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The Fife Regeneration, Health and Wellbeing Study

Finding out more about the health and wellbeing of the people of Fife

November 07: What Can I Do?

This session focuses on what specific helping professionals do to enhance individual and community health and wellbeing; as well as reflecting on what people feel able to do for themselves.

It takes us back full circle to our very first question of the first phase of the project in 2006 when we asked our local partners to think about what we could do to make Fife a happier place. Have a look at that here.

This is a pictorial representation of what people told us. You can right click and save this image to your desktop as an A4 poster here.

Poster

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We report on what people told us in the following sections

 

Over the course of the project our understandings and discussion about health and wellbeing have grown. Throughout the health and wellbeing study we have developed more of an understanding that good health is not merely the absence of disease, it’s also about:

  • Eating a good diet
  • Exercising
  • Caring for your body
  • Being safe and cared for
  • Having an interest
  • Feeling optimistic
  • Being motivated, curious and inspired
  • Having resilience, understanding of your emotions and being able to solve problems
  • Having good relationships, caring for others and being accepted and part of social groups
  • Feeling happiness
  • Having enough income
  • Being able to access health services

Before talking and thinking about the last question of 2007 each of our contributors were reminded of the way we’ve been thinking and talking about health. Then local partners recorded their views on our key questions:

  • What do helping professionals do to help people be healthy and happy? Participants were asked to identify helping professionals they know from across sectors and settings. By thinking and talking about these individuals or teams local people identified actions, approaches or philosophies that enhance individual or community health and happiness.
  • What’s my contribution to my health and happiness? If improving our health and wellbeing can be achieved by any or all of the things listed in the bullet points above... to what extent do our local partners feel able to influence or have control? Having thought about what helping professionals can do through their engagement with individuals and communities the ‘menu’ above gave a framework for local people to reflect on their own contributions to health and happiness. While some of our local partners have little sense of how they can impact on their own health and happiness, other people report some things can be done in some places.

What can helping professionals do to help people be healthy and happy?

Participants were asked to identify helping professionals they know from across sectors and settings. Thinking about these individuals or teams local people identified actions, approaches or philosophies that enhance individual or community health and happiness.

People chose to talk about the following professional workers; for the purposes of reporting back we have grouped some responses about helping professionals together. Below there’s more about what local people identify each does to improve health and happiness.

 

Our local partners talked about helping professionals we have grouped together as community based service professionals. This included workers they knew as: Resource workers; Key workers; Day centre / drop-in centre workers; Community workers

Community-based service professionals can help people to be healthy and happy if they:

Create a safe and welcoming environment

When you come in here it gives you a feeling of security and relaxation, a break from your worries and stress. The worker and the centre make me feel safe – if you’re having a bad day and you’re not coping I end up here.

They’re like a life line – I reckon I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them and I’m sure there’d be a lot of people in the same boat.

Organise a variety of activities

They use lots of different activities to meet different people’s physical health needs.

Reduce isolation and promote inclusion

I think they are helping the neighbourhood because they are supplying a centre that people can come to for help. There’s a social side to it as well, people come from all over. If you’re a person who’s getting isolated it’s good to come and meet people.

She helped me make new friends.

Offer reliable, ongoing support and referrals to other services

He helps solve your problem or puts you onto someone who can help – and there’s so much information here.

She looks out for me a lot, she keeps in touch a lot, by emails and such, informs me about wellbeing events like about spirituality and mental health.

She’s my rock, I can fall on the wayside but she’s always there, on the phone, or she can give you a wee cuddle. If I phone the office and she’s no in, someone else will help.

Are positive, non-judgemental, caring and encouraging

She’s brilliant, she’s positive. She’s not judgmental. She can be pushy but in a good way – I can use a wee shove. She’s very motivating. A very caring person.

There’s no a lot of people you can talk about mental health with. You don’t want to bother anybody else with the depression.

She became my friend. She’s there when I need her.

I was shrinking back from the voluntary work, so we put that to one side and she asked where I’m at. That’s great, I didn’t have to hide it, I could just be honest. It made me feel like it’s alright to feel like that.

Build people’s confidence

They help you overcome your problems by giving you confidence and getting you involved in projects.

She helped me through courses, built my confidence.

Build their own skills – access training for themsleves

I would think it’s a natural ability but he’s taken a lot of courses. He’s very calm and he listens. He must have good organisational skills.

Get out and about and do home visits

They could go out to people’s homes and encourage them to come into the day centre.

