Life isn’t a bed of roses, is it?
Are you in control of your life?
Are you in control of your health?
Are there things you want to do that you enjoy?
Or that you just want to achieve before you die?
What makes you want to get up in the morning?
What makes you smile and feel warm inside?
And do you live with ill health which makes these things difficult?
I do. I have several long term conditions that I shall live with and die with. Not necessarily of.
Though if I don’t look after myself I might die of them.
What does looking after myself mean?
Well, in my book it’s about staying active, engaged in my communities, meeting and talking with people, and doing things that give me pleasure. Like gardening, walking, feeling the wind and rain on my face.
And that might also be called maintaining my wellbeing.
What has this to do with the new report published by National Voices’ Wellbeing Our Way programme:
“What is the role of Voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in care and support planning?”
There’s now plenty of evidence that improved wellbeing leads to improved health outcomes. And that investing in community based activities and support for people with ill health (or not) is a way of improving wellbeing.
In fact, as the report demonstrates, many projects around the country are able to demonstrate significant Social Return on Investment.
The traditional model of healthcare has been one of health professionals “doing to” rather than “doing with” the patient to either cure them or to provide treatment. The patient often didn’t get much say in whether they wanted that treatment, or how they might improve their health in other ways.
Stop smoking. Drink less. Take more exercise. Eat more healthily.
Yeh. Easy, eh?
Patients have been passive recipients of care for decades.
In recent years though things have begun to change. The mantra is now “No decision about me without me”. Rightly so, since active participation in one’s health care leads to better outcomes, however you measure these.
What, then, do voluntary and community organisations bring to shared decision making and care and support planning?
For a start, between them they know what resources are available in communities. After all, they run most of the social activities that go on. They also recruit and train the millions of volunteers who give many hours every month to run or support activities, groups and individuals.
VCSE organisations have strong values, putting people at the centre of their work. Volunteers have strong values and motivation. They can also organise community activities and groups in ways which statutory organisations cannot. They use social networks to gather people together to help each other, and that leads to improved wellbeing both for volunteers and for those benefitting from their work.
Voluntary and community organisations cannot run on values, enthusiasm and fumes alone and need financial support, but they are incredibly efficient in making that money go a long, long way.
So, CCGs and Councils all over the country, make sure you all read this report and act on it.
Invest in your local voluntary and community organisations to provide support for people to develop their care and support plans and activities. It’s great value and you really improve the health and wellbeing of the people you exist to serve.