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Its’ all about you

Health as a term has acquired a broad spectrum of definitions and meaning. As individuals, ‘being healthy’ can mean happiness every day, disease free or simple things like getting up everyday to be able to take care of you and others. To some people, it is about drinking 1 litre of water, 5 fruit and vegetables plus exercises a day. One survey described the many meanings of what health meant to individuals. We live in the 21st century where we have acquired a range of conditions particularly chronic ones, Medicine and medical procedures have improved over the years, and have had a long term impact on different conditions and the life expectancy. It is all about you and taking the driving sit to better health regardless of the ailments we suffer from.

Person centred thinking and planning is the art of having a positive outlook on life; the planning is about writing down in words, pictures or visual graphics where you are now and what you want to achieve? What is working in your life and what isn’t? What makes you happy or sad? What makes a good day and what makes a bad one? It is knowing the things that are important to you, now and in the future . As you begin to answer these questions, it is vital to think about changing negative (bad days, sadness, what s’ not working) into positives.  It is very much focused on the individual and these tools eventually help to map out your life and therefore managing our lives and health much better. The most important part of this process is ‘YOU’…more like taking action to live your life fully and letting the medical professionals  deal with your ailments.

Applying a different number of person centred tools is the beginning of de cluttering your life. It then becomes clear what or who is important to and for you and makes it easier to recognise simple long term goals. For instance the feeling of happiness, being healthy and able to do things, inner peace, greater knowledge and exploring opportunities you have never thought of doing.

Devising your own solutions to meet your everyday needs, setting goals and outcomes and then making sure those outcomes are met realistically…Simplicity is what I call it…try not to set farfetched goals that are not realistic to meet. Remember it is about what ‘you’ want, need and how, when ‘you’ will achieve. Having said this, personalization has to show a comprehensive positive outlook on life and using person centered tools to deal with the condition that you have.

It is a valuable habit to have an optimistic view of your life, you have received enough bad news now look at the good things about you. Personally, that is what being healthy is all about  and this definitely fits in to personalisation as I am taking control of my life.

 

Bob Marley in the window next door …

 

Today I’m going to a Muslim community association.  I’ve never been there before or knew it existed  -  even though I used to live only a few streets away.  White walled Victorian villas back up the streets of red brick terraces.  I stop around the corner to waste five minutes and acclimatise.  It is pouring and dull.  Driving down the road I think I’ll be thwarted in an attempt to park  ..  there are back to back vehicles crushing the contracted road space already narrowed by bollards denoting dead ends.  I pass a suitable spot just as I see the arched entrance to the centre  -  a converted building on a corner with, surprisingly, Bob Marley posters in the windows next door. 
 
I’d been invited to meet two speaking and listening groups  -  for people who have come to England for whatever reason  -  to escape persecution, to join family, for economic prosperity, for education  -  their journeys have brought them here, to Leicester and they are learning the language with the local college.  My visit is on behalf of Leicester City Arts & Museums Services.  I have the aim to make links with incoming communities and to invite them to the museum  -  so carry with me assorted world objects to start a conversation.
 
I brave the teeming rain to make my way in, happy to have parked safely.  A small secluded reception houses three quiet looking men  -  I wonder what they think of my arrival as I introduce my reason for visiting  -  but they seem to be expecting me and one leads me to the purpose built lift.  Going up reveals what appears to be an endless array of learning spaces, carpeted, with chatter creating an atmosphere.  Arriving at floor two I step straight into the classroom and am greeted by the teacher who has been my link in  -  she is smiling and she welcomes me to where about eighteen students are concentrating on their latest exercise.  Already surprised by the maze like extent of the building on the inside I am invited to make myself at home and a chair is brought over  -  the students gaze  ..  grinning.
 
In a few minutes the teacher stops what they are doing and a cumbersome shuffle shifts the furniture placing me in the centre on one side of a semi circle.  Slightly nervous to be faced by such a large group  -  both men and women and a range of ages  -  I wonder what they might think of me, could I assume the necessary balance of friendliness and formality that is appropriate to the purpose of my visit?  At the same time, personally, I feel excited to be saying ‘hello’ to them  -  their welcome is tangible although, so far, unvoiced.  I start by introducing myself, clasping my bag of objects for security, then go with it, asking each to introduce themselves and to tell me their country of origin.  Iran, Kurdistan, Brazil, Somalia, Portugal, Pakistan, Morocco, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, India and  ..  Sweden  -  it seems amazing that there were so many ‘tales to tell’, so many stories of migration in one small space hidden away on a backstreet that carries a different type of history located in its architecture.  While listening my mind’s eye recollects the presence of other nearby cultural centres, the Hare Krishna Temple and the Jewish Synagogue are both within about a quarter of a mile  -  one a peaceful presence of about 100 years, the other located there no more than a decade ago.  I wonder about their journeys and what has motivated their migration to Leicester, to the Midlands, to England, UK.  Was this really a better option  -  what contrasts might there be to the familiar surroundings of their origin  -  what expectations were shifted in order to meet the raw reality of having to throw away normality to seek a different type of security?
 
