Representatives from the Scottish Government were in Stornoway last week (Thursday, October 15) for a workshop event in the Cabarfeidh Hotel, where they heard the views of AHPs – physiotherapists, occupational therapists, podiatrists, dietitians, radiographers and speech and language therapists – about how services could be improved.
The event is part of a ‘national conversation’ where government representatives are touring health board areas across Scotland to hear local views. These views will be taken on board, collated, and used to inform the £3million Active and Independent Living Improvement Programme, being launched in April.
This programme is the new version of the AHP Delivery Plan, launched in 2012 to help AHPs map out their services nationally, identifying areas of strength and areas for improvement. Allied Health Professionals are the third largest group in health and the only professional group directly employed by health and social care. They are all focused on supporting people to live independent lives and are therefore key to the success of the three-year Active and Independent Living Improvement Programme as well as to the integration of health and social care.
The Western Isles ‘engagement event’ was funded by the Scottish Government and attended by government representatives Dr Sarah Mitchell, programme manager for rehabilitation and the National Delivery Plan, and Grier McGhee and Christine Breslin, who are both national AHP leads.
Sarah said afterwards it had been “extremely helpful to hear the local views of what’s happening specific to the Western Isles” and said she would take away from it that “services still need to be more joined up”.
She praised the evident “will for change”, adding: “I’m very impressed by the teamwork and the connectivity that there seems to be and the desire and the willingness to make things better.”
All the contributions from the Western Isles workshop will be used to feed into the next phase of the development of the Active and Independent Living Improvement Programme. The bundles of paper were being taken away by Sarah, Grier and Christine and will be collated along with the feedback from similar events around the country. A copy of all the contributions from the Stornoway session will also be made available to NHS Western Isles to help inform change at local level.
In terms of informing development of the new three-year programme, Sarah said: “I would expect the Western Isles to be leading the way. It would be great if we had the same willingness across all the board areas. We’ve had some fantastic discussions.”
Engagement exercises such as this one are being held until the end of December. Prioritisation exercises will then be carried out, ahead of the April launch of the programme, which is about providing better health for the population and better care for individuals, through prevention, early intervention and rehabilitation and enablement.
As well as sharing their views in workshops, event delegates also heard from a couple of patients and a carer, who shared their first-hand views of services. As well as suggesting areas where improvements could be made – such as transfers – they highlighted the excellent service provided locally, with occupational health and podiatry coming in for particular praise.
One patient said: “I know quite a lot of people in the room. You’re all assets to your professions and I love you all.”
Carer Eleanor Macleay, a retired senior nurse who looks after her mother at home, shared her experiences of the service after her mother, 94, was admitted to hospital following a fall. She told how staff “pulled out all the stops” to help get her home in three days, as Eleanor wished.
“They were on the button” she said. “The nursing staff looked after her very well and treated her as an individual and with great respect. Everything was aimed at getting her home on the Friday. I couldn’t have asked for better support. We had all that kit and caboodle in the back of the car ready to receive her.
“They enabled the rehabilitation of my mother. The equipment has given me the confidence to carry on with the rehabilitation at home, without having to depend on other people to spoon feed her. She is ecstatic to be home.”
Her message to the government taking views from these events was simple. “Put your money where your mouth is and get it (recommendations) into place sooner rather than later.”
The Western Isles event was chaired by Sonja Smit, Occupational Therapy Services Manager and chair of the AHP Advisory Committee.
Dr Ron Culley, chief officer for Health and Social Care, said the event was “very, very useful”. He added: “Over the last month or so and over the next couples of months we need to ask as many staff as possible as to how to develop and deliver integrated services and today was an important part of that conversation, particularly focused on the contribution of AHPs.
“AHPs are absolutely crucial. What we want to get to is integrated arrangements where all the professions support individuals and I think AHPs have got a really important role to play in developing holistic care.”
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