Sunday, 27 April 2014

Brno, Innovations and Illustrations, Water and other Areas of Risk

Whilst it was great having last Monday off, it did mean the rest of the week felt more packed than usual. That I was in Brno (in the Czech Republic) on Friday didn't help. I was there to present 2 papers to the National Oncology Conference. I had been invited to speak on compassion and nursing care and on managing the tensions often involved in providing person centred care to patients at the end of their life. It was a very interesting conference, and in an age of Twitter, there was great audience in the hall participation. It also felt good to be able once again to spend time with colleagues I have known for a number of years, but seldom get to see in person.

I also felt good about my outcome in the innovation survey I took part in last week. This was a survey that the Nesta  organisation are undertaking  to ascertain the UKs views on innovation. Nesta is an innovation charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. The first phase of the survey tested people’s attitudes to innovation, technology and progress. They found people could be grouped into 5 attitudinal groups. Innovation Futurists, Romantics, Creatives, Realist and Sceptics.

Back came the result that I am an Innovation Creative – which apparently means I am confident, sociable, on-trend, and interested in new ideas that use creativity to solve practical problems. I'm an early adopter of new technology and ideas and I'm likely to recommend new products to my peers. However, I can sometimes struggle to bring innovation together as a single concept and it appears I tend to think about innovation in the context of my own hobbies. Innovation Creatives represent 19% of the UK population – so there you are, and you can check out which group you belong to here.  

The most stunning, and thought provoking image for me last week was the one published on Twitter to show what one year of twice a day insulin injections would look like. Many people with type 1 diabetes are on 4 or 5 injections a day. No more words necessary.

I was also reminded last week of another daily intake requirement – water. I have never really been a fan of drinking water just as water (although don’t mind it in a good malt). The World Health Organisation estimates that we need 2 litres of clean water a day. Apparently this is to replace the litre we pee and the litre we lose through sweat and breathing out. I am assured that tap water is as good for you as bottled water, and much better for the planet – see here if you are not convinced. Thankfully we don’t need to guzzle our 2 litres in pure water, most food has a lot of water in it, fruit and fish 80-90% water and for those who like meat, most meat contains a staggering 30% of water.

However, drinking excess water won't harm you (well unless you are drowning that is), but perhaps where you live might. Last week Imperial College published the so called Health Atlas. This is an online map of England and Wales (does Imperial already know the outcome of the Scottish vote?) which allows you and I to enter our postcode and find out what the risk is for those living in our community of developing 14 conditions such as heart disease and a range of cancers.

As one would expect, such developments coming on the back of pensioners being given advice on how long they might live (see here) the Health Atlas has attracted a great deal of comment. My favourite comes from the fabulously and alliteratively named Professor Paul Pharoah, working in the University of Cambridge Department of Oncology (but he wasn't in Brno) who said, ‘this atlas doesn't enable anyone to judge their individual absolute risk, and people should definitely not use this atlas to decide where to live’ Priceless Professor Paul Pharoah.

The saddest story of the week was hearing of the deer that wandered onto the M61 between Junction 6 and 5 – close to where the House in Bolton is located. The deer was hit by a car and had to be put down. I hope it wasn't the same one who earlier on in the week was tucking into my next door neighbours spring flowers. Perhaps Imperial College could put a special page in the Health Atlas just for visiting deer.