Written evidence from Menopause Self Care (MSC) CIC [MEW0041]

                          SOME FACTS and FEATURES of the MENOPAUSAL YEARS (age 35 to 70):

How women handle the menopausal years affects government, the health service, business and all women and their families.  ‘The Change’ is a dynamic choice-point.   *How a woman navigates midlife has a major impact on her personal and her work life now and for the rest of her life.  

*Women may be more prone to heart disease than men due to job stress and the menopausal years can add to that stress with vasomotor symptoms affecting their quality of life. *Women are more stressed in the menopausal years than any other time of their lives with life stress and raising children and elder care as well as work responsibilities. Ill health and inflexible working are major barriers for women wanting and needing to work. 

*Lifestyle changes: nutrition, sleep and exercise offer proven benefits during the transitional years and in later life.

*Two-thirds of all women are symptomatic in the menopause.  The menopausal years encompass pre-menopause, perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause with the average age of ‘menopause’ (the cessation of menses for a year) being 51.  The most ‘intense’ phase: the perimenopause encompasses approximately three to ten years of changes. 

The menopausal years are signalled by cardiovascular changes.  Heart and vascular disease affects more women than cancer.  In Cornwall alone 12000 women suffer with heart disease.  Two thirds of women between the ages of 40 and 65 suffer from anxiety and musculoskeletal problems.  All of these are related to the midlife and interface with the menopausal years.

*Over the three to ten years of the perimenopause women can experience some of the following sensations: hot flushes, cold sweats, weight gain, rheumatic pains, cold hands and feet, breast tenderness, headaches, numbness and tingling, sensations of crawling skin, vaginal dryness; women can have pain with intercourse, urinary difficulties, feelings of suffocation, heart palpitations, dizzy spells, a feeling of pressure of tightness in head or body, fatigue, irritability and nervousness, musculoskeletal issues, depression, memory issues, sleeplessness, an inability to concentrate, crying spells, panic attacks, a new loss of interest in typical activities, tension, needless worry & low libido. 

*The Change alone affects a woman’s self-confidence and ability to work.  Misunderstandings about feelings we can experience as we age can fuel extra worry and anxiety & and a feeling of helplessness in a woman.

A 2019 research study from the independent Nuffield Health group discovered the following:

*approximately 13 million women in the UK are either peri or post menopausal

*symptoms can last up to 15 years

*over 60% of women experience symptoms resulting in behaviour changes

*1 in 4 women will experience severe debilitating symptoms

*almost half of menopausal women say they feel depressed

*a third of women say they suffer with anxiety

*women commonly feel as though they are going mad

*approximately two thirds of women in the UK say there is a general lack of support and understanding

This same Nuffield research found that 72% of women in work say they feel unsupported, with 9 out of 10 women reporting they feel unable to talk with managers at work.

Also, 1 in 5 women take time off to deal with menopausal symptoms and 1 in 50 are on long term sick leave.

*Workability and compassion for this time of life allows for women to find and stay in work and for employers to retain the value of their female staff and all gain from their wealth of work skills, expertise, perspective and dedication.

 

 

            Some FACTS and FEATURES of the ANDROPAUSE (what happens to men age 45+):

* Even less understood than the menopause, andropause is what happens to men as they age and free testosterone levels drop.  These changes can mean men experience some uncomfortable times. Men can gain weight, feel a loss of energy, have memory issues, mood changes, a loss of clarity and focus and also men can notice an overall decrease in their wellbeing.  They can feel they simply do not have their ‘mojo’.  These changes are more gradual in men and less dramatic but are still going on over a similar time period.

The more that men and women understand about these natural shifts and changes the better it is for the home and work environment and adjustments can be created to support each other. Information on the andropause in the menopause course is included.

 

 

                                                                   

 

 

 

We are an example of the kind of thing that can work in the employer setting.  To date, we have delivered our One Day Intensive course to over 1100 women in Cornwall.  In the last three years 300 public sector staff have rating our course a 3.6 out of 4 in independent surveys.  Out of 300 in person courses offered by Cornwall Council we were told in February 2020 that our course was one of the top 7 courses out of the 300 courses offered by learning and development.  I include our experience here as we are ONE of possibly other social enterprises and charities in the UK who are addressing this issue.  I can only write about our own experience.

                                          ABOUT THE MENOPAUSE SELF CARE PROGRAMME ©:

                                                         LOW COSTS with HIGH BENEFITS

The Menopause Self Care Learning Series© offers the first and only programme that directly addresses hormone related health and work challenges in the UK, enabling women to be in the workplace without being compromised by the challenges of ageing.  MSC proactively addresses some of the key gender, equality and ageing challenges for women in the workforce with the net benefit to the employer of gaining the dedication and skills of their mid-life and older staff…lowering costs and improving productivity for the employer, be they public or private sector.

