – useful download on helping others
A comprehensive source of self-injury information, includes definitions, explanations of why, etiology and demographics.

Those left behind after suicide information
SMHAI strives to be the most comprehensive and informative Survivor network available anywhere.
Tips and groups for mutual support for survivors in the aftermath of suicide
Links to more books.
Many links to all aspects of grief
Relevant information and resources.
After suicide: a guide for those left behind

In addition The Samaritans had been given a session on dealing with those left behind after suicide and had all been given a copy of an excellent booklet called 'Help is at Hand' - a resource for people bereaved by suicide and other sudden, traumatic death.
This is a Department of Health publication and is available here

I listened to a wonderful presentation by their Chair to almost 95% of their delegates in the final session. How many conferences have that level at their close? She gave several statistics which amazed me ... a person takes their own life in the UK and Republic of Ireland every 94 minutes. The Samaritans take a call every 7 seconds. Their service is very much needed and looks to be going from strength to strength.

Thank you for having me and many thanks to those so kind enough to send me their wonderful comments on my presentation. They keep me going on with my mission!

Oh and I learnt something .... it is not a good idea to carry a full Sunday lunch and dessert on a tray in one hand and a trolley case in the other AND wear white jeans! Oops! Who was a drama queen in the restaurant with her lunch literally hanging down her legs?!! Thanks to the lady who provided wet wipes and it was a good job I was going home by car!!!

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 28 September 2009

NW Perinatal Mental Health Network - 'Assessment of Parenting in UK Mother and Baby Units'

I had the pleasure of presenting my story and messages at the eighth meeting for the Northwest Perinatal Mental Health Network at Wythenshawe Hospital on 23rd September.

We also had a very interesting presentation by Dr A Wieck, Consultant perinatal Psychiatrist and Honorary Senior Lecturer from Wythenshawe Hospital. She spoke about 'Assessment of Parenting in UK Mother and Baby Units'.

There are many studies showing how interactions with their babies are affected if a mother has depressions, e.g.
Stern (2005), Cohn at al (1990), Field (1990) and Murray (1996).
Long term effects may include depression, anxiety and reduced IQ - Halligan (2007), Hay (2008).
There are further complications with mothers who suffer from schizophrenia (Niemi, 2003) , Sameroff (1984), Goodman and Brumley (1990), Naslund (1985), McNeil (1985), Wan (2008).
Parenting outcomes of mothers discharged from Mother and Baby Units have been studied by Salmon (2004), Abel (2005) and Howard (2004). Data was collected from MBU's from 1996 - 2002.
There is no standard way of assessment used for parenting skills but some used are
Bethlem mother/infant interaction scale
Department of health assessment Framework
Provision of Practical and Emotional Care (PPEC, by Seneviratne et al)
Louis Macro
Care Index video assessment

Research is on-going and more needs to be done.

We then listened to a current complex case study of a lady who has a range of complicated issues around her maternal mental health and being able to provide adequately for her baby. I felt that I had hardly suffered in comparison.

The next meeting will be held on 2nd December for interested professionals working in this area.

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 25 September 2009

Nursing In Practice - London, domestic violence and breast feeding

I was delighted to present at the Nursing in Practice event at London.
Designed specifically to meet the educational needs of practice nurses and other primary care specialists, the programme features an impressive collection of speakers delivering highly topical and relevant presentations.

The venue was the impressive Business Design centre.

I attended an informative session on 'Domestic violence and child protection: practice implications' by Dr. Lorraine Radford, Head of research, NSPCC.
Support services available she listed were:
Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247
ChildLine 0800 1111
Parenting Programmes (NICE report 21A)
Domestic violence perpetrator programmes (Respect 0845 1228 609)
National Association of Child Contact Services

Dr Radford outlined the key areas to be covered
1. Awareness - the impact of domestic violence on children and young people
2. Practice implications - for nurse working directly with adults and with children and young people in the community, in clinics or in hospitals
3. Working together - implications for working with other agencies especially for named nurses and for managers

She also mentioned the NSPCC resource 'Talking to my Mum'. See details here and for other resources.