Consider all of a person’s needs and provide information

She’s a source of information, like a big encyclopaedia. She’s helped a lot with information about my son and his diagnosis. Things the doctors couldn’t tell me, like about Disability Living Allowance. Psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists – not one of them asked how I was managing financially.

Our local partners talked about helping professionals we have grouped together as mental health professionals. This included workers they knew as: Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPNs); Psychiatrists; Mental health hospital staff and Employment and education mental health project workers.

Mental health professionals can help people to be healthy and happy if they:

Listen to carers

He is dedicated to helping people, he’s on committees that we’re in for people with mental illness and their carers. He feels that carers should be listened to more – the people on the committee never knew the worries, the fears of carers – there was a gasp when they heard what we’ve been through.

They listen to carers more now, before it was force work, I had to push.

Support training for other professionals

I think Fife is improving quite a lot, there’s an awful lot of training going on for mental health issues.

Localise services

It helped our son to visit him and take him out for meals but how can parents visit psychiatric hospitals – we use to travel for four hours at least once a week to visit for four years while they tried out different medication with him.

Have empathy

She understands what it is to have bipolar disorder because she has the illness. So I can identify with her. Although other members of staff know a lot about mental health they don’t have that illness.

Are friendly and offer confidentiality

I used to feel inferior to him, but not now. Talking to him has helped.

Really friendly, really nice. Funny.

You can chat to him like a friend. I’ve had three CPNs and I’ve got on well with all of them. They made me feel relaxed and I know what I’m saying is confidential.

Are competent

She’s very competent. I admire her because she has the illness but she can still hold down the job.

Give enough time

If it’s needed she always puts in extra time.

Because you get more time with him than a psychiatrist you have time to explain how you feel.

You make an appointment to see staff like her, they give you as much time as you need.

Are available and be reliable

My CPN is reliable unlike a psychiatrist who visited me and was often an hour or more late – then would only see you for twenty minutes.

She told me I can phone her anytime, to discuss anything. They’ve always been nice.            

Usually she’s on the other end of the phone if I need her.

He’s reliable – when he says he’s coming at eleven he comes at eleven.

Encourage social interaction

            She encourages me to go out, so I socialise and meet people.

Give practical advice and support

She’ll help people get employment if they want, people know that she can help arrange employment or education.

She makes sure I take my medication.

The first CPN helped me to get rid of the panic attacks I was suffering from.

Inform people about drug side effects

I told him I was having difficulties sleeping, he told me he could give me an anti-psychotic to help me sleep. When I got it home I read all the side-effects and I thought they were worse than the cure. So I flushed them down the toilet. He didn’t tell you about drug side effects. I did a bit of research myself, looked it up in books.

Refer to other services when needed

If there’s a special problem you’ve got and they cannae help you they’ll put you in touch with a special agency to deal with the specific issue you’ve got.

He’s helping me with my alcohol problem by referring me to other professionals.

Let people know that they can have a choice

I saw a psychiatrist for ten years, for twenty minutes once a month. He always asked me “how are we today?” I always felt like saying “I’m ill, that’s why I’m going to see you” but I’m too polite. I felt I was wasting his time and he was wasting mine. He’s pleasant enough but I felt we were getting nowhere. I didn’t know you could see another psychiatrist – my GP told me I could.

 

Health visitors can help people to be healthy and happy if they:

Provide specialist advice and support

If it was something to do with the bairns I’d go to the health visitor before the GP because they have more specialist knowledge about children.

She made me feel a lot better, she helped me with my sons. This made me relieved and
happy.

Are sensitive and knowledgeable about mental health needs

The GP wasn’t any good at the time I had post-natal depression, the GP just wanted to give me medication. The health visitor got me admitted into hospital to see a psychiatrist. When I came out I changed my doctor. I didn’t switch before because it was the family doctor and she knew about my family.

Encourage peer support and refer to other services

A health visitor suggested I start a self-help group with other mums. I didn’t feel so isolated. I still see them – that’s like being pals for eighteen years now.

The health visitor got me onto Gingerbread. That helped me meet different people and we had structured groups about healthy eating and things like that. The worker there got counselling set up for me.

Are alongside you in the longer term

I’d be lost without (this health visitor). I feel I can talk to her about anything because she’s been there through so many stages – separation, moving house, bairns getting bigger.

GPs can help people to be healthy and happy if they:

Spend enough time with you

You can be worrying about the time, the more you feel stressed your mind goes blank.           

