Archive for 2014

Cambridge Cognition

Dec 18, 2014

I’m delighted to let you know that I am now working with the fantastic team at Cambridge Cognition in bringing their touchscreen assessment software for detecting Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) to the Corporate Market.

As with any health risk, the earlier something is detected the better the chances of a positive outcome. This is particularly important for MCI because those people affected have a highly increased risk of eventually developing Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.

Cantab Mobile is more sensitive to mild cognitive impairment than any other cognitive assessment – click here to find out why.

It also differentiates between memory problems and mood disorders which is an area of significant mis-diagnosis.

The demographics of the workforce are changing. By 2020, people aged 50+ will represent 48% of the adult population and 32% of working age population (ONS).  For whatever reason whether it be the abolition of the default retirement age, personal economic necessity or filling shortfalls in workforce numbers, we are all working longer.

Employers are now beginning to realise that cognitive impairment is one of the biggest health risks that needs to be addressed. With over 30 years of optimising mental health through research, treatment and diagnosis, Cambridge Cognition have what it takes to help.

More to follow soon.




Diagnosing Dementia – The people who are so wrong

Oct 23, 2014

The government’s plan to pay GPs £55 for every dementia diagnosis they make has really provoked a big reaction.

The BBC website even closed down the chance to comment by mid-afternoon on the day the story went live after 1,160 comments. (Continue reading …)

Hope and Help for Dementia

Aug 02, 2014

Currently there is no cure for dementia but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any hope for any of us if diagnosed with the disease.

Until my involvement with Re:Cognition Health I had no idea of the benefit of clinical trials for the treatment of Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

If I recommended to you that you or someone close to you with a diagnosis should enrol on a clinical trial, I’m sure some of you would automatically think of men in white coats walking around a soulless laboratory.

What I’ve discovered is that the reality could not be any more different than this popular misconception.

By getting on a trial, people get a fantastic level of FREE health care support and a sense of community not available anywhere else either privately or on the NHS. Private Medical Insurance does not provide any cover either.

But it’s not just the care that makes it so worthwhile. It’s the opportunity to access new treatments years before they are available through your GP.  When you bear in mind that treatments currently only tend to be effective in the early stages of a dementia, then for many, any delay will have a seriously negative impact on potential outcomes.

On speaking to people already enrolled in trials, many have stressed that whilst they are obviously keen to help themselves, they also see what they are doing as a contribution to make a real difference to someone else’s future by helping to find a cure.

Re:Cognition Health is an International clinical trials site participating in a growing number of trials that could really benefit anyone with a diagnosis.

If you want to find out more contact me directly or email

Awareness of these trials is so poor.  If I’d known about them a couple of years ago then I would have encouraged someone close to me to enrol when they still had the chance.

Re:Cognition Health

Jul 04, 2014

I’m now working with this  proposition that specialises in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and care management of all the different types of cognitive impairment – the medical term for problems with any aspect of thinking ability.

It can affect any generation whether it is autism and ADHD in children; stress and anxiety at work; brain injury and stroke; memory problems; Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Re:Cognition Health take a truly collaborative approach in an area that isn’t known for joined up service delivery.

Their cognitive neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, specialist nurses and radiologists work together to focus on the individual and those closest to them.

I recently undertook the My Healthy Brain Assessment  and now have a full understanding of my cognitive abilities, and risks for the future. We spend a great deal of time looking after the physical side of our health and whilst this is very important, I’ve come to the conclusion that the quality of life is actually based on ‘what’s between your ears’.

We need much more education and awareness around cognitive issues and how they affect our lives.



May 07, 2014

What do you think of when you see or hear this word?

In a recent YouGov survey, the fear of getting dementia was greater for most people and their families than the fear of getting cancer.

Like cancer used to be until relatively recently, for many of us, dementia is a taboo subject. This is beginning to change as the public are made aware of the huge number of people affected and the impact it has on them, those close to them and the rest of society.

With the abolition of the default retirement age and the economic necessity of people working further into their old age, the progressive nature of dementia and the whole spectrum of cognitive impairment are fast becoming  major risks to employers and their employees.

It’s not just about those employees diagnosed as shown in this piece from the BBC  which covers the Dementia Friends  initiative.

It’s also about the affect it has on employees who need to care for someone with the condition.  With state provision of care limited as it is, the number of carers in the workforce is only going to rise.

As a progressive disease, so often the responses to dementia only come at crisis point on late diagnosis.   What would really help the situation is if we all understood our dementia risk much earlier and monitored possible symptoms. This would enable us and those with a caring responsibility for us to plan ahead effectively.

