Changing the conversation about health

A student writes: Summer School 2014

I was recently fortunate to be selected to attend the Student Summer School by my university. The theme of Self-Care and Resilience is something that is obviously a key area, in terms of NHS policy looking at the potential of people as a resource, to sustain Health and Social Care and promote positive outcomes. The format of the two days consisted of a number of lectures delivered by guest speakers during the first day, followed by practical workshops on the second.

A highlight of the first day was an inspirational lecture by Anya de Iongh, who spoke of the importance of self-management, in terms of living with a long-term condition, of which she was speaking from personal experience. The way she spoke of how vital the relationship is, in terms of a positive partnership between the professional and service user and the way they could work in unison to inform positive, achievable goal-setting was so informative, not least by the realisation that a service user is an expert of their own lived experience and we can learn so much from them. I saw that key points, such as asking the service user what they wanted to achieve from a meeting etc. are such vital aspects in building positive relationships.

What I reflected on overall from the first day was that, collectively, every discipline was positive in terms of moving on from the perception that service users often have of us, that we follow old–fashioned policies in terms of a ‘quick-fix’ within a certain time. It seemed clear to us all, that a more holistic approach that covered not only the ‘body’, but body, mind and spirit together was the key to a sustainable, person-centred approach to health and well- being. Social background and social isolation are often such major determinants of health and well-being in terms of psychological effects, and we need to look at the bigger picture of how we can inform and involve people.

It was also a key theme during the two days that we, as professionals, need to be aware of our own well-being and strengthening our resilience if we are to work effectively with service users to promote positive outcomes. Indeed, without the desired confidence and capacity we could not be effective.

Yet, after the Summer School, I went home with renewed enthusiasm; indeed, I thought about ways I could improve my own community by building on its assets, and will keep the College of Medicine informed of my progress.

Glynn Riches
Social Work Student
University of Huddersfield