A MEANINGFUL conversation is needed over the future of community health and social care within Dumfries and Galloway.
That is the message being promoted to every person within a region which is now facing very real and significant challenges as it emerges from COVID.
‘Time to Talk’ is being launched over the summer months by Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership, aimed at marking the start of an ongoing exchange needed to jointly shape approaches in the wake of the coronavirus.
Julie White is the partnership’s Chief Officer, and she said: “We have really significant challenges around health and social care in our region.
“You would be forgiven for thinking that the easing of COVID-19 and the implementation of an amazing vaccination programme relieved pressure on systems and put us in a much better place.
“In reality, the very real and growing challenges we faced as we entered the emergency response to COVID-19 never went away. We continue to face unrelenting growth in demand for all of our services, we are experiencing significant challenges in recruitment and this is against a backdrop of considerable financial pressure.”
In 2011 Dumfries and Galloway had a population of 151,324, out of which 29,254 were aged 65 to 84, and 3796 were aged 85 and above.
By 2039, the number aged 65 to 84 is projected to have increased by over 10,000 to 39,491 and the number aged 85 will have grown to 9335.
Meanwhile, the working age population is projected to shrink from 94,966 to 73,671.
Challenges exist right across health and social care, from ensuring there are enough GPs to serve the population, that we are able to reduce waiting times for services, that people are able to be discharged from hospital in a timely manner that we have community-based teams to support people in their own homes and that we have the right configuration of beds in our communities.
Julie White said: “There’s an awful lot we can talk about, but ‘Time to Talk’ will have a focus towards community health and social care – as this is the area which we see as demanding an immediate focus.
“This takes in everything from care homes to care at home services, day services, cottage hospitals, community health services, social work services and primary care services such as general practice and community pharmacies.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve continued to work hard towards our goal of providing people with the right care, in the right place, at the right time, and supporting people to live well within the comfort of their home as much as possible.
“We’ve made progress around Home Teams, Single Access Point and Assistive and Inclusive Technology during COVID as a means to achieve this, but we need to shape our approaches together on how all of this is delivered.
“Everyone should have an interest in where we go with health and social care, as it affects every single one of us. We really need as many people as possible to enter into a conversation with us so that we can build our future approaches together, with the benefit of combined knowledge, insights and ideas.
“We need to act together in order to address these challenges, so please join us. It’s time to talk.”
Engagement sessions will be taking place right across the region across June, July and August – with pop-up booths appearing in high streets, at supermarkets, and at public events including agricultural shows.
Scheduled engagement sessions will be taking place online, and attendance can be registered by emailing email@example.com
But importantly, everyone can have their say at any time – by completing a simple five question form, or by recording their comments either in audio or on video and submitting them to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone who encounters a frontline health or social care worker can also ask them for information on how to share their views and ideas.
A fold-out information sheet has been produced setting out some of the context and challenges to be considered when looking to the future of community health and social care.
Both the information sheet and the survey can be accessed by visiting the website www.dghscp.co.uk/timetotalk . Surveys can be completed and submitted via the website.
Over the longer-term, and working in partnership with communities on the basis of the views and opinions delivered, work will be undertaken to shape health and social care for the future.
It is hoped that many of those who take a role in this initial stage will continue to help shape the resulting, focused areas of work.