UTC Transmits – Ageing Seminar

On Wednesday afternoon around 200 Life Sciences UTC students attended Edge Hill University to listen to a number of talks from professionals within the healthcare sector.

The 7 speakers who attended the event spoke around the topic of ageing, touching on different aspects and focussing on the area they specialise in.

The afternoon kicked off with a talk by Dr Brenda Gannon, a reader in Health Economics from the University of Manchester. She spoke about health economics and the range of factors that are taken into account including the cost of illness compared to the cost of the study.

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The next speaker was Natalie Markham, a Divisional Manager (Joint Commissioning Older People Services) for Liverpool City Council. Natalie gave the students an understanding of the types of work she carried out. Summarising her role she explains it as going out and seeing what is needed, meeting that need and managing and evaluating the quality of it. She spoke about the recent initiatives including Healthy Liverpool Programme, Age Friendly City which Liverpool has recently signed up to and the Liverpool City Region devolution.

Shaun Lever, Specialist Dementia Nurse from Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust then spoke about dementia and the impact it has on everybody. Demonstrating the impact of dementia he started by getting the whole lecture theatre up on their feet and asked a series of questions including “Who has a family member that is currently suffering with dementia?” and “Who knows a friend or family member who has somebody in their family with dementia?”. By the end of the series of questions, there was only a few left standing which really brought to light just how much the illness effects all of us.

He spoke about the different types of dementia, and the different ages at which you can be affected by dementia – not just when you get old. He presented to the audience a fantastic dementia care package which he had created for patients when they are in hospital to ensure that they feel supported at all times. He also talked about the training and support for staff to help them to be made aware of the patient’s condition, without ‘labelling’ them.

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Another guest speaker from the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust was Jacqueline Dawson, Lead Nurse for Falls. Jacqueline spoke to the students about the number of patients who are admitted to hospital from a fall and patients who have falls in hospital. Figures pointed out that 240,000 falls happen every year in England and Wales, which is the equivalent to over 600 a day showing just how common a fall is.

Jacqueline explained what the team at the hospital do to prevent the risk of fall, including low profiling beds with crash mats if needed to reduce the risk of falling from heights, and slipper socks with grips on them for patients to walk around the ward freely.

Dr Gino Poulin, Lecturer in the Faculty of Life Sciences at University of Manchester spoke about the genetic programme of ageing and epigenetic inheritance. He explained how it goes against the idea that inheritance happens only through DNA, explaining that epigenetic tags can be passed down to future generations.

Dr Sajjad Ahmad, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Ocular Stem Cell Biology and Honorary Consultant Ophthalmologist at the University of Liverpool spoke about stem cell biology and showed how cells are damaged when you sustain an injury to your eye. He spoke to the students at how he has performed surgical procedures to fix this and how patients of his now have full eyesight again.

The afternoon was rounded off by Dr Aphrodite Vasilaki, Lecturer Musculoskeletal Biology, Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease at University of Liverpool. She gave the students an understanding of what happens to your muscles as you get older and demonstrated this through images of cross sections of muscles.

The event was a great opportunity to show the students the broad range of careers within health and science as well as helping students to understand a wide range of opinions on the topic of ageing. We would like to thank all of the speakers and Edge Hill University for hosting the event.

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