Still here! Still doing the things and the stuff and juggling all the hats. Still banging the drum for getting busy by getting busy. Some of you have said that it helps you when I tell you what I’m doing, so I’m going to keep doing that for want of anything better to say at the moment. If it soothes you to know that someone is running around like a demented hamster on a wheel, good. If it inspires you, good. If it just gives you five minutes to sit down and not have to think about your own life, or the news, good.
One of the things that is really helping me target what I do is my community page on Facebook. I’m lucky in that I live in a very community minded (in the best way) area, where we still have local shops, local tradesmen and people are keen to keep it that way. There is a lot of investment by people who live here in the area they live in. The community page on Facebook encourages that. There is a constantly growing list of local tradesmen, local businesses are allowed to advertise (not too frequently), and people are always asking for advice on things like good bars and places to eat, etc. There are also posts that are more community action focussed. People making people aware if they’ve found a lost purse, or some keys etc, and bigger things like events, projects, etc. Don’t get me wrong, there are arguments and misunderstandings too, but the moderators are good at their job and keep the peace really well.
This week I’ve used the site to get feedback from people about how they feel about school nurse provision in the area for a meeting I have next week. I’ve also picked up on a message from a friend whose PTA are looking for books to restock their local primary school library. That’s something I have experience of and can help with, so I was able to get back to her, and now, with very little effort on my part I can do something positive to directly benefit my community.
I’ve also been made aware of the potential closure of local playgrounds and serious cuts to funding for the ones that are not being closed. Someone is organising a protest. It’s in my diary. If I can go, I will. As it is, I’ve spread the word on my own Facebook feed so that other people in the city can see it if they haven’t, and they can start spreading the word.
So, if you want to do something, find out if you’ve got a community page and join it. It might well be 95% selling stuff from Ikea that seemed like a good idea at the time until you got it home and realised it wasn’t. We have that on our board too, but you can start posting ideas, questions, suggestions, and help change it into a valuable resource if it isn’t already. If it is, get in there, and see what you can do. If you haven’t got a group like that, why not start one?
I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I recently became a member of our local newspaper’s patient panel. We meet once a month to talk about and share stories that affect the health of the people in our city and county. We get to sit in on meetings with people who make decisions and press for changes where we feel things are not serving patients best. Some of the work we do goes into newspaper articles. A lot of it doesn’t because most of it is very boring and acronym festooned, but as ever, there is always the capacity to make change, and knowledge is power.
This week I have been preparing for a meeting we have next week with the Care Quality Commission to talk about the link between NHS care and social care. Basically, our job is to highlight and make the case for the stuff that falls through the cracks. At the moment this is just about everything. I can’t do everything though, so this week I’ve been looking at school nurses from the point of view of the nurses themselves, students and parents. I’ve also been looking into addiction and the services that are supposed to be there to support addicts, and finally dementia care, or the lack of.
You might think. Gosh, I couldn’t do any of that. I don’t know anything about that. Guess what? Me either. When I started our GP campaign in January I knew absolutely nothing at all about the NHS except how to go to the Dr and cry on their desk. Now I know a lot. I also know I need to know a lot more. I know about addiction because I used to be married to an addict (who has been clean for 20 years. Well done) I know about school nurses because a) I used to go to school and b) I now have children in school. I know nothing about dementia care except it is terrible. But I can find out.
Don’t let not knowing stop you from doing. Be cool with saying. ‘I don’t know, but I can find out.’ It’s amazing how far that gets you. In the last two days I’ve learned a lot about social care in one way or another. Next week, when I go to the meeting I will be able to represent people who cannot go, and that will be a good thing. And I will undoubtedly learn a lot more, and I can take that learning back to the people I represent and help them learn a lot more too, so next time, our questions will be better, we will be more prepared, we will be one step nearer towards making the differences we want.
And on that note, I am interested in micro-lending sites like Kiva. I think I need to do a bit more research before I decide where to invest my money, so if someone has any experience of it either with Kiva or another body, please let me know in the comments.
And right now I’m not doing anything worthy. I’ve bought a fantastic picnic from my wonderful friend Simon at our local deli, and I’m going to load it into the car and hit the road with my great friend Alex and we’re driving to London to see a play and have a high old time. I can’t wait.