Wednesday, 22 December 2010

An outstanding hotel!

I know I always post a blog related to postnatal issues but just for once indulge me in this one!!

I am a firm believer in giving credit where it is due and to this end I would like to share my experience at the Salthouse Harbour Hotel   in Ipswich.
A couple of years ago I was invited to speak at a Mental Health Carer’s event in the town and stayed at Salthouse Harbour Hotel  for the first time.
Since then I have stayed in many other hotels across the world and still have never found anywhere that compares. One of my former colleagues used to say ‘never go back’ to somewhere that you had really enjoyed as it often fails to live up to your first wonderful time. Sadly this can often be the case.

Then as luck would have it I got the chance to return to Salthouse Harbour Hotel last week. Clive, my partner had been booked to speak to a client in Ipswich and as he was still unable to drive following knee surgery, I was required as chauffeur. To say I was delighted to be told we were staying at SHH was an understatement!

I wrote to the hotel and told them how pleased and I was and on arrival our reservation had ‘complementary upgrade’ written at the top. Whether or not this was due to my email I do not know, but either way we were pleased! Such as gesture is always appreciated. Likewise the warm and smiling reception we received when we walked in. On arrival I had been indecisive on where to park so we parked outside the hotel, not sure if we actually could or not.  When the porter pointed out that we would have to move he simply told me ‘No problem – I’ll move it to the car park for you’.  I got my keys back later with a neat key ring with our room number on it. Small touches – big difference.

Salthouse Harbour Hotel is a converted warehouse on the marina at Ipswich (yes it does have one!). Our room directly overlooked the yachts, boats and water from the large windows. The room itself was spacious with a huge bed but the ‘piece de resistance’ was the copper bath in front of the windows! Wow! 

The room was furnished with the best of linen, artwork, ornaments, and a stunning combination of traditional, new and quirky. A hotel room with character! That is rare!
The flat screen TV, Bose music system and even lovely chunky mugs and cafeteriere on the tray were all touches of luxury. Likewise one of the tables in the cosy seating area had some books on it. The overall feeling is one of TRUST. Even the hairdryer, which in most hotels is so often fastened to a wall by a chain big enough to restrain a guard dog yet so short that you are required to squat to use it, wasn’t fastened to anything. How many places have you stayed in where it seems everything is tied down? There were EIGHT, yes, eight pillows and the quality of the towels, toiletries gave the whole room an air of abundance that is usually completely missing in hotels. The trust and abundance builds mutual respect and relaxation. To top it off Clive announced that the wi-fi was also free and instantly connected with no messing about which for business people today is an absolute god send.

Other bits of an abundant policy was that if you left your shoes out in the corridor the night porter would clean them for you – and he did, beautifully! No doubt that task helps fill his small, wee hours but gives him a purpose too. You could order a full breakfast in your room and have the restaurant menu as room service AT NO EXTRA CHARGE! Fantastic!
Of course I had to use the bath! I have never before immersed myself in such luxury and was even able to watch television from it!

Dinner was of a high standard and served in the restaurant which is also filled with quirky and interesting ornaments including two pot zebras in a bird cage! There is something to look at every angle in this hotel. Even by the lift is a huge suit of armour – wearing pearls and necklaces! I remembered that the room I stayed in on my first stay had a stunning hand carved bedstead, so I am assuming that each room has its own quirks.
The bed was one of those you sink into and the goose down duvet and afore mentioned sumptuous pillows made it a very difficult bed to get out of.

The bathroom added to the feeling of luxury with a huge walk in shower with the biggest shower head I have ever seen plus and small spray. I could have stayed in for hours! The grey slate floor was so warm to walk on. Even the toilet seat had the gentle, no rush, take your time closure on it! The toilet paper and tissues were also lovely and thick unlike the wafer thin stuff you normally have to put up with. 
We went down for breakfast and explained that Clive had to go but that, once I had dropped him off, I would be back– our request for me to return later was greeted with the same positive reaction that all our requests had been met with. I took Clive to ‘work’ and I returned to a leisurely breakfast. I had decided to use the morning to write my Christmas cards but check-out was at 11 a.m. I asked if I could have an extra hour in the room and was offered three! At no charge of course! Yet another Wow!
When I checked out I explained I wanted to go into town to shop and was instantly handed a map, advised where the best places were and also told I was welcome to leave my car in their car park as it would be just as easy for me and, you’ve guessed it, NO CHARGE!
With an extremely contented but sad heart I left Salthouse Harbour Hotel . I want to go back!!!

