The Future of our Health & Happiness – an essay by Andrew Moore

Neighbourhood Health Service – My Thoughts

Given the ever increasing profile of our NHS, the associated challenges and many opinions as to what should happen to it and how it should look, it is safe to say that the historic picture and frame we have of our health service is likely to change, infact change will be the only constant and guarantee.  Like all change this usually presents challenges many of which will be out of our control as individuals as we ourselves undergo a psychological shift of letting go of what was and begin working towards what the new normal looks like.

When initially thinking about letting go of what I currently recognise as the infrastructure of our NHS and consider the concept of moving towards a Neighbourhood Health Service it immediately led to thinking of my part in it.  Why? – I think this is because I automatically relate to being part of a neighbourhood and within that a will to do the right thing where possible within my community.  The idea of neighbourhood’s mobilising in coming together through a joint vision or value base is not new, if you take for example The Neighbourhood Watch Association who state their vision as being that of a caring society focused on trust and respect in which people are safe from crime and enjoy a good quality of life. Neighbourhood Watch is about making sure that no one has to feel afraid, vulnerable or isolated in the place where they live. It’s about people looking out for each other, crossing barriers of age, race and class to create real communities that benefit everyone.  I think there are definite elements of this vision that could translate to a Neighbourhood Health Service, not least the ‘looking out for each other’ aspect.  I would add to this the importance of looking out for ourselves as ultimately it could be argued that the first point of patient care is self-care in recognising our responsibility for keeping our selves well and able to function at an optimum level for the patients we serve.

The challenges the NHS face are huge and often overwhelming when beginning to think as an individual about how we can make a difference however, change can start with us as individuals and ‘looking out for each other’ is something that is within our gift.  There are simple acts of kindness that we as individuals have control over that can contribute to an ethos as described in the vision above.  Whilst some may view this thinking as twee, there is evidence to suggest that being kind and giving back can contribute significantly to personal resilience which is intrinsically linked to organisational resilience, both of which I believe would support a Neighbourhood Health Service.

The five a day for wellbeing developed by New Economics maps nicely with this view and describes how being kind and ‘doing the right thing’ can increase our own happiness emotional health.  They encourage us to actively become engaged in the conscious practice of giving through doing something nice for a friend, or a stranger, thanking someone, smiling, volunteering our time, joining a community group, looking out as well as in, seeing ourselves and our happiness, as linked to the wider community as this can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you – surely all of which would be supportive of a neighbourhood approach.

I believe the above is something we all have a chance to do when thinking about the ‘new’ normal of our health service; we all have choices to make around our attitude in shaping, being a part of and modeling change through becoming active members of a community.

Andrew Moore, Organisation Development Lead, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – January 2015

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