Unless you’ve been lucky enough to have been hibernating for the past year or so I’m sure you’ll be well aware of the changing landscape and the need for dramatic change in the way we go about our business across the sectors so that the needs of our local population are met. Sadly I have heard so many people talk about the changing demographics and rise in our older population as a’ negative’ or as a ‘problem we face’… but I personally feel this is our opportunity to do things differently….
- people are living for longer
- people want to live independently in their own homes and communities for as long as possible
- older people have so much to give in terms of creating vibrant supportive communities
- we need to think differently in relation to ‘service provision’ and the kinds of support that are key to maintaining good health and well-being
Actively engaging and involving people in identifying what enables them to keep and live well and to feel they are in control so that they can ‘live life to the full’ is absolutely essential and is key to the work being taken forward in Annan by the Health Improvement Team. The ‘Community Engagement, Resilience and Health Service Development Project is supported by the Putting You First Change Fund and is part of Dumfries & Galloways’ response to ‘Reshaping Care for Older People’
Engaging and involving Communities…
There has been some extensive work with older people to try to establish what matters to them and the kind of services and activities they need to enable them to live independently for longer with a good quality of life.
In Annan, for example, we went out into the town to speak to people. We did not organise a public meeting … we went to the Day Centre, visited people in sheltered housing, spoke to people in supermarkets and knocked on doors. We managed to speak to around 600 people.. We asked then to share their thoughts and they were happy to do this. We also found 175 people were in need of some kind of support or information and we were able to signpost or support them immediately (for some it was little things that were making them extremely anxious and for others it was more serious difficulties they were facing. In some cases I think we probably prevented crisis at a later date). Around 120 people gave us their details and said they would be keen to help us plan and develop… A really positive response..
A snapshot of people said…
What do you think would improve your health and well-being?
Recognising our assets… individual and community ..& Strengthening Resilience
“Communities and individuals harnessing local resources and expertise to help themselves (Civil Protection Lexicon 2010) In the ‘The Well-Connected Community’, Alison Gilchrist argues the importance and value of building networks within communities that results in individuals, families and the wider community building a ‘resilience’ leading to a sense of wellbeing and greater quality of life.…(SCDC.. Getting to Grips with the language)
We contacted the 120 people who said they wanted to get involved and invited them to work us by coming along to a ‘hands-on’ workshop type session where we spent time identifying local ‘assets’ in and around the town. ..we asked about places, people, services…things that they did or used to keep them well and we asked them to share their stories and experiences..….below are a couple of examples..
“ the hairdressers on the corner…my Mum has dementia and they are always so good with her.. even when she’s having a bad day..”
“ Skyline Guitars… it’s where I go when I need a bit of respite… I hear people practicing and often just spend quiet time looking at the guitars”
This information was used to populate the ALISS information engine which is a local national search tool that people will be able to use to find things to do or services that they need …
(This is still in development but you can have a look by going to www.aliss.org )
Co-productive approaches to developing ‘support and services’
“Co-production essentially describes a relationship between service provider and service user that draws on the knowledge, ability and resources of both to develop solutions to issues that are claimed to be successful, sustainable and cost-effective, changing the balance of power from the professional towards the service user. The approach is used in work with both individuals and communities.” Joint Improvement Team
Having information about how people kept themselves well and things they felt they needed to ‘do more of’ we invited people to come back together with some local Service Providers to start thinking about solutions and ways of meeting needs with the assets available. From these sessions came lots of creative ideas and we are currently working with local people to develop these… Some examples include Knit & Natter group who meet in a local Care Home, Arts & Crafts Groups, Walking groups for people with long term health conditions, creating Dementia Friendly Communities , informal Carer support, Ipad training, Confidence courses, Tea & Tennis… just to name a few. We are also working very closely with local third sector providers to help strengthen their capacity to offer more.
Changing behaviours and mindset..
Changing practice and ‘hearts and minds’ can be challenging to say the least, particularly in a short-life project or ‘test of change’. This work is part of the Putting You First Pathfinder Plan in Annan and we strive to ensure this ‘person and community focus’ is part of every project undertaken. As part of the work we have introduced the Community Link Worker role which is a resource to both individuals and practitioners. The Link Worker works with people to identify things that really matter to them and supports set personal goals and access what they need to achieve them. Practitioners across the sectors including GPs, Social Workers, District Nurses, Discharge Planners, are now realising the benefits for their client group of this real person centred approach focusing on outcomes rather than outputs and the use of existing assets that they may not have considered before.
Linking people to these assets and the sources of support is crucial in ensuring good health, independent living and peace of mind as is trying to capture the benefits and outcomes (more about this in a later Blog,,,). The introduction of the Community Link Worker role means that people are introduced to the concept of recognising their potential and setting realistic goals to meet personal outcomes. Sometimes it’s simply about asking the right questions… as more often than not it’s something small, really simple and fairly easy to fix that’s having the biggest impact on peoples’ health and happiness and their ability to feel in control of their lives and health again..
This concept is one we are hoping to take forward as part of the integration of Health & Social Care as it clearly plays a big part of delivering the vision for the future…
Oh.. and the star trek theme… my name before I married was Kirk and I went through my School and University years known as ‘the Captain’.. so, without much choice Star Trek has always been part of my life..
Elaine Lamont is a Public Health Practitioner with Annandale and Eskdale Health Improvement Team.