by Bridie Ashrowan (Chief Executive)
In recent weeks, while many people and communities have been facing an array of additional pressures, I was asked to attend meetings with the Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Humza Yousaf, The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care.
Sitting (virtually) alongside senior colleagues from the Integrated Joint Board, City of Edinburgh Council (including Councillors) and NHS Lothian, I was acutely aware of the need for decisive action and change to combat a wide range of issues:
- The delays in diagnosis of illnesses and conditions like dementia, ASD and ADHD
- Longer and longer delays getting people home from hospital
- People ending up in hospital due to lack of available care and preventative services
- Carers not getting access to the respite care they need – impacting their mental and physical health
We are also hearing from our colleagues in the community and voluntary sector that they are facing new demands such as rising energy costs, and reduced charitable income.
This is the challenge of our lives: the consequences of the COVID-19 virus, the consequence of the consequences of the COVID-19 virus. Also, that as a society we have systemically failed to invest up-stream, to move the focus on rescuing folk from a torrent of a river, to building bridges.
But back to the meeting with The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf…
The focus in these meetings has been how to work with the Scottish Government and local government NOW – what role can the community and voluntary sector in Edinburgh play to address current system pressures in health and social care and what is needed to make that happen.
- Direct community support to help get people out of hospital faster
- A community sector navigator resilience programme
- A focus on 20-minute neighbourhood recruitment where jobs are advertised locally – alongside benefits advice and training – to support people into a career in social care
- Paying family carers who have self-direct support packages
- A carer bank app that can match available carers to people needing care
- Another 10+ ideas
We also talked to Hamza Yousaf about some of Edinburgh’s success stories, including the Community Taskforce Volunteer programme (managed by Volunteer Edinburgh and now supported by health and social care funding awarded in July 2021). The Taskforce has completed 6,500 support visits to people in need and provided over 11,000 hours of volunteering support to community vaccination clinics.
We highlighted the importance of increased local participation, and the opportunity presented by the investment of £1.255m for Community Mental Health and Wellbeing. Our ambition is to ensure that the voices of people with lived experience are amplified by designing a new process, which moves away from competition and towards collaboration. We believe that organisations involved in this will be able to design holistic, well rounded, local support mechanisms which support people in the right way at the right time.
What is clear from all of the above, is that there is a multitude of great ideas, so how do we support acceleration to delivery?
How do we know that this step-change is being prioritised in the same way as delivery of the Covid vaccine programme?
This is a new and positive engagement with the Cabinet Secretary, who thanked us for our presentation of ideas and our insights. It demonstrates the possibility of a wider commitment, from all community planning colleagues, towards systemically addressing some of the challenges we have as a city.
Our input of ideas was can-do and positive, even aspirational. Now we need to follow through, as it’s time to accelerate innovative ideas. To our statutory colleagues with the power to invest, we’re saying:
‘When we know better, we must do better… together.’
We’ve asked if we can report back to Mr Yousaf on ‘what has been done in Edinburgh to address the barriers to these ideas and more widely, the barriers to increased community investment.’
But over to you… Could you find ten minutes to tell us what you’re doing already and if you have ideas to discuss? My ‘door is always open’ and we would love to hear from you.
Together we can accelerate community investment to deliver for people in the city – times have been tough, they are about to get tougher. Can we join forces to rise to the challenge?