Employers urged to be more transparent around workplace mental health

By Raspberry Jim,

Employers across Wales are being urged to adopt more transparent attitudes to mental health as it’s revealed one in six workers struggle with the issue.

Leading mental health expert at CJCH Solicitors Keith James is calling on businesses to become more proactive and inclusive in supporting staff dealing with issues including depression, stress, and anxiety in the workplace.

Mr James, whose specialist firm has the largest mental health law department in South Wales, is speaking out ahead of World Mental Health Day on Tuesday. The global initiative, which aims to create a worldwide discussion surrounding mental illness, is this year highlighting the reality of mental health in the workplace.

This comes as Welsh Government figures have recently revealed that 90% of employees who take time off work due to stress, instead gave another reason for their absence, such as a stomach upset or headache. While the statistics also reveal that one in six workers is struggling with these issues.

No-one dealing with the daily struggle of depression, anxiety, or stress should be left to suffer silently for fear of discrimination. Equally, workers should not be afraid to speak to managers about mental health-related absences.

Introducing change must start from the top. Managers must adopt more transparent attitudes towards mental health as a priority, in order to encourage a culture of inclusivity and openness throughout the Welsh business economy.

I am delighted to see that workplace mental health will form the basis of this year’s World Mental Health Day, as I feel this is an issue that will only worsen if not tackled sensitively and co- operatively.

In a bid to support the mental wellbeing of its own valued team, CJCH provides a 24/7 dedicated employee help line, which includes mental health and wellness support, at the firm.

Ahead of World Mental Health Day, Mr James has offered his top tips to businesses to encourage greater discussion and understanding around mental health in the workplace.

Recognising stress

Stress is often dismissed an inevitability in a busy working environment. However, when stress exceeds the norm, it can have a serious impact on a workforce, affecting its productivity, the wellbeing of staff members, and damage working relationships.

Being able to identify the signs before it spirals to unhealthy levels could help to ease the pressures on individuals.

Signs can include a drop in performance, increased sickness absence, a change to someone’s personality and attitude, which could include becoming withdrawn, overly emotional, or argumentative, higher staff turnover, and increasing complaints.

Recognising this and dealing with it early is essential.

Encouraging positive language and openness in the workplace

According to figures 49% of workers would not be comfortable disclosing a mental health issue at work.

As a result it is essential that those coping with a mental health issue feel supported enough in their environment to come forward if they are struggling. Adopting positive language in discussions around mental health can also change attitudes, and takin a stance against discriminatory terms, such as lunatic or nutter, can aid this change.

Creating a confidential space where employees can visit to discuss any worries or concerns at work could also alleviate pressures. Also creating an open-door policy for a specifically trained employee, who is able to support colleagues with mental health, could help address any issues effectively.

Introducing quarterly talks with specialists from charities including Mind and Gofal could also help to encourage further discussion and understanding around mental health.

Develop an action plan

Employers should attempt to work with employees to develop an effective way to identify the triggers which affect their mental health problems at work.

Creating an action plan which highlights mental health signs, stress triggers, emergency contacts, and what support they require will ultimately assist the staff members with their issues on a more personal level.

Encourage people to seek advice and support

Employers should encourage any employee who requires assistance to speak with a professional counsellor or GP to help them work through their anxiety, stress, or depression. Leaving vital information and helpline details for organisations including Mind (0300 123 3393), the Samaritans (116 123), and the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line (0300 5000 927) at communal points in the office can also provide support.

Law firm CJCH wins anti-piracy contract from movie effects software creators

By Raspberry Jim,

An award-winning special effects company which worked on Hollywood blockbusters including Guardians of the Galaxy has teamed up with Cardiff-based law firm CJCH.

Visual effects company Foundry, which produces the creative software used to deliver films such as Avatar, Inception, and Guardians of the Galaxy, has appointed the law firm to protect its intellectual property.

CJCH has a global reputation for its expertise in fighting copyright piracy, and recently won Welsh Government backing to establish and run an anti-piracy hub creating more than 70 jobs.

Established in 1996, Foundry is headquartered in London, with offices in Manchester, Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley.

