Men’s health and Parkinson’s in the Gateshead community

As the demand for more later-life care increases across all areas of the UK, Gateshead Health is preparing to support more people with Parkinson’s by employing a specialist Speech and Language Therapist.

Parkinson’s is a complex and progressive neurological condition that affects people of all races and cultures. While the exact cause of Parkinson’s remains unknown, we do know that it can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life.

Did you know that most people who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s are over the age of 60? However, it’s important to note that one in ten people with Parkinson’s are under the age of 50. Additionally, slightly more men than women are affected by Parkinson’s.

Let’s take a closer look at Gateshead. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the population of Gateshead from a 2021 census is around 196,100 people. Recent estimates suggest that the population is ageing, with a 14.1% increase in those aged 65-74 and a 14.5% increase in those aged 75+ between 2010 and 2020.

Looking to the future, population projections from the Office for National Statistics indicate that Gateshead’s ageing population trend will continue, becoming even more pronounced as life expectancy increases. We need to be aware of these trends and their potential impact on our community, including the increased risk of Parkinson’s.

The addition of a specialist Speech and Language Therapist will provide a new rapid-response service to people with Parkinson’s. This has been funded for two years by the Parkinson’s Excellence Network through their successful funding approach.

The Excellence Network is a dedicated network transforming health and care services for people with Parkinson’s across the UK, supported, funded and facilitated by the charity Parkinson’s UK. The Excellence Network, with funds from Parkinson’s UK, offers funds to specialist Parkinson’s nurse and allied health professional specialist posts across the UK. This includes any member of a multidisciplinary team that is dedicated to supporting people with Parkinson’s, such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and mental health professionals.

You can find out more about the Excellence Network on the Parkinson’s UK’s website.

Sarah Fraser - Speech and Language Therapist
Sarah Fraser – Speech and Language Therapist working with a Parkinson’s patient

Alison Eden, Clinical Lead of the Adult Speech and Language Service, said:

Our new program to provide a safe, flexible, and responsive service to Parkinson’s patients in both hospital and community settings throughout Gateshead is a game-changer. This initiative, launched at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, is a crucial step towards enhancing the quality of life of our Parkinson’s patients. We are excited about the potential of this program to make a significant impact and are thrilled to see such promising progress.

Alison Eden, Clinical Lead of the Adult Speech and Language Service

The additional specialist Speech and Language Therapist post will respond to urgent referrals for patients experiencing swallowing difficulties upon admission to the hospital and within five working days for those received from the community, e.g., GPs and community nurses. The additional specialist Speech and Language Therapist will ensure people receive timely advice and education to manage any difficulties they face safely.

Parkinson’s is a neurological disorder that affects movement.

In the 1960s, researchers discovered dopamine’s role in Parkinson’s, which led to the development of medications that could improve symptoms by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Despite being a significant health concern with millions affected worldwide, advances in research and treatment have significantly improved the outlook for those living with Parkinson’s.

The proactive approach adopted by Gateshead Health, supported by community-driven initiatives and dedicated funding, represents a beacon of hope amidst the complexities of Parkinson’s. As we continue to unravel the mysteries of this condition, this commitment to proactive care and support signifies a promising future for those living with Parkinson’s in the Gateshead region.