New ways to help people with longterm health conditions

Andrew Strong
Andrew Strong
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At the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, our resolution for 2017 is to continue to support and encourage real change in health and social care. Not change for change’s sake, but change that seeks to transform the experiences, outcomes and quality of life of people with disabilities, people living with longterm conditions and unpaid carers, and puts their human rights into much sharper focus.

2016 saw the publication of statistics revealing that half of the Scottish population now live with at least one longterm condition. With demand for health and care services set to increase, now is the time to put into action that much talked-about shift in thinking, investment and resource – away from crisis management and towards prevention, anticipation and supported self management. This is the key aim of Scotland’s new Health and Social Care Delivery Plan, published by the Scottish Government just before Christmas.

Throughout this year, the ALLIANCE will be looking at examples of change and how people drive improvements in support and services by campaigning, influencing and modelling new types of support. Our My Condition, My Terms, My Life self management awareness campaign emphasises the rights-based approach of people living with longterm conditions being in the driving seat of their lives and the support and services they use and the society they live in. It recognises that people are the experts in their own lives and we must capitalise on their experience and know-how.

The campaign recently relaunched with several new participants, highlighting the steps they have taken to self manage. One of these people is inspirational 11-year-old Grace Warnock, from East Lothian. Grace lives with Crohn’s Disease and, having experienced negativity from others, was keen to highlight that easily accessible toilets were not just for people who use wheelchairs, but also for people with “invisible conditions”. Grace decided to launch her own campaign, calling for improved signage on accessible toilet doors to drive home the message that not every condition is visible – and it is being steadily adopted across Scotland.

Meanwhile, resources to increase access to self management continue to develop. ALISS (A Local Information System for Scotland) enables access to health and wellbeing resources and signposts community support, with resources indexed by its users. Meanwhile, Euan’s Guide, a review website and app where users find and share information about disabled access to venues, continues to grow. For disabled people and their carers, knowing in advance how accessible somewhere is can save time, money and a lot of frustration.

The next 12 months in health and social care policy in Scotland will be significant. New strategies for mental health, public health and the NHS workforce will be implemented alongside a new set of standards to which health and social care support and services must adhere. Meanwhile, a new set of targets and indicators for health and social care will be developed and employability programmes – designed to support disabled people into work – rolled out, coinciding with the creation of a new Scots social security system. The pace of change is significant.

We must make sure that change is for a purpose – let’s hope that at the start of 2018 we can look back with a renewed sense of achievement and purpose.

Andrew Strong, Assistant Director (Policy and Communications), the ALLIANCE