Its software is used in the film, TV, design, gaming, virtual reality, automotive, apparel and education industries, and the company has worked with some of the world’s most renowned studios.

CJCH will fulfil an anti-piracy and compliance role, tracking down illegal users of Foundry visual effects software, Nuke (visual effects), Modo (3D modelling), Mari (high resolution 3D painting), and Katana (high efficiency CG look development and lighting).

Nuke software has been used in many recent blockbusters, including Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avatar and The Twilight Saga.

CJCH has helped recoup millions of euros for clients in recent years, and targeted initiatives in Spain alone last year generated over 500,000 euros in settlements for one software client.

Steve Rees, of the CJCH intellectual property (IP), anti-piracy and compliance team, said: We are excited to be involved in a new venture with Foundry, given the success we’ve had with clients in other sectors of licence compliance.

Foundry’s work with visual effects is world renowned and to be protecting their IP is an exciting new challenge for the firm.

VFX (visual effects) winners at Academy Awards, whose tools were provided by Foundry, include: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Avatar, Inception, Ex Machina, and Interstellar.

CJCH, a Wales top-20 law firm with headquarters in Cardiff, has grown to more than 100 members of staff. Its expertise covers the full range of legal services including commercial, corporate, dispute resolution, intellectual property, mental health, employment law, motoring, property, family, child care, crime, wills & probate.

Further information about the firm is available at www.cjchsolicitors.co.uk.

 

Expert advice on challenging a false neglect or wrongful death allegation

By Raspberry Jim,

The sudden and tragic death of a nursing home or residential patient can be devastating for all those involved.

From the family who have lost their loved one, to the facility and its staff who worked tirelessly to treat the elderly resident in their final days, a loss can be profound.

However, an added allegation of neglect, which may have contributed to the resident’s death, could exacerbate the family’s grief and have significant legal consequences for the nursing or residential home involved.

Earlier this month nine private care homes in West Sussex were placed under investigation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) over allegations of ill-treatment, which may have resulted in the death of a number of residents.

This is just the latest in a string of investigations into alleged neglect and abuse at care facilities across England, with numerous homes closed or placed into special measures by the health and social care inspectorate.

Figures from the CQC released earlier this year show that of 4,042 residential nursing homes inspected found that 1,496 – or 37 per cent – were considered unsafe.

These statistics will be troubling for the majority of nursing and residential homes across the country which endeavour to protect and safeguard against the neglect of those in their care.

Consultant Phillip Williams, of leading serious fraud, crime and regulatory law firm Blackfords LLP, said facilities were facing a higher level of scrutiny in recent years.

He said: “With a number of high profile cases of neglect and related deaths being reported this year alone, residential and care homes are now under a significant level of pressure to ensure they meet standards.

“While it cannot be argued that this level of scrutiny is vital to ensuring the highest quality of care to elderly and vulnerable patients, it could lead to those in the industry feeling understandably concerned over the potential for being faced with allegations.”

But what can be done if a facility feels it is wrongfully accused of neglect? And, if this turns into an allegation of wrongful death of a resident, what steps can they take next?

Blackfords LLP specialises in representing care homes accused of regulatory breaches.

He said: “Any allegation is traumatic, but in cases where blame has been wrongly attributed, it is imperative that nursing and residential home practitioners feel they can speak out and seek assistance.

“Just as relatives have rights, so too do nursing and residential homes and their staff. In any instance where it is felt an unfair allegation is made, it is vital you seek legal assistance at the earliest opportunity.”

On dealing with an allegation of neglect, Mr Williams stressed that certain criteria had to proved by the complainant.

He said: “An accusation of neglect or contributing to a patient’s death, can be understandably upsetting for the facility and its staff.

“However, in order for an allegation of neglect to be made, certain criteria must have been demonstrated by the facility.

“For example, care home negligence can be demonstrated through factors including emotional and social neglect, medical negligence, basic needs negligence, or personal hygiene neglect.

“Issues within these categories could include malnutrition, lack of clean bedding, ineffective lifting aids, and failure to provide medication.