The group seem thrilled by the objects I’ve brought  -  none of which seem to link to their own cultural identities, but that doesn’t matter, and the simple guessing game they generate is energised.  We share the delights of an Australasian totem, a Sri Lankan lacquered pot, a Japanese Noh theatre mask and a Buddhist prayer book in which the holy sayings are jotted on bark pages before I am ushered away to meet another group.  On my return, they have taken out their own ‘objects of identity’ and I am thrilled in return …

 

Are we at risk with maternity services?

The ongoing proposed closure of birth centres around the country is an outcry, from both health professionals and communities. We have become aware that areas such as Dover, the East. and Coastal regions and parts of Derbyshire have fallen victim to the postcode lottery of health services provision whilst in Cambridge progress continues for a world first class maternity services, mainly through campaign and donations and the public’s charitable help. I wonder if this is a sign and times to come for this gesture to be rolled out nationally.

Pregnancy specifically is a very critical and tender phase for mother and the child as well as fathers. Repercussion of ignoring the health during this critical phase can be seen in mother as well as child in the form of various disorders, some being irreversible ones and even perinatal mortality.

Like many other issues going on, I have chosen to raise this issue with friends and colleagues who have or are going to experience pregnancy and childbirth at some point. Certainly, for first timers it is overwhelming, well at least I was. Amazingly, despite living in the same region we all seem to have experienced very different services. Other than the feeling of joy about our pregnancy; I commend the midwife, all the other health professionals that were involved and the maternity services provided. The end result: A healthy newborn, overjoyed parents and enough education to deal with the next one. It was comforting to know I would be getting my weekly visits from the midwife and never needed to worry.  Not many have the same experience, and what I had concluded from all the chatting was, fear for another pregnancy and birth process, looking to go private and some wanting a different birth experience in a hospital not local to them. These feelings have been brought on as a result of shortage of staff; lack of time to share valuable information and basic education, particularly first time mothers; understaffed hospitals with poor services. In one case, she had had a caesarean (not out of choice) when the baby was born, she was left to it, a remembrance of the many times she buzzed, with no response.

courtesy of Treetops Photgrapgy

Learning from hospital incidents is important for patient safety; at the same time ensuring expectant mothers are given a choice about their birthing options, as long as health professional deem it safe. There are a number of initiatives that seek to reduce incidents, that impact on patient safety in which case lessons should be learnt. I have come to learn that hospitals in relatively poor areas have a population with more social health problems therefore increasing the perinatal mortality rate to 30% within the UK. Research shows that, two thirds of the mortality rate results directly from differences in medical and health care. So this could mean neonatal death and unnecessary complications can be prevented by improving medical and health care in failing areas.

The perinatal mortality rate is indicative of perinatal and neonatal care, as well as living standards, maternal health, medical intervention and care. There is an awareness of the risk factors through research and lessons learnt from hospital incidents. A combination of factors seem to increase the risk of poor maternal health, “Patient UK” 2009 quotes that maternal health; social class; age of mother( below 20 or over 40); region of maternal residence and marital status (where still babies  born outside marriage) are all possible risk factors.

To choose between campaigning for better services for the NHS with the help of public donations or privatising maternal services, I am certain I will be lifting that placard high enough and marching the streets. In some cases I must say it is either sheer luck or a consistently good service or maybe bad timing and a continuous lack of standards. If all women are to have one-to-one midwifery care through labour, and in some cases, urgent assistance from other members of the maternity care team such as obstetricians, anaesthetists and neonatologists. Then a review in funding maternity services and resources needs to be considered. Pregnancy and childbirth should be safer for mother and baby, should not be determined by region, ethnicity, health condition or even social factors, at least not in the UK. Strengthening partnership working has been the order of the day for some time; hence all these factors presented should be addressed. It is imperative that there should be systems and funding in place for people to do their jobs effectively.

If there is a chance that routine visits from the midwife are to be affected due to staff shortages or merely not enough trained community midwifes, then why not educate first time mothers and fathers to make them aware of the most vital issues to watch out for.

This will definitely not just affect mothers and new borns’, but we may find ourselves at the bottom of the Europe league tables in terms of providing and sustaining good standards of maternal services. People talk about accessing better health and care; accessing is the easy part, its’ the fully funded, equipped and resourceful services that need to be available.

 

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