They could listen a bit more, they dinnae give enough time. The doctor said “it’s the money” when I asked for a twenty minute appointment so I could talk about my son.

More time to look over your history – this is your life and quality of life.

Spend more time with each patient during consultations.

Take time to listen. Give people more time for their appointment.

I always feel that time is never restricted.

Give more time.

Give people enough time to talk about their problems.

Understand mental health needs

I think because my GP is younger she’s had the training in mental health – my previous doctor used to prescribe me anti-depressants. As he was leaving the practice he said to me “Incidentally I know nothing about mental health.” I nearly fell through the floor. He’d been doling out anti-depressants to me for six years.

My GP is the first stop. She’s put me on to a mental health nursing practitioner. When I tell her something she digests it, she offers practical solutions – not always medication. She reassures me that if I have to take medication it’s OK – but she says the pills won’t solve anything.

Help me deal with depression in a sympathetic way.

Admit not having all the answers, and refer on if necessary

I went to the doctor about food intolerance, he wasn’t willing to find out for me, he said “you can get a book in a library”. He said I was too old for a health visitor to help. He should say “here’s the leaflets”, or “I’ll put you forward to the right people”. He should say “I don’t know the answer but I know somebody that does.”

I’ve been seeing my GP for about ten years, she understands mental health problems. She can refer me to people like psychiatrists, psychotherapists.

If he couldn’t provide the appropriate advice I would want him to refer to someone who could. They should know what’s in the local community so that they can refer you.

Have a role as health promoters

Make local people more health conscious – not just physical health but look after their mental health.

More opportunities for health checks!

Communicate clearly

Cut out fancy medical words.

Are accessible

Doctor surgeries need to have flexible appointments available so that everyone can get the health services they need.

People have to take time off work to go to the doctor, they could miss a whole shift if they are working part-time.

Have enough appointments – sometimes it takes a week or two, unless it’s an emergency.           

It would be helpful to have easier access to appointments.

The surgery is only a fifteen minute walk, but it’s hard to get an appointment unless you are up at eight o’clock.

Provide a creche

A creche in a health centre would help, maybe one day a week to help out single mums.

Do home visits

If you’re on your own, if you’re really ill, it would be good to have a GP visit you at home instead of an ambulance.

Get to know you, build a relationship and treat you with respect

I’d rather wait a week and get an appointment with my own doctor, because I’ve got a relationship with her – for almost fifteen years... She’s that tuned in to me that she can just be honest with me.

It was a real disappointment no to get my usual doctor. It’s important to know patients, to be consistent.

You don’t always get the one you’re registered with. It takes a wee while to find one you gel with.

Our son trusts the doctor, we trust him. We’re familiar with him, we’ve known him thirty odd years – he knows what we’ve been through.

I get ill before I go to the doctor because I’m so nervous about visiting, because of his attitude. I feel intimidated. Their attitude stinks, very uncaring, very unsympathetic – they don’t want to hear it, just so long as they give you a pill to go away with.

My doctor has a nice manner about her – she actually listens to what you’re saying – you don’t feel rushed. She’s getting to know me as a person. She’s the only doctor who’s ever read my whole file (and let me know this). If the other doctors had read the notes before you go in they wouldn’t have to ask questions – they should know. That’s not right.

Treat people with respect. Care for others.

It’s hard to tell someone how bad you feel, it sounds like you’re whining, it’s hard to describe. It’s hard to convince them about mental illness, about depression. I can go to my regular doctor and tell him what’s not working for me – we only talk about prescriptions, never about feelings – but I like that; I needed to talk about feelings when my depression first began.

Nine times out of ten you do feel better when you come out, I never leave the doctor’s feeling as worried as I went in. I feel I can be honest with my doctor. However I only recently started seeing this doctor and I feel more comfortable with her than the others.

Treat me as an individual.

You need to know they’re not just ticking the boxes.

Have local specialist clinics

It would be good to have specialist clinics. They used to have a well-woman clinic here, now you’d have to go to Cowdenbeath.

I can go straight to the phlobotomist from the doctor, which is good because I don’t have to use the GP’s time.

Priests, Ministers and other faith leaders can help people to be healthy and happy if they:

Visit neighbourhoods

More supportive visits to the local community help.

Show an interest in individuals – visit homes

A priest – or other religious person – can visit locals in their homes, not only when they are sick. Showing an interest in you is beneficial to your physical and mental health.