“Nursing or residential homes which have stringent checks in place to ensure the effective care of their residents, will be able to present these in their defence should a legal case arise.

“It is vital to remember that in any of these instances, the complainant must have substantial evidence that the facility or staff member was abusive and caused significant harm or suffering to the patient.

However, if it is an individual staff member who is accused of neglect or abusive behaviour, what steps can the facility take to defend itself.

“Staff who work at residential and nursing facilities are entrusted with the care of elderly patients during extremely vulnerable times of their lives. As such, rigorous screening processes, including Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, are carried out.

“Should a legal allegation arise at a facility, managers can prove that their staff underwent the necessary DBS checks before interacting with patients.

“Furthermore, practitioners can introduce a raft of measures such as introducing staff checks, care plans, and charts to demonstrate how frequently and in what capacity a staff member was caring for a patient. This proof could help to counteract any false accusations brought against an individual employee if an investigation progresses. It can also serve to highlight the patient’s satisfaction with the level of their care.”

Mr Williams said that in any of these instances the accused should seek legal advice from the complaint’s inception.

However, what steps do nursing and residential homes need to take in cases where a patient passes away following a neglect allegation? Could they face a wrongful death lawsuit?

Mr Williams said: “As in the case of negligence, the strength of evidence is vital. And it falls to the complainant and their solicitor to produce this once again.

“In order to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against a facility, a solicitor must prove the home’s conduct directly contributed to the death. For example, if the patient fell and suffered a serious injury but was consequently left without aid for a number of hours and then died.

“They must also prove neglect and also liability, as in the case of a serious fall, inadequate or faulty lifting aids were provided which contributed to the fall.

“It must also be noted that the injury or abuse must be judged as severe or timely enough to have resulted in the eventual death.

“In relation to the example of a fall, the death must be linked with symptoms arising from this, or occur soon after,” Mr Williams said. “An unrelated matter which arises some months later would not necessarily leave you liable.”

Mr Williams once again stressed the importance of effective protocol and filing systems in order to challenge any potentially false claims. A well maintained patient care plan, or daily chart system could be the difference between a wrongful death conviction or not, he stressed.

Lloyds Bank raise over £25,000 for Techniquest

By Raspberry Jim,

Lloyds Bank is helping ensure Wales develops a scientifically literate society through raising £25,000 for educational charity Techniquest.

The science discovery centre in Cardiff Bay was chosen as the recipients of the bank’s fundraising efforts earlier this year.

Since then it has hosted two events in support of the charity, which is Wales’ largest provider of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) enrichment activity.

Techniquest were the stars of Lloyds’ Einstein-a-Go-Go fundraising ball a few weeks ago, where £16,000 was raised through a raffle and silent auction.

Hosted at the Mercure Cardiff Hotel, the fundraiser welcomed over 200 people who enjoyed a three-course meal and a night of entertainment, including a guest appearance from Britain’s Got Talent’s The Balloonatic.

While back in May £10,300 was raised at a musical extravaganza held at the science discovery centre where guests enjoyed performances from Mark Llewellyn Evans, Manon Ogwen Parry, Alexander Johnson and Pendyrus Male Voice Choir.

With few people knowing that Techniquest is a charity-based organisation, both events helped raise the profile of the much-loved institution which has welcomed over 5m visitors since its opened 30 years ago. Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO at Techniquest said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support from Lloyds Bank and are indebted for the support they have given us.

“We have so many exciting plans for the future to develop Techniquest and the significant amount raised by Lloyds will make a huge difference. It’s crucial that we invest in our offering so that we can continue to inspire and engage the next generation in STEM and in turn support the Welsh economy.”

Jonathon Cave, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “Techniquest has such an important role to play in Wales. Through both in-reach at its science discovery centre attracting communities across Wales and outreach at schools across Wales, it is very successful at making science both fun and engaging. To ensure the charity has a sustainable future and can develop its offering further, we were more than happy to support them.

“We’re delighted with how much we’ve raised which we know will be put to good use and want to thank all the guests that joined us at our events.”

