The right care for Parkinson's

Steve FordYou might have noticed media coverage in the past week on the heated political debate over social care reform, which includes the possibility of free personal care at home.

Parkinson's is often seen as mainly a health issue. But good social care for Parkinson's is vital too, and it's also a huge part of the work we do.

We work both in coalition with other charities - like the Prescription Charges Coalition for health issues - and on our own on topics specific to Parkinson's.

We were one of the signatories of a letter to the editor of the Times, and carer Denise was happy to share her story of caring for her husband Pete in the newspaper as well.

Pete was diagnosed with Parkinson's about 12 years ago, and now needs extensive care. They've had a daily visitor from social services to help wash, dress and shave Pete, which Denise says is a godsend.

Denise and Pete would be eligible for the free personal care at home, but even so Denise says getting respite care would be an issue.

We have responded to the Government consultation on the Free Personal Care at Home Bill, and we will continue to campaign for the best care for Parkinson's - both in health and social care.

Steve Ford is Chief Executive at the Parkinson's Disease Society

The evidence stacks up for exercise

Dr Kieran BreenRecently I've been inspired by people with Parkinson's up and down the UK who are getting active.

Our local groups are doing everything from tai chi to tango, members are getting into Nintendo Wii, and people like former professional sportsman Ian Taylor are even hitting the headlines.

We've known exercise is good for us for decades. But over the last few weeks, research revealing the remarkable effect exercise has on our brains has been coming in thick and fast…

But we need more research to make sure we get the most from exercise. We don't yet know what types of exercise work best, how often and for how long people should train, or how long the benefits last.

I'm confident that research will answer these questions. In the meantime, I'm off to the gym…

Dr Kieran Breen is Director of Research and Development at the Parkinson's Disease Society

Wake up call on prescription charges

Steve FordYou may have seen some of the recent media coverage calling for prescription charges to be scrapped in England for people with long term conditions.

We are really proud to be a part of the Prescription Charges Coalition which has driven this call. Working together with more than 20 other health charities we have a louder, stronger voice for campaigning to the Government.

In September 2008, Gordon Brown promised to give people with long-term conditions free prescriptions. It still hasn't happened and we've been campaigning with the Prescription Charges Coalition ever since to get him to keep his promise.

We want free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions. At the moment, younger people with Parkinson's can face years paying for expensive medicines. We think it's unfair and it needs to change. Prescription Promise campaigners

This week the Prescription Charges Coalition organised a group of people to gather outside parliament, and used Twitter and Facebook networks to get people to phone Gordon Brown and ask him to keep his promise. We flooded the switchboard and even more publicity came out of the action.

The next step is to write to Gordon Brown to demand a response following our phone calls, and continue the campaign for a better deal for people with Parkinson’s. If you would like to get involved in our campaigns sign up to the National Campaigns Network

Steve Ford is the Chief Executive at the Parkinson's Disease Society