I believe employers can play a major role in bringing this about and ensuring a much greater level of understanding. It really is in their own interests to do so.

Misguided, Misquoted or Misunderstood?

Mar 10, 2014

Dame Carol Black has caused quite a stir with her reported suggestion that there should be a national debate on whether those in employment should be prioritised for NHS treatment.

Click here for the article.  She is also coming in for some vitriolic responses to her suggestion elsewhere in the media.  What might have started life as an off the cuff remark with perceived academic/philosophical merit has quickly been turned into a very hot ethical potato.

If employers were given every possible encouragement and assistance to fund health services privately, would there be a need for such a contentious debate?

They should be given full tax relief (not just an arbitrary £500 cap) on every aspect of private health including self funded clinical interventions, all occupational health services and all types of private health insurances whether an employee’s medical condition is work related or not.

Absolutely Brilliant

Feb 27, 2014

I’m really surprised that the latest ONS statistics on absence have not produced a more positive response in most of the media. Absence has reduced by 40% over the last 20 years.  For full details click here

Establishing who or what is directly responsible for this improvement is not easy. However the massive rise of employee health and wellbeing up corporate, government and service provider agendas is surely the major influencing factor.  Amongst so many other positive developments, we now have:

• Better thinking around the sourcing and implementation of health related services

• Improved delivery and co-ordination of services

• Greater understanding of the benefits of empathetic occupational health and absence management

• Growing number of dedicated wellbeing roles in both private and public sector

• Wide range of case studies and awards helping to establish best practice

• Specific state funded programmes

Whilst there is always room for improvement – the issue for me is why there has been very little change in the last two years and what has halted the momentum – we should take some time to acknowledge the efforts of so many involved in making a difference.

So I’d like to take time out to acknowledge the work at London Overground Rail Operations Limited (LOROL) as reported here 

This is an organisation that has secured full union backing for their new approach to managing absence.  You can read more in the article but what really grabbed my attention was this scenario:

“We had one employee who was off with chronic toothache. Within two hours we managed to get him an appointment with a private dentist. Results like that show everyone how committed we are to wellbeing,” 

The team at LOROL intervened to help an employee in distress and also cut down on absence costs. Can you imagine this happening in this organisation a few years ago? Absolutely brilliant.


HWS – Unintended Consequences

Feb 18, 2014

As we wait on the DWP for more details on the new Heath and Work Service, a tax specialist at Baker Tilly has outlined the threat posed to small businesses now that they will be unable to reclaim statutory sick pay.

For some of the smallest this will be catastrophic and may lead to closure.”

This article from the Telegraph explains the rationale.  It would be good to know the DWP’s view on such a possibility.


Oh dear, Oh dear…

Feb 10, 2014

The launch of the new Health and Work Service as announced through the national media doesn’t seem to have been received well by the general public if the comments on the BBC website are anything to go by. Click here

Even readers of The Telegraph are very dismissive. Click here

The biggest issue seems to be people associating it with the Atos contract for assessing disability.  The potential benefits are lost in a sea of  Atos loathing and mistrust.  There is also a surprising but  clear lack of understanding as to how Occupational Health works – whose fault is that?

I have no idea which private company will win the tender to supply the service but wonder just how many people will voluntarily accept being referred to Atos if it wins the contract.   The government’s PR job on this is big enough already and it hasn’t got off to a great start.


‘Britain’s Healthiest Company’

Jan 15, 2014

‘Britain’s Healthiest Company’   (BHC) was launched in 2013 by PruHealth and Mercer with the support of The Sunday Telegraph.  Registration for the 2014 programme and awards is now open.

The offer from BHC to those companies taking part is as follows:

‘Each participating company will receive a confidential Corporate Health Report, which will provide you with a holistic view of your employees’ wellbeing, as well as unique benchmarking information that can be used to inform future HR and People strategies. ‘

It costs nothing to take part.

If you are considering entering your own company, also have a look at the relevant background on the RAND Europe website which states:

‘PruHealth has commissioned RAND Europe, in partnership with the University of Cambridge, to provide research support BHC between 2014 and 2017. RAND Europe’s work includes designing and running the surveys, analysing results, and providing customised reports to participating companies.

Over time, PruHealth aims to develop a market for PruHealth products in this space but at present it is cautious about marketing to BHC participants directly.’

So, participating companies’ information will be used by PruHealth to help shape their own proposition.  Is this any surprise and is there anything wrong in that?