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Local engineering student takes ‘trip of a lifetime’ to world-famous CERN facility

By Raspberry Jim,

An engineering apprentice from Pencoed’s Sony UK Technology Centre has been on “the trip of a lifetime” to the world’s most powerful particle accelerator.

Max Rochefort-Shugar has visited the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, in Switzerland, which pioneers some of the world’s most advanced research.

As part of his visit to the world-renowned facility, the 20-year-old apprentice from Sony UK TEC had the opportunity to view the anti-particle factory which houses the Large Hadron Collider.

The machine is the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider which allows physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics.

As a budding engineer, the Merthyr College student was “blown away” by this, with experts at the facility also giving him an insight into the physics behind particle accelerators.

He said: “It was an absolutely unforgettable experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed.

“It was fascinating to see the Physics concepts I had learned at school being applied as part of the ongoing research at CERN.

“The work that I saw being carried out there into asset management software, archive documents, and their use of software to manage the organisation’s operations between departments, will also be highly beneficial as part of my apprenticeship with Sony UK TEC.

“CERN research the unexplored areas of the physical world, the visit has inspired me to continue to ask questions, explore new concepts, be curious about why things are the way they are, and to think differently. There can be multiple solutions to a problem and it’s important to look at things from different angles.”

Mr Rochefort-Shugar was chosen to take part in the research trip after joining Sony UK TEC, in Pencoed, as an apprentice electrical and software engineer 10 months ago.

Mr Rochefort-Shugar is one of 11 apprentices undergoing training at the facility, which produces thousands of HD broadcast and professional cameras for global distribution annually, including the latest 4K models.

Sony UK TEC director of professional services Gerald Kelly said that the facility had a responsibility to inspire the next generation of technologically literate employees.

He said: “As a factory which is invested in ensuring the continued success of the STEM sector in Wales, we feel it is essential to help nurture talent and develop the skills of tomorrow’s workforce.

“Our apprenticeship programme gives our people the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in a global manufacturing facility alongside some of the most highly-skilled teams in the world.

“Here they can see products going through every step of the manufacturing process from creation to distribution – so they gain a really thorough understanding of what the sector consists of, and it’s all under one roof.

“As a socially responsible business, we feel it is our duty to inspire tomorrow’s engineers with trips such as this to the CERN facility. We hope that Max and the others who attended will bring back some innovative ideas from their visit, which they can apply throughout the Welsh engineering industry.”

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Sustainable technology leader appointed to Greenaway Scott Group Board

By Raspberry Jim,

Sustainable technology leader Suzannah Bourne has been appointed to the board of progressive Cardiff advisory group Greenaway Scott.

The co-founder of Nemein, which develops technologies to enhance the safety of downhole oil and gas exploration, will join the firm as a non-executive director this month.

Ms Bourne is a qualified mechanical engineer who has been recognised among The Manufacturer’ Top 100 role models as one of the UK’s dynamic leaders and innovators in manufacturing.

She will join the board of Greenaway Scott Group, which currently includes chairman Peter Wright; CEO Nigel Greenaway; corporate director Matt Sutton; commercial director Rhian Osborne; and finance director Anthony Milford.

Mr Greenaway, founder of the advisory firm, which provides legal and business finance advice across the life science, technology, pharmaceutical and IT sectors via group companies Greenaway Scott and Verde Corporate Finance, said they were delighted to have a non-executive director with such specialist business acumen join the board.

He said: “Suzannah’s focus and impressive business sense are qualities we have long admired at Greenaway Scott and we are delighted to have her on the board.

“Her passion for the sustainable technology sector has driven the undeniable success of Nemein and she will undoubtedly be an asset at Greenaway Scott.

“We would like to officially welcome her to the board, and we look forward to working with her going forwards.”

Ms Bourne has run Nemein for four years making her mark on the sustainable technology energy sector. Before this she co-founded and built Guardian Global Technologies.

On her appointment, she said: “I am delighted to be invited to join the board of such a dynamic and industry-leading organisation and excited to work with Nigel and the team going forwards.”

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Law firm expands with new business law offering

By Raspberry Jim,

Regional law firm Watkins and Gunn has made a high-profile appointment to its award-winning team to support the continued expansion of the business.