Guidance for healthcare professionals can be found at:-
Department of Health (2005) Responding to domestic abuse: a handbook for health professionals
BMA (2007) Domestic abuse
RCN (2007) Domestic Violence Guidance for Nurses
Home Office(2009) Children and Domestic Violence toolkit
LSCB guidance, e.g. Greater London.

Where there are injuries to a child look at

Useful Books

SCIE Research briefing 25: Children’s and young people’s experiences of domestic violence involving adults in a parenting role
By Anne Worrall, Jane Boylan and Diane Roberts

I had a brief chat with Alison Blenkinsop who was presenting on 'Priming the treasure chest - maximising early breastmilk supply'.
read about her here

We did a book swap and I am looking forward to reading hers - 'Fit to Bust'

Amongst the stand I visited were two charming gentleman from
Team24 are the leading medical locum agency specialising in doctor jobs, practice nurse jobs, SHO jobs, general practitioner jobs and other NHS jobs.

Thank you for another great event, Nursing in Practice!

Elaine Hanzak

P.S. Mum came along with me on this trip. She is amazing for finding vouchers and bargains as well as being a star on using London buses! We had an excellent value meal and cocktails at The Roadhouse in Covent Garden for 50% off! Have a look at

Thursday, 24 September 2009

New Horizons: Government consults on mental health and wellbeing

The Mental Health Foundation news archive contains stories on mental health issues going back to 2001. One of their latest links is on New Horizons.

New Horizons: Government consults on mental health and wellbeing

‘New Horizons’ marks a new era in mental health. It sets out a dynamic new approach to improving well-being for the whole population, aiming for the first time to create a powerful alliance that can target the root causes of poor mental health.

More information at:

To contribute to the New Horizon consultation please visit

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Support for students and professionals with mental health issues

I have been following a thread on the Mental Health in Higher Education mailings on Support for Students with mental health issues - and professionals.

As part of this I have come across .

Life today is complicated and Employees have more to deal with both at work and in the home. Sometimes problems need addressing to avoid increases in absence and decreases in efficiency at work. Confidential Counselling and Psychology can solve these issues.

We provide confidential counselling, well being and support services for your staff, our client base includes the Public Sector, Private Companies, as well as a specific services to Further and Higher Education, including Universites. We are members and contributors to the English Healthy Universities Network.

Work related stress, depression and staff sickness absence are major problems for you the employer, and your staff, costing time, money and even litigation.

Have a look and see if they can be of help to you.

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Need information about Violence Prevention?

This is a useful website that has a lot of statistics relating to violence prevention. Available through the WHO it has a teach VIP package available free which has powerpoint presentations, teaching notes and student handouts on a variety of topics, gender violence, youth violence, child abuse, etc .

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 21 September 2009

North East and Cumbria Mother and Baby Unit

Families in the Northumberland area should have access to their specialist Mother and baby unit.
The unit, based on our St George's Park site in Morpeth, cares for women who are experiencing mental health problems and their babies up to 12 months old. These problems may have been present before the birth or have developed afterwards. We admit women from within the Northern Region as we are a Northern Regional Specialist Service. Women can be admitted from outside the Northern Region, following a referral to Dr Walsh, Consultant Psychiatrist. The unit offers a homely atmosphere in which the bonding of a mother and child can continue, while mothers have access to a full range of psychiatric treatment and services appropriate to their needs. Partners and family members are also encouraged to help care for the mothers and babies.

They need to keep their profile up so that mums in their catchment area know that if they need to be admitted they can come to them rather than be admitted without their baby. They are the regional unit for the North East and Cumbria and started 22 years ago although they are now a new build (3 years old) and have 6 beds. It’s a lovely spacious unit and the rooms are en-suite and have double beds so that fathers can stay occasionally as necessary.

I have been contacted by some Mums who speak very highly of the unit!
Keep up the excellent work.

Elaine Hanzak

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Newcastle University /DCSF Relationships Matter Focus Group - Your Involvement Requested

The next phase of this research project being undertaken by the Institute of Health & Society at Newcastle University on behalf of the Department for Children, Schools and Families is seeking involvement from people from a range of backgrounds and faith groups to contribute to focus groups on relationship issues to try and identify what support people would like to receive to help them to keep their relationships strong.

