2020 in review

2020 in review

January 2020

For many of us 2020 started as most new years do, with a sense of a fresh start, renewed optimism and good intentions to improve our health and wellbeing. Despite the odd report about a new virus being found in China nothing could have prepared us for the changes that this year would bring to our lives.

At PYB Health our aim is to keep our community updated and informed of health-related issues. As with most years January is the prime cold and flu season and our article “10 ways to reduce your chances of catching colds and flu” included several nuggets of advice that we have heard on repeat since March. “Wash hands regularly”, “Don’t touch your face” & “Avoid crowds if you can”.

January is also a very gloomy difficult month for many people, particularly those already struggling with mental health issues. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) symptoms are more apparent during the shorter days of winter and can result in a persistent low mood, a loss of interest in activities, irritability, feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness, lacking in energy, sleeping in the day or for longer than normal and finding it difficult to get up in the morning, weight gain and craving carbohydrates. In our article about the January Blues a lot of the advice has been applicable throughout the year in coping with the lockdown blues that have followed such as regular physical activity, eating a healthy balanced diet, talking with friends and family. The one piece of advice however that on hindsight was totally irrelevant was to “plan something for later in the year to look forward to.” If this year has taught us anything it is to live and enjoy the moment because the future is unpredictable.

FebRuary 2020

In February we shared the story of how a local lady overcame loneliness in Bridgend.

Life is unpredictable. Everything can be going along fine and then, when you least expect it, a series of distressing events in close succession can send you into depression and loneliness. Read Sharon’s story and find out how with the help of local resources she picked herself back up and made positive changes to get her life back on track.

The events of 2020 have certainly been unpredictable! Whatever circumstances you find yourself in now there is always hope.

March 2020

As we headed into March we were all becoming more aware of Covid-19. At PYB Health we started to share public health information as it became available. We started with this article which was added to several times before we soon realised that Coronavirus was the only topic everyone was talking about.

By 11th March Wales had its first case of “community transmission”, when a patient in Caerphilly with no travel history tests positive for COVID-19.

By 13th March our surgeries had made changes to the way we operate in order to keep our staff and patients safe – we began operating a telephone triage model of care and put one way systems and hand sanitisers in place.

What was social distancing? & how could we protect our mental health under these strange circumstances?

On 23rd March the UK death toll hit 335 deaths with 16 in Wales, Boris Johnson announced a nationwide ‘Stay at Home‘ order would come into effect as of this become the start of the UK lockdown.

April 2020

With the feeling of helplessness during the situation we all found ourselves in, came the desire to help others. The sense of community had never been stronger as we protected the vulnerable, helped neighbours with shopping, collected prescriptions for family members and looked out for those that may need safeguarding from neglect and abuse

Every Thursday at 8pm the nation came together by standing on doorsteps and clapped for the NHS to show appreciation for the care givers that selflessly worked throughout the lockdown

May 2020

The weather was the one thing on our side during lockdown and as we all got used to spending more time at home and getting outside for some daily exercise many people turned to nature and gardening to fill their time. With two Bank holidays in May, DIY home improvements were also on the to do list. At PYB Health our advice during May to help protect our community from accidents and unnecessary trips to an already overloaded A&E we produced some simple stay safe guides.

8 Simple Steps to DIY Safety

Garden Safety for Lockdown

Our feel good article in May shared the story of our PYB local health hero, Sara, who had spent lockdown raising funds to help the NHS keyworkers – Read Sara’s story here.

June 2020

At the start of June the restrictions were relaxed allowing members of two households to meet up outdoors. At PYB Health we launched our new eConsult service to allow patients to contact their GP online. The service allows you to request sick notes and test results without the need for an appointment saving yourself and your practice time & in the light of the changes this year has given many patients the security of a consultation without the need for a face to face meeting. If you have not used our eConcsult service you can find out more here or watch our video.

July 2020

As we went into the summer months and the relaxing of the rules we were aware that many people, especially those that had been shielding were anxious about leaving the house. The more we interacted the more the risk increased of becoming ill with the virus or passing infection on to loved ones, this was and still is a very real fear and it is an entirely normal response to be worried, but risk can be reduced by following the guidelines. We shared our top tips to help with the anxiety

As we emerged from the lockdown it became apparent that life was not going to just return to normal. The introduction of compulsory face masks was another new rule that we all had to get used to. It felt weird and looked weird but was another precaution we needed to take to continue to protect those around us.

August 2020

Throughout July the number of cases were dropping and by August pubs, cinemas, swimming pools and leisure centres were all allowed to open. Schools were preparing to go back in September which although good news brought with it a lot of anxiety for teachers, parents and children. We encouraged you to pay attention to your child’s concern and worries and to talk to them about what they should expect when they returned in our “Getting back to school after lockdown” article & we encouraged you to look after your own mental health and to take things slow as we asked “are you ready for September?”

September 2020

At PYB Health, September saw the start of our flu vaccine campaign to encourage those over 65 and those that had been shielding to book flu vaccinations. We explained the importance of the flu vaccine this year and why the flu programme has been a strategic priority. As well as protecting those at risk from flu through the winter it will help to ensure that the opportunity for co-circulation of flu and COVID-19 is kept to a minimum. Although the Flu vaccine will not protect you directly from COVID-19 it will protect you from flu. The more people that have the flu vaccine the less pressure will be put on the NHS in dealing with both outbreaks this winter.

For a week or so things started to feel normal, we encouraged you to use this time to make new habits from the lessons learnt during lockdown and to break the bad habits in our article “12 Lockdown habits to make or break” but after a rising number of hospitalisations from Covid-19 throughout Wales by 22nd September Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent and Newport were placed back into lockdown.

October 2020

During October we were finally able to share the fantastic news that a new £10.7m health centre will be built as part of the Sunnyside Health and Wellness Village project. The wellness village will encompass general needs and supported housing as well as the healthcare centre and has been supported by funding of £18m from the Welsh Government.

The new healthcare centre, due to be built next spring, will become home to Bridgend Group Practice, as well as bringing together a range of community services promoting physical and mental health, including a wide range of therapy, mental health, sexual health, community dental and pharmacy services. The building will also allow space for multi-disciplinary teams and third sector organisations, facilitating a joint, partnership approach to providing health and wellbeing services. Read more.

At 6pm on Friday 23 October – Wales entered into a two week firebreak lockdown which replaced the local restrictions which were in force.

Movember 2020

This November we asked you to get behind and encourage four of our GPs from PYB Health as they took on the challenge of changing the face of men’s health.

Each of the team members taking part grew a moustache through November to help raise awareness of men’s health issues and to stop men dying too young. We were very happy to report that they raised over £1300!

December 2020

The beginning of December started well with the Pfizer vaccine approved in the UK with a second vaccine the Oxford-Astrazeneca approved on the 30th December. The vaccines will be rolled out over the next few months and will hopefully finally bring an end to restrictions for good! Here at PYB Health we will bringing you information as soon as we can about getting your vaccines. The start of 2021 may continue to be difficult with restrictions in place to help combat the latest new strains of the virus but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, things will get better and we can all now look forward to spending time with our loved ones in the not too distant future. Stay safe, stay strong and look after each other.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year from the PYB Health team.