Faris Dean has been recruited to head up a new team focusing on business law.

The firm, with offices in Newport, Cardiff, Pontypool and London, will now provide a wealth of corporate and commercial services including partnership and investment agreements, buying and selling of businesses and shares, shareholders agreements, advising on commercial contracts and drafting terms and conditions of business.

Joining the team from Richard Nelson LLP with 15 years of experience, Mr Dean, who is also a qualified accountant and fluent Arabic speaker, will assist the firm in developing the new department.

Providing both local and national SMEs with legal support, Mr Dean will also work to develop Watkins and Gunn’s international business offering, particularly targeting the Middle East, where it is already acting on behalf of an airline company.

Speaking of his new role, he said: “I’m thrilled to have joined the team here. Watkins and Gunn is a progressive firm. It has an excellent reputation in South Wales and has won a number of awards to back this up. I was interested in joining to expand its offering and develop the business internationally. My goal is to set up and expand the corporate commercial service to a level that makes a positive contribution to the firm.”

Clive Thomas, managing partner at Watkins and Gunn said: “We are delighted to have someone of Faris’s calibre join the team. His reputation precedes him and his experience will undoubtedly benefit us as we continue to expand the business.”

“We’re looking forward to offering new and existing clients a full range of corporate and commercial legal services. It is a very exciting time at Watkins and Gunn, with so many new developments and opportunities, and this appointment is the latest example.”

Watkins and Gunn offers a wide range of legal services including Accident Claims, Medical Negligence, Wills and Probate, Employment Law, Education Law, Public Law, Business Law, Divorce and Family Law, Childcare Law, Criminal Law, Road Traffic Law and Property.Untitled design-21

 

Techniquest strengthens team as events take off

By Raspberry Jim,

Techniquest, the educational charity in Cardiff Bay, has recruited a conference and events development manager to spearhead its brand-new event services.

The science discovery centre has welcomed Gareth McTiffin into a new position at the organisation, having launched its events offering in May to diversify revenue streams.

Mr McTiffen brings a wealth of experience to the organisation having worked for Merlin Events and Pinewood Studios, overseeing a diverse range of venues and attractions including the London Eye and Thorpe Park.

In his new role, he will be responsible for developing, marketing and managing the events offering at Techniquest.

Providing a unique and unusual backdrop for both personal and business occasions, Techniquest offers waterfront meeting and conference facilities, as well as its exhibition hall, planetarium and science theatre for venue hire.

For the first time in its history, Techniquest will this year host a series of Christmas parties for corporate organisations who are looking for something different.

Home to 120-hands on exhibits, it has already hosted the Cardiff Blues team for a team building day and hosted over 100 guests at its own 30th anniversary celebration last year, where Virgin Galactic’s commercial director Stephen Attenborough was guest speaker.

Speaking of his new role, Gareth commented: “I’m thrilled to join the team at Techniquest, as it has a truly unique offering for event bookers in Cardiff and the surrounding areas.

“Its architecturally acclaimed building is a perfect venue for many occasions – from corporate events, meetings and award dinners to wedding receptions, birthday celebrations and anniversary dinners.

“Being part of the story as Techniquest grows its events offering, was a huge draw for me. It also played a huge part of my childhood, and seemed like the perfect next step in my career.

“Having delivered corporate, private and ticketed events I’ve had to overcome many challenges that come with working within unique venues so I feel my experience is well placed to help Techniquest going forward.”

Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO at Techniquest, said: “Our new events offering has generated a lot of interest since launching in May, and recruiting the right Conference and Events Development Manager was pivotal to our success going forward.

“As soon as we met Gareth, his experience really set him apart and made him the ideal candidate. We’re looking forward to working alongside him during this exciting new chapter for Techniquest.”

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Construction leaders urged to ‘act fast’ if they spot worker exploitation

By Raspberry Jim,

Welsh construction companies are being urged to “act immediately” if they fear they are linked to modern slavery through their supply chains.

A leading Cardiff lawyer is calling on managers and leaders throughout the industry to be aware of exploitation of workers hired through third-party contracts.