If you would like to get involved in this project please follow the following contact information:
Online questionnaire -
Relationships Matter blog -
Email -
Write - Relationships Matter, PO Box 1260, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE99 2FQ
Phone - 0191 222 7963 and talk to Jane, who will put you in touch with one of the researchers.

Elaine Hanzak

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The treatment of PPD should include the mother with the infant

There is some research from Boston about mothers with postpartum depression with suicidal thoughts and their infant interactions.

The joys of motherhood for many women can also lead other new mums to experience postpartum depression and even worse – ideas for committing suicide.

"The treatment of PPD (postpartum depression) should include the mother with the infant -- not the mother alone -- to best remediate the relationship where depressed mothers are often less able to be sensitive and responsive to their babies."

I agree completely! I was separated from my son as a breast feeding mother when I had puerperal psychosis. I now know that was detrimental to us both and not just an everlasting feeling of being 'robbed' of breast feeding. It frustrates me that we still have more specialist Mother and Baby Units in UK prisons than we do in the NHS.

More information at:

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 18 September 2009

Platform event - speakers, buffet and networking!

Last night I attended a networking event arranged by The Centre for Health and Social Development
If you are looking for high quality consultancy, training or research expertise in the public sector and social enterprise then they can help you.

We met at the impressive Liverpool Medical Institute

The evening was the second Platform event and there will be more planned for later in the year.

The speakers were Dr. David Colin-Thomé, National Clinical Director for Primary Care
and Fay Selvan of Big Life Group

During a very tasty buffet I chatted to a number of people including Emma Beck, a client director from Place. Place Group provides consultancy, programme management and delivery services which are focused on driving the best possible outcomes for young people, their families and their communities. Their services have been designed to guide you and your stakeholders on a journey of transformation.

Also to Helen from Active 8 Success -
Active 8 Success deliver high quality support to enable young adults with mental health issues to fulfill their inherent potential.
Based in Birkenhead, Merseyside we provide young adults with a personalised, responsive, and ‘client-led’ service.

I also chatted to Jo, a nurse practitioner from Blacon Children's centre{77FB110B-6763-413B-A6EE-CBD0D1713CB1} and told her about the day programme I have for such centres with my colleague Ann Girling, a health visitor.

Thank you to the Hope Centre for an informative evening and the opportunity to network. When is the next one?!

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Bonding with your toddler after Postnatal Illness

Many of the books talk about bonding with your new born baby but if you have suffered from mental health issues as a new mother bonding difficulties can continue at a later stage.

Recently a mum asked for ideas to help this. I reassured her by saying that many children will express a preference at times for their dad, grandparents or significant other. As a recovering mum this can make you feel even more guilt and convince you that you are a failure! It can be so very hard when they reach out to others when you so need them to want you.

Be patient. Be kind to yourself and the bond WILL grow.

Here are some further sites with useful ideas.,,24_708873-1,00.html

Good luck!

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Nursing in Practice event, Cardiff

Following on from my presentation for Nursing in Practice event at Manchester, I went to Cardiff to repeat it there.

The night before I had dinner at Strada at Mermaid Quay and have to say the three young men who served us had the best customer service I have experienced in a long while - the food was good too.

I had a wonderful evening with Terry Stuart, a Cardiff GP who also is a very successful speaker, mainly on stress management. Have a look at his work here

The event was held at the impressive City Hall.

I had a wander around the many exhibits but the following caught my attention:-

The Queen's Nursing Institute the charity dedicated to improving patient care by supporting community nurses.

The new Nutricia Fortisip Compact food supplement which gives an extra 60% energy -

But I feel I must say what a pleasure it was to meet a wonderful group of people from The Healing Trust. Healing is a natural therapy where healing energy is thought to be channelled by the healer through to the healee. However, they stressed that one of their huge benefits was to listen to people - so important! This service is available across the UK and could be another source of support from those suffering from postnatal depression. Have a look for a healer in your area at

I also spoke to ladies from the Open University as I am currently doing some critical reading for one of their new courses on mental health nursing.

One of the presentations I was especially interested in was from Dr. Heather Currie who is a specialist gynaecologist and obstetrician. As I face a hysterectomy next month I want to learn about her area of the menopause! We ended up travelling on the same train later so shared plenty of information! For anything about this subject take a look at her excellent award winning site at . They are planning a weekend retreat which sounds wonderful!