We could not help contrast this experience with another hotel we stayed in at the previous weekend with the same 4* rating yet in a different league.
As professional speakers Clive and I are privileged to stay in many, many hotels, most are adequate but rarely do we come across two such extremes. This is the first time we have felt the need to feedback on what could have been a pleasant experience if only someone had bothered to give a damn about customer care.

* On arrival the 'doorman' greeted us with growls and complaints about waiting for someone “for the last 20 minutes”. Not exactly the smiling first impression we expected.
* The long walk to the room was through endless doorways, and in particular one doorway to an outside corridor didn't even have a handle on it and the bracket was hanging off the top.
* On first glance our executive room looked nice, but once in the bathroom the shaving mirror was hanging off the wall.
*The water from the shower was lukewarm to cold and the thermometer control fell off!
* Once out of the cold shower (I had closed the door) I was faced with a flood as it had leaked. I had to use the towels to mop up for the sake of safety.
* On going down to the event we mentioned our problems to the over-worked receptionist who took a note of our room number and request for clean towels and extra pillows. When we returned to our room four hours later neither aspect had been attended to.
* The food at the event was good for 'mass catering' and served swiftly and efficiently.
* The sound system in the event room was dreadful - muffled and then too loud.
*Breakfast in the room was an extra £10 ‘Tray change’!

The hotel has an air that there are plenty of staff but smiles generally are very thin on the ground which does not encourage you to return. When basics of customer care and service are grossly ignored recommendation is impossible.

This second hotel would do well to take a leaf out of Salthouse Harbour Hotel’s book! Care, trust, abundance and attention to the small details can make an ordinary stay into a magnificent one.
We have no hesitation in nominating Salthouse Harbour Hotel for a Customer Service Award. 
Somehow the other hotel is not yet ready for this!

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 13 December 2010

Feeling stressed? Look at International Stress Management Association

I am grateful to my special friend Dinah for telling me about this site - International Stress Management Association

ISMA  promote sound knowledge and best practice in the prevention and reduction of human stress, ISMAUK is the leading professional body representing a multi-disciplinary professional health and well-being membership in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. has some useful information, downloads and links.

I must say that I do believe that some 'stress' is actually beneficial. I often get what some may describe as 'stressed' before I speak to audiences - my tummy may be fluttering, I can feel my heart racing, etc. but I now understand that it is my body getting ready to be able to maximise my performance! I heard this recently about an American baseball player who throughout his excellent career used to be violently sick before each game. Just before his retirement this didn't happen and his performance was dreadful. He had become blase. He recognised that the sickness actually improved his game and to embrace it - the last few games he was sick again and played amazingly!

I am not suggesting that we should be violently sick in order to achieve but what I am saying is that recognise that sometimes 'stress' can be a positive force and not always negative. It is how we use it that is important.

My regular followers may have noticed my posts have 'gone quiet' these last few weeks. I am actually being a 'carer' for once! My partner Clive had a knee replacement operation 3 weeks ago and I have been looking after him and enjoying every minute!  I am currently driving him around so he can speak to his audiences. .

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 3 December 2010

Fears remain despite improvement in maternity services

Have a read of the report at

It tells that
Maternity services are gradually improving, but there are still some areas of concern, according to a survey of women.
The Care Quality Commission poll of over 25,000 found that 92% felt their care was excellent or good.
The poll also showed there was a lack of support over feeding, information on leaving hospitals and advice about how to get support for emotional problems.

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said the overall picture was "encouraging", but she urged NHS trusts to look at the areas they needed to improve.
The overall improvement has happened at a time when there is more pressure being put on maternity services.
The number of births has risen by a fifth in England over the last eight years to 670,000 a year.
The Royal College of Midwives believes another 3,000 midwives are needed to help the NHS cope, although the government rejects this because latest projections suggest the rise in births will tail off in the next few years.
Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents, said while for most women giving birth was a happy experience, he was still concerned about the problems that had been identified.
He said the issues highlighted were "perfectly avoidable" and called for an increase in the number of midwives.
He added: "This report should be used as a springboard to tackle problems in one of the most important services the NHS provides."

Let's hope someone takes notice or we shall have more problems and avoidable deaths if not...

Elaine Hanzak

Patients Association Helpline - spread the word!

You may have seen in the press today the Patient's Association story of some appalling examples of care that the NHS delivers  ( )  

As someone who speaks to health professionals this deeply concerns me. Many of these people are unable to get any assistance to look at their case.  As a tribute to the wonderful Claire Raynor the Patients Association have launched an appeal to support its totally independent helpline.  If anyone can help with a donation or spread the link it would be appreciated.

