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NELFT NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of  community health and mental health services across the north east London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, Essex and Kent and Medway

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NELFT staff member appears on BBC One show How to Stay Young

A NELFT staff member, Patrick Luckie, appeared on the BBC One programme How to Stay Young in September. The show is presented by Angela Rippon and Dr Chris Van Tulleken and aims to show viewers what can be done to reverse the ageing process.

Patrick works for the Dementia Crisis Support Team and is a Support Time & Recovery Worker based at Brentwood Community Hospital. We spoke to Patrick to find out more about his experience of being on TV:

How did you feel when you were offered the chance to appear on How to Stay Young?

I was really excited when I first heard about the HTSY programme. I thought it was about people who think they are ‘young at heart’ or a good example of their age etc. I soon learned it was a more medical programme, based around a ‘body age’ versus our chronological one.

Even then, I planned to accept their offer of a full medical test, necessary to gauge my health status; secure in the knowledge I would be found to be healthy and unsuitable for the show! So when I was found to be a suitable candidate, based upon poor physical performance under stress, high cholesterol and bad dietary habits, I was shocked and very nervous about what was to come. Things went from being what I hoped would be just a bit of fun, with a great medical thrown in, to a worrying prospect, requiring a long and time consuming intervention.

This involved an overnight stay in Newcastle, to be tested by the Institute for Ageing, from Newcastle University, at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Newcastle. I had a full blood test, Bod-Pod examination, dietary diary, fitness and sleep activity monitoring, and even a fasting stool sample!

The selection process was quite rigorous; can you tell us a little bit about your experiences?

Once selected, I had to begin a process which meant my health and fitness were tested and my diet and lifestyle scrutinised in an effort to eventually show viewers how they could improve their health and live longer. 

My initial excitement at being on TV waned somewhat when I learned that, although fairly fit and of a good weight, my poor diet meant that my biological age was some 20 years further on than my actual 51 years. At the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, my heart was scanned and found potentially the beginning of cardio-vascular disease, which shocked me into taking on-board a drastic change in my lifestyle.

What was the filming process like?

I visited the Newcastle Institute for Ageing team, on several occasions, and met with various medical professionals who advised me how to change my diet and increase my exercise in an effort to reverse the plaque build-up in my arteries and reduce the years that had added to my body age.

Throughout the filming process, I had film crews in my home several times, while grocery shopping and on my drive to Work, and in the Dementia Crisis Team office. Later on into the process further filming showed how I managed to incorporate healthy eating and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) into my daily routine. All of this aimed at giving hope to people like me, who may consider that they have no time or space to take on a new regime. If I can do it, anyone can!

I am delighted to report that after three months, I have reduced my BMI, increased my muscle mass, lost fat and reduced my cholesterol levels, which in turn has reduced the potential for developing heart disease. I feel fitter, more energetic and am thoroughly enjoying a new and exciting approach to fitness, and a vastly improved diet.

What did you take from the overall experience?

Working within the Health Service, part of my role is to help people to make better informed decisions regarding how they live their lives, and to implement good advice from professionals. I feel that being on this TV programme (the glamour aside!) has increased my understanding of how to lead a healthier life, how to incorporate major change, and how rewarding it can be to take on a new regime and approach to daily life, which can make lasting and profound difference for the better. I plan to make these improvements in my health permanent, and also to bring the benefit of this learning, and approach to change, to good use in my daily work in helping our patients/family/carers in their lives too.

To watch a clip of Patrick’s appearance on How to Stay Young, visit the BBC iPlayer website at: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05fwn6j