Health professionals may also like to look at The British Menopause Society at

If you need information on Premenstrual Syndrome look at

On our train journey with Arriva I must comment on the excellent service two fellow passengers who were visually impaired received from the train manager and young lady from the restaurant. They were so polite and helpful - a credit to their company.

Thank you to the Nursing in Practice team for another successful event and looking after me so well again - I lok forward to the next one in London!

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Raphael Healthcare - Delivering Care without Compromise

A few years ago when I first started on my passion to speak about mental health I did some sales work as a second job. Whilst business networking at for that I chatted to Arthur Robinson from Raphael Healthcare with a view to my sales but ended up speaking to his new staff at their first hospital for women with mental health issues at The Farndon Unit in Newark! You never know what you may get from networking!

Read about Raphael Healthcare here:

Raphael Healthcare is established to become a market leader in the provision of the highest quality services for women with a diagnosis of mental illness and/or personality disorder.

We will strive to provide the best care within the finest buildings, providing high quality environments for our patients and staff to enjoy.

Our first hospital, The Farndon Unit in Newark, Nottinghamshire is now fully operational.
Raphael Healthcare are also planning to develop a number of secure units for females across the UK.

We are currently on preferred providers of Low Secure Services for the West Midlands, the East Midlands and South West region Commissioning teams .

Delighted to see your progress Arthur!

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 14 September 2009

BBC Radio Manchester, adoption, lies and history!

This morning I was a guest again on BBC Radio Manchester for Heather Stott's coffee club from 9 to 10 am.

Fellow guests were Chris, an antique dealer and Julie, a BA flight attendant. Our task was to chat about some items from the days news.
We talked about Elton John's comments about wanting to adopt a child.
I spoke about my brother who went to Zimbabwe many years ago to do Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) He met his wife at the village he was teaching in. She had two daughters and a son. My brother adopted the two little girls and finally came back to the UK when troubles in their native land became too dangerous. One daughter is now training to be an accountant and the other is a staff nurse - she got married in Harare two weeks ago to her childhood sweetheart. Pictured are my parents, the happy couple and my brother and his wife - plus other adorable little girls! We feel very proud of Kevin and for all he and his family have achieved. Dominic and I were sorry not to make it to the wedding. Through adoption those little girls, now charming adults, have been able to make the most of opportunities available to them and also to 'give' to others.

We also spoke about the news today that cancer patients who have a positive attitude have a better quality of life.
It concerns me that sometimes treatments only look at the main focus, e.g the physical aspects, but forget or have no time to address the 'whole' person. Yet the one helps the other. I know when I was suffering severe depression and psychosis I did not feel I wanted to eat properly, was unable to sleep and could not be bothered to exercise. All these impacted on my physical health too. My message is to tackle all these areas in tiny steps - don't aim to run a marathon, just walk up and downstairs an extra couple of times. Little by little along with practical and emotional support progress will be made.

We also talked about the feature today on lying! It seems that one of the biggest we all do is to say that nothing is wrong and we are 'fine'. I hear this so often especially between health professionals and patients! In our society we are almost conditioned to say 'I'm fine' when asked how we are. Generally people don't want to know about our bunions or leaky pipes! But when we do actually care and instinctively feel the person isn't 'fine', what's the worse that can happen if you look them in the eye, place your hand on their forearm and ask 'but are you really?' Often this can open the flood gates to the truth. One Mum suffering from postnatal depression said 'Huh! Fine! That really means I am fed up, insecure, neurotic and emotional!'. So the next time someone says they are fine ...

The fact that the number of pupils studying History GCSE is declining was also covered. As a former school teacher I am not sorry to have left the profession due to the constraints of the National Curriculum. When I started teaching we had plans but also the flexibility to take advantage of our pupil's interest and experiences which gave rise to useful and effective learning. Dominic has just returned from a fabulous trip with his Dad to the USA. He has hundreds of films and photographs of the flora, fauna, geography and history of the National Parks they went to. He is so passionate and enthused by it and eager to tell us all what he learnt. We suggested he did a presentation to his class. He explained that others in his class also have things they wish to share but the message is the same - 'no time due to National Curriculum'. What a shame that enthusiasm and relevant and meaningful opportunities for learning are wasted.

