Report by Claire McKenna and Lara Cook Primary Care Strategy Team
COMMUNITY MATTERS – FROM PERSONAL INTERACTIONS TO LOGISTICS OF SERVICES
Last Wednesday myself and Lara visited a community café in North Motherwell where we had an interesting blether with some of the local residents as they popped in for their lunch. The Café – the only one in the nearby area – provides a chance for local people to get out of the house, catch up, meet new people, find out what’s happening in the neighbourhood and enjoy an affordable healthy lunch.
The Community Café currently runs twice a week: Tuesday and Thursday in the North Motherwell Parish church hall. The café has been running for a number of years and has developed through support from Inspiring Scotland’s Link Up programme and more recently, the Big Lottery. It is clear that the cafe has become a highly valued facility in the local community with often 80+ people using it. Around 8-10 of the locals are paid or volunteer to support the running of the café. They are responsible for preparing and cooking the food, front-of house duties, cashing-up and clearing-up. They told us that since working in the café their skills and confidence have grown and they now understand the importance of eating a healthy diet and how to achieve that on a tight budget.
It was clear from everyone that we spoke to the that the café has become a cornerstone in their weekly routine. It provides a friendly hub in the local community and has become so important to their health and wellbeing. “Without the café I wouldn’t see or speak to anyone all week”. “It’s a great place to meet people and it helps me to enjoy life.”
A group of ladies told us of the strong bond they have formed with each other through attending the café and participating in the craft classes they attend following their lunch. They said that they all feel if they were in a time of need they could contact each other anytime day or night and that was so reassuring.
People use the café for many different reasons, to meet with friends, to make new friends, and share valuable time with family members. We met a gentleman with kidney failure who meets here every week with his wife, daughter and grandchild and this is such a welcome distraction and break from the rest of his week which revolves around his dialysis. For all though, the connection with people is so important.
We were really inspired by the enthusiasm and passion of the team. Some of the kitchen staff who previously were volunteers at the café are now paid for their work. It was great to hear them talk about feeling valued through volunteering, but now being paid has boosted their esteem “I’ve been able to buy my daughter a scooter with the money I’ve been able to save”
Here are some of the views highlighted from the conversation:
- The logistics of getting to the health services in the area
- Poor transport links make getting to the GP practice, the Out of Hours Services and the hospital difficult especially as a large proportion of locals do not have access to a car. There needs to be more accessible health care services for all!
- There used to be a local service run by community/district nurses and people could drop in for a range of health clinics / advice / issues, this also provided a weekly baby clinic – all of this has gone and people need to travel to various clinics etc
- Health and wellbeing hubs in and around local areas / community centre are very beneficial and socially inclusive for all – consider funding
- Give GPs more control and empower nurses/pharmacies
- Consult with the local people in the design of healthcare facilities
- Needs to be better communication between hospitals and consultants to ensure speedier service and greater efficiency
- Hospital needing access to GP held patient records to save time and in some cases access information that may be beneficial to their time in hospital
- Accessible health care for all – possibly set up sub practice in local community facilities to ensure all can access e.g. people with mobility issues/disabled
- Many people have no broadband and limited funds on their mobile so could not utilise the benefits of digital services to engage with the GP practice
- Encouraging the use of community cafes in churches / community centre where people can eat homemade food for a fraction of the price
- Support with healthy eating and more food cooperatives
- Appropriate wording on forms for doctors and hospital to make more accessible to for people with learning disabilities
- Important to consider the role of interpreters and translators in healthcare services