social business for urban development
Looking after the health of our local community
Happy new year. I thought we’d go broad for the first post of 2013 and talk about Public Health overall and how Three Sisters Care could be involved. I recently met with Susie Cromer from the NHS and her enthusiasm was really catching, so I decided that I must invite her to share her insights with my readers.
I’m a Public Health Locality Manager and I look after the South West section of Tower Hamlets. My job is to link community organisations with Public Health initiatives as a way to help the public understand health issues and overall I guess my remit is to improve the health of our local community. On a day to day level, I manage contracts for delivering Public Health programmes.
2. What exactly is ‘Public Health’ and what are the current trends in communication in Public Health that a social care agency could help promote?
Public Health as a sector is simply ensuring the promotion of health messages, such as lifestyle, diet and fitness, focused mainly on prevention and protection. Examples in Tower Hamlets include both communication and practical projects on weight management programmes, health intelligence, or emergency planning for Flu epidemics. Current trends in communication in Public Health include campaigns for programmes such as screening and cancer awareness and Health Checks – and all public facing organisation like Three Sisters Care could promote these messages through distributing posters and leaflets. We also have various (grant funded) programmes that small local organisations can apply to run, such as the Can-Do Grants or the really successful Health Trainer project where local people are trained to be Health Champions.
3. Our aspiration at Three Sisters Care is to increase empathy and social interactions in our community. What are your suggestions for a small company to create social capital and connections?
Social capital is about being embedded in the community so that you’re a real resource they can come to when they need something. Fundamental to this is building trust. You do this by doing what you say you will. In addition, if you give people something above and beyond what they expect from a social care provider, then they will spread that news of receiving added social value – for example, ‘I went to Three Sisters Care to find out about receiving personal care for my mum, but I also found out where I could go and do some training in First Aid’. So make sure that everyone who comes to you gets something out of their experience – connect with things that matter to them (as parents and children) and to their wider concerns. I would like to add a mention here of ‘invisible borders’ – people face many barriers to accessing services that are not really articulated. You could create valuable social capital by identifying and addressing those.
4. We want to offer social interactions as a service to our customers alongside personal care. What are the known health benefits of being socially active?
Social health, physical health and mental health are all interrelated and must be addressed as a whole. The social element can be seen in family and friendship support networks, community participation and solidarity, social justice and equality; all these things impact on positivity, self-esteem, control, resilience and sense of purpose, which overall leads to reduced stress levels.
Risk of disease is affected by these social determinants but also how people manage their disease is also influenced by social determinants. For example, more socially active people can find out about services, negotiate their care and support and are supported to take up services and also more likely to get proper treatment.
There’s been excellent studies done in the area and it’s true that people with social goals and a sense of purpose are healthier; self-confidence has a positive influence on better health outcomes; more socially active people with strong social ties are less likely to die prematurely. You can read more in Marmot’s Review (2010): Fair Society, Healthy Lives.
5. I’m interested in the science of ageing and increasing our healthy years. What are the key advances in health or medicine that as a sector we need to be following?
There are some big advances in dementia drugs, dementia services and dementia care and if there’s one area you could position yourselves to be an expert in, I would suggest that’s a good one for you. The second area is related and that is demographics – as we live longer we are creating an older society. Much of these extra years are healthier and we’ll be needing to work longer, but it also means that more of us will experience the illnesses associated with old age, such as dementia. I’ve attached the Census for your area and everyone can download the same information for their own region from the ONS website.
What an enlightening interview! Thanks Susie and we can’t wait to have you come share your knowledge at our social care Advice and Information Day in February.