I must also say though that my partner Clive Gott  has received nothing but excellent care from the NHS for his knee replacement last week.  

We just need to fight to ensure that people get the care he received and not the others listed.
Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

New reports and findings on postnatal depression

Thank you to The Child and Maternal Health Observatory  for these postings:-

Treatments for postnatal depression assessed
News release from NETSCC, HTA    06 October 2010
Giving postnatal women antidepressants early in the course of the illness is likely to result in the greatest improvement in symptoms. This is according to new research funded by the National Institute for Health Research, Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme.

Postnatal depression is a substantial public health problem affecting around 10 per cent of new mothers. It can lead to long-term serious consequences for mother, baby, family, friends and colleagues. Despite its frequency and potential long-term consequences, only about 50 per cent of cases of postnatal depression are detected by health professionals. However, like other forms of depression, if detected, postnatal depression is easily treatable.

The team, led by Professor Deborah Sharp from the University of Bristol, compared the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of antidepressant drug therapy with a community-based psychosocial intervention. A total of 254 women were recruited from 77 general practices in England to receive either an antidepressant prescribed by their GP or counselling (listening visits) from a specially trained research health visitor (HV).

The results show that in the population studied where the prevalence of postnatal depression was just under 10 per cent, antidepressants were significantly superior to general supportive care at four weeks. There was a lack of evidence for a significant difference between antidepressant therapy and listening visits at 18 weeks as the trial design allowed women to switch groups, or add the alternative intervention at any time after four weeks.

“Although many women - at least initially, revealed a preference for listening visits, it would appear that starting women on antidepressants early in the course of illness is likely to result in the greatest improvement in symptoms”, says Professor Sharp. “There is an urgent need for GPs and HVs to agree the care pathway for women who suffer from postnatal depression, not only for the benefit of the mother, but also the child”.

Depression, like many illnesses, can be treated while breastfeeding without harming the baby. Breastfeeding women should speak to their midwife, health visitor or GP to find a suitable treatment. To view full details about this project visit: 

I FULLY agree with Professor Sharp's statement -  “There is an urgent need for GPs and HVs to agree the care pathway for women who suffer from postnatal depression, not only for the benefit of the mother, but also the child”.

Also look at

Children's Services Mapping: Perinatal mental health and infant mental health services
With recognition of the need to improve perinatal mental health services, questions were added to the 2009/10 Children’s Services Mapping (CSM) exercise to establish a baseline of service provision in England. The findings from the this mapping exercise are available - the data tables, full report and a national summary report can be viewed or downloaded from the CSM website.

Clinical Report—Incorporating Recognition and Management of Perinatal and Postpartum Depression Into Pediatric Practice

Every year, more than 400 000 infants are born to mothers who are depressed, which makes perinatal depression the most underdiagnosed obstetric complication in America. Postpartum depression leads to increased costs of medical care, inappropriate medical care, child abuse and neglect, discontinuation of breastfeeding, and family dysfunction and adversely affects early brain development.

Long-term effects of a home-visiting intervention for depressed mothers and their infants Background: Whereas preventive interventions for depressed mothers and their infants have yielded positive short-term outcomes, few studies have examined their long-term effectiveness. The present follow-up of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) is one of the first to examine the longer-term effects of an intervention for mothers with postpartum depression and their infants at school-age. In early infancy, the intervention was found effective in improving mother–infant interaction and the child’s attachment to its mother.

Helping children sleep
Sleep problems in children are very common and affect both the child and parents. This review summarises current non-pharmacological practices and intervention options to aid healthy children sleep. Identifying and managing sleep problems in childhood may improve health, including emotional well-being, in adolescence and adulthood.

Incidence of maternal and paternal depression in primary care
: a cohort study using a primary care database
The aim of the study was to examine incidence, trends, and correlates of parental depression in primary care from 0 to 12 years of child age. They found that overall incidences of depression from the birth of the child up to age 12 years were 7.53 per 100 person-years for mothers and 2.69 per 100 person-years for fathers.

The role of midwives in facilitating recovery in postpartum psychosis

Postpartum psychosis can result in an increased risk of suicide and infanticide and the symptoms can be frightening for the women who are affected as well as for their families and obstetric care providers. The women are often thrust into a mental health system that does not capitalize on the close relational bond that forms between midwives and those they care for over the course of prenatal care. The purpose of this article is to propose using the Recovery Advisory Group Model of mental illness as a theoretical framework for care of women with postpartum psychosis, to assist midwives in recognizing symptoms, define the role of the midwife in treatment, and learn the importance of becoming part of the psychiatric mental health care team in order to facilitate optimum recovery.

Elaine Hanzak