We offer an unbiased, comprehensive, unique and innovative programme to help women put themselves in the centre of their own life at this very important time in their life.

Our approach minimises the negative debilitating effects of reduced health and wellbeing for women going through the most intense perimenopausal years – the three to ten year transition that are the most challenging of the menopausal years.

The Menopause Self Care Learning Series offers different formats for learning and includes accredited and non-accredited options to help women get into work and stay in work. 

MSC has piloted this programme in Cornwall to 1100 women from a range of socio-economic backgrounds in and out of the workplace.  Results are overwhelmingly consistently positive from the women who attend the one day intensive course. The demand for the content we deliver is increasing.  We represent the point of view of the woman herself. Women want to work and want to feel well.  We help them bridge into being able to speak with their GP to become the conversation.  When women are under stress – be it physical, mental, emotional – they can shift into ‘flight, fright or freeze’.  We find that women feel a lot of anxiety about asking for help with their GP and their managers and work colleagues.

It can be hardest to realise ourselves what is happening when our health changes.

Menopause Self Care started out eleven years ago working with public sector employers across Cornwall to tailor a program design and implementation that really ‘works’ for women and for the others in their lives:

Advertising of a MSC One Day Intensive in the Cornwall Council Intranet led to 150 women applying for a course of 10 places.  As a result, MSC was asked to provide 11 courses to Cornwall Council’s corporate staff in 2013.  Since 2011 MSC has taught over 1100 women in Cornwall.

Our clients included the NHS Treliske, the Isles of Scilly Council and Cornwall Council.  In the last five years we have offered courses across Cornwall for Cornwall Council, NHS Treliske, DWP Job Centre staff & clients and for women who work at home.  We have been asked to speak at an event in March 2020 for Falmouth Town Council and participated in a Menstruation Happens event in Penzance in the autumn of 2018.  We have partnered with Active Plus in Cornwall and in Somerset in offering conscious self-care courses to men and women to help support them into work.

All of our courses and programmes:

*offer an innovative point of view for women age 35+ through what is a private and ‘silent passage’ within our culture.

*help women understand the territory of ageing and learn how to access the resources and evidence-based research they need to discern and then create their own self-care plan with the advice of their GP and other health professionals

*offer a unique approach that sees women as ‘adventurers’ and the hormonal changes as creative ‘brain time’ which offers a chance for real growth as well as challenges

*develop self-awareness and self-care skills through decision-making tools in group and one to one coaching

*encourage pro-active, informed, life-giving choices and an understanding of how we age and what we can do about it’.

*help women support themselves in work and at home and amongst colleagues and at their GP through role-play.

           THE MENOPAUSE SELF CARE PROGRAM© BENEFITS EMPLOYERS and EMPLOYEES:

Employer and employees benefit as when the employer makes the programme and staff member time available it raises morale and shows the employer values and is prepared to make the investment enabling the staff to join the course during working hours.  Employers benefit by co-creating a culture of consciousness and skills development in healthy ageing from the individual’s point of view.   As each staff member understands better what is happening as they age and how ‘normal’ some of what they are experiencing the tension decreases and there is more understanding.  The benefits of lifestyle changes can enable women’s wellbeing and they can better communicate with each other and offer better service delivery. Women are better able to support themselves and ask for advice and support from their GP and stay in work.

Looking at the financial implications of sick days currently amongst menopausal aged staff (35+): one scenario of a staff member on one of the lowest pay scales (£13000 per annum) and an annual cost including on-costs of £17333 with a monthly rate of £1444 with a day rate per working day (assuming average of 20 working days per month) = £72.

A rough estimate of the cost of their one day absence to the employer (with replacement staff) is:

Temporary replacement staff at £9 per hour plus agency cost of £5 per hour for 8 hours = £112

Total cost of one day's sick day/absence for one employee: £72 + £112 = £184

In 2019, 2018, 2014 and 2013 and Cornwall Council managers and staff commented that they were grateful with the help in work that Cornwall Council offered through providing access to the MSC training to help them acquire the self-care skills to address their own health challenges and break the taboos around ageing that women face in work, especially in this time of austerity and budget cuts. There is high demand for this programme as it is directly meeting women's needs.

The self-care learning gained, and the self-care initiatives taken regarding workplace health and wellbeing of women and men impact the level of health they experience in the short term and as they age into their sixties and seventies and beyond. 

We know that the skills for self-care learning approach positively impacts a woman’s ability to work.

Women tell us they come to our course because they are worried about their own ‘survival’, literally.

How we live and what we choose in our forties and fifties directly impacts our quality of life for the rest of our life.  We are living longer…and we are working longer.  To do so successfully we need to create an environment of support within the workplace and within society for the second half of our lives. 

Women want and need to be able to be valued and helped to contribute their considerable skills and talents throughout their lives for the greater good: the use of conscious self-care skills are intrinsic to this happening.

 

September 2021