It is claimed that the industry could be particularly vulnerable to this form of exploitation as a result of its reliance on contracted workers, cost-driven suppliers, and employees from socially deprived backgrounds.
This comes as figures from the National Crime Agency revealed there were 123 modern slavery referrals to the National Referral Mechanism in Wales in 2016. Just under half of these, 53, were in relation to labour exploitation, the statistics revealed.

Rhiannon Evans, a Legal Executive at Blackfords LLP, said construction managers and leaders should remain vigilant to exploitation to avoid being implicated themselves.

She said: “The construction sector is frequently recognised among the most prevalent for worker exploitation, as a result of the global trend towards outsourcing within the industry and its dependence on third-party contractors, who could be supplied from a number of different sources.

“While the vast majority would never knowingly partake in any exploitation, this potential lack of knowledge surrounding employee circumstances and conditions may not be a strong enough defence, so employers cannot afford to turn a blind eye to this.

“Employers who have hired in a victim of modern slavery, could be implicated in the offence themselves, which could have serious consequences for themselves and their business. Even in situations where a potential victim appears to consent or acquiesce to their treatment or conditions, this does not necessarily mean they are acting under their own free will.

“If there is any suspicion at all that you or your company are somehow involved in worker exploitation through a supply chain, act immediately and notify the authorities.

“In doing so you are creating a fairer, more equal working environment, not just for your business, but across the industry as a whole.”

The Welsh Government has this year introduced the Code of Practice for Ethical Employment in Supply Chains, in a bid to end the pattern of exploitation through third-party contractors.

The guidelines aim to create more transparency surrounding contracted workers to prevent this frequent method of exploitation.

Miss Evans said: “These guidelines will provide more clarity for businesses on what constitutes modern slavery and how it can be prevented.

“Not only will it help to curb this practice, it will also protect managers across the industry, by providing them with the tools they need to protect themselves against becoming inadvertently involved in exploitation.”

Blackfords is highly experienced in modern slavery cases across the UK. The firm, which specialises in defending complex criminal cases across Wales and England, is currently acting for a Welsh family and several others who have been accused of modern slavery offences through labour exploitation.

Miss Evans said: “We have seen a number of cases of exploitation through labour, with many across the construction industry. However, managers in the sector should not feel they must stop using contractors for fear of implicating themselves in an offence. Rather, they can continue to use legal third-party contractors, but we would just urge them to be vigilant of any warning signs.”

Miss Evans offered top tips to construction industry managers to be aware of, including:

  • Workers without identification documents.
  • Very low paid workers, or those who are not paid at all.
    Food or water deprivation, and lack of medical care.
  • Limited or no social interaction with colleagues or others.
  • Distrustful of authorities and/or afraid of revealing their immigration status.

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Greenway Scott advises on global medical device acquisition

By Raspberry Jim,

Cardiff’s award-winning Greenaway Scott has facilitated the acquisition of an international medical device company helping to create a “significant” new presence in the global maternity industry.

The business advisory firm has supported American medical device company Clinical Innovations in its acquisition of German developer Brenner Medical GmbH.

The deal, completed via Clinical Innovations Europe, will see the labour and delivery-focussed equipment business expand on its international presence to help support more expectant mothers across Europe.

Thanks to the deal, Clinical Innovations will also be able to capitalise on the extensive gynecology product network developed by Brenner, and broaden its commercial reach to enjoy further success across the industry.

Matt Sutton, director of corporate at Greenaway Scott, which specialises in supporting companies in the science, technology, pharmaceutical and IT sectors, headed an international team of advisors along with Dr Steffen Fritzsche, of Gruendelpartner.

On the deal Mr Sutton said: “Greenaway Scott was pleased to assist in the acquisition of Brenner Medical GmbH by Clinical Innovations Europe.

“The acquisition, which we worked alongside Gruendelpartner on, was carried out extremely effectively and efficiently to ensure the best outcome for both businesses.

“This is an intelligent move by Clinical Innovations which will enable them to grow and expand across Europe and the global medical community.

“We wish them every success as they go forward with the growing business.”Untitled design-2