Thank you for inviting me Heather and to Chris and Julie for your company.

Elaine Hanzak

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Need some tips to raise your energy levels?

You make find some of these tips useful to stay energized through the day.



When you wake up in the morning, take 10 slow & deep breathes in through your nose and out through your mouth.


Don’t hop out of bed in a rush – take your time and roll over onto your side, bring your knees up to your chest, let your feet roll over the side of the bed and then have a good stretch!


As a nation we tend to shower in very hot water… if you can bare to do this – you will feel so energized for the rest of the day – turn the shower slowly to cool… have 30 seconds at the end of your shower in cold water – you will get out of the shower feeling fantastic! Try it! TOP


Breakfast like a King and do not rush it. We naturally recommend fruit, low sugar cereal, home made smoothies and non caffeine drinks…!


Try and get some exercise on your way to work – walk, cycle, run... Not possible for all of us, but if you have to drive, park your car at the other side of the office car park and walk those few extra steps to get the heart going.


For those of you seated at a desk all day, common complaints are stiffness in the neck and shoulders and lower back from looking at a pc. Try and give yourself regular short breaks. Simple things you can do whilst on the phone or on the pc:·

* Neck stretches – lifting your right arm up over your head placing on your left ear, let your head fall to right side whilst applying a little pressure to create lovely stretch along left side of neck – repeat on other side· Head rotations – let head drop to front and rotate to left and to the right. Life head backwards and rotate left & right as well. Do not roll in full circle.
* Shoulder lifts and rolls – lifting your shoulders and rotate clockwise & anticlockwise
* Ankle rotations – move feet & ankles in clockwise & anticlockwise movements.
* For people who suffer stiffness and pain in the lower back, find a surface that is level with your hips (kitchen counter, water cooler, photocopier!), stand up and lean forward with arms stretched out over surface, let your head drop. Breath in and as you breath out let your head drop a little further into this stretch. Or find somewhere you can kneel down, have knees hip width apart and put your forehead on the floor and arms along your side. Again as you breath in, let your body fall into the stretch further. We call this child pose in yoga and it is a wonderfully relaxing pose but really helps stretch out stiffness in the lower back.
* Lastly, for those of us who do sit at a desk all day, and struggle to make it to the gym on a regular basis, you may start to loose strength in the abdominal area. A simple challenge to introduce throughout the day, is pull your tummy in and hold for 10, then 20 and then 30 seconds at a time. I do this whilst sitting on hold, or waiting for someone to answer the phone.
* Taking this one step further you can work on your pelvic floor area - simply pretend you are pulling up the zip on your jeans… I will leave that to your imagination!


By 11am most people are clock watching and hungry, but it’s not time for lunch yet… so have some pick-me-up snacks in your desk draw – our recommendations – a banana or some dried fruit, handful of nuts or pumpkin seeds.


If you get tired and lethargic after lunch, you need to try food combining… what does this mean? Simply don’t mix your proteins and carbohydrates. It’s not the Aitkens Diet –we strongly recommend everyone eats Carbs, but just don’t mix them with proteins. After a day of following this routine you will feel amazing. And lastly – leave it an hour after any meal before you eat fruit. It messes with the digestive juices and can create an imbalance in your energy levels.


Try our 4pm slump energizer: Not only will it re-invigorate you but may even raise a smile or two in the office!

* Standing with feet hips width apart and your hands by your side, raise your arms up to shoulder height in front of you and take a short breath in through your nose
* Take them out to the sides, still shoulder height and take another short breath in through your nose
* Take both arms straight up above your head and take a last short breath in through your nose.
* Now bend your knees as you sweep your arms down and fold forward as you breathe out through your mouth with a long exhalation and making an aaaah sound – but this is optional in the office environment!
* This should be repeated between 10 and 20 times getting faster and faster or until co-ordination in lost!


Make sure you drink lots of water throughout the day, try to avoid caffeine; have 1 minute of focused breathing every hour and make sure you get some fresh air throughout the day.

Lastly, remember to smile every now and then – it warms up the face muscles and without noticing you will feel happier!

Elaine Hanzak