Involve neighbourhoods

Having events involving the community with the church can help unite the community.

Being involved with the church can make a person feel spiritually fulfilled – a happier person.

Dentists can help people to be healthy and happy if they:

Are available and affordable

It’s hard to get registered, they’re in short demand, and a lot are going private – there’s privatisation. Their prices are dear – if you miss an appointment you get charged dear, I heard of a £25 charge – that’s over the top. The government needs to supply more dentists in the NHS.

Treatment should be free for people on benefits.

Have a role as health promoters

You need more information from dentists at schools. Encourage people to stop eating rubbish – cakes, sweets – to eat more healthy foods. Making sure people have cleaned their teeth twice daily.

Promote dental health, also healthy eating in general.

Give people information and advice on caring for your teeth.

Make people feel comfortable

I get very nervous when I’m visiting professionals, I worry I’m wasting their time. It makes a difference when you walk into a place and there’s no-one scowling at you. My dentist, she’s a smiley, positive person. She says “I’m no happy until you’re happy.” She has a laugh with you and makes you feel comfortable.

Be friendly and give reassurance to make patients be more at ease.

Generally they’re well run, well organised and they seem to be nice people – it’s not the people themselves, it’s the system that’s the problem.

Create a relaxing environment

She has a radio on and that helps.

Be open and informative

She’s very informative, she tells you everything she’s doing.

Spend enough time

She doesn’t rush you.

Our local partners talked about helping professionals we have grouped together as youth work specialists. This included workers they knew as: Youth workers; Youth drugs workers; Youth homeless workers; Health improvement workers for young people

Youth work specialists can help people to be healthy and happy if they:

Are respectful, non-judgemental and a good listener

The best thing was even though we were only fourteen we never got treated like a child having a child. She always made me feel happy.

Most of the time she comes down to our level, she’ll get involved with the stuff we do. She interacts with us.

Be approachable. They should not judge and they should make you feel safe.

Be a good communicator. Listen to young people.

Develop good working relationships

Having good relations with the young people can help them be happy about what they are doing.

Lead by example

Being happy and optimistic can encourage other people to be the same.

Promote good eating by doing it themselves or having things like fruit at sessions.

Give enough time

If there was ever a problem she always had time if you had a problem, even if you just needed someone to talk to.

Are accessible

There is crisis support available and I’ve used it sometimes when my keyworker’s not been in.

See young people’s health in the round

They give emotional support.

The worker at the Young Mothers Initiative helped with financial support so I could stay on at school.

I learn about safety, like fire drills.

They help to make you cook.

She encourages me with my diet.

Help young people feel included

Helping people have good relationships, be accepted and part of social groups.

They help me with communication, speaking with others, making friends. I learn how to be with other people - they can help me be a part of the community.

She encourages us to come to the activities group – we do activities like walks, yoga, tai-chi, dance mats.

Encourage peer support

It’s good having someone to turn to and help you to meet and speak to people in similar situations.

They encourage people to learn from each other.

Giving young people something to do

They take me to social events, go bowling, to the pictures... out on walks.

They can instil an interest or hobby for the young people.

Social Workers can help people to be healthy and happy if they:

Inform, advise and empower

A social worker can inform local people what help there is available and how to access help for various issues.

Help people to move on in their lives, to make decisions, make choices – sometimes people feel they don’t have a say in what is going to happen next.

Provide contacts to relevant agencies.

Sensitively inform and support families

In most cases social workers help families by keeping them safe, help families financially and support emotionally. However sometimes they can interfere.

They need to explain to parents why things are changing, such as access – they don’t give enough information.

Develop good, longer term relationships

Having a good relationship with their clients will make people feel better about going to speak to them.

Try and keep the same social worker rather than have four or five to support a person throughout their life.

Spend time to get familiar with local neighbourhoods and community issues

Spend more time with local people and find out what the local issues are.

Have talks with local people making them more aware of help available, discuss local problems and how to deal with them.           

Are positive

Being optimistic will encourage their clients.

Are accessible

You should be able to access social workers locally.

Protect vulnerable people and children

Mustn’t allow children to be in households where drugs are used! Ensure that children are in a safe and cared for environment.

They make people feel safe and cared for.

Our local partners talked about helping professionals we have grouped together as professionals who support people in their homes. This included workers they knew as: Housing Support workers, Home Help staff and Care Workers.

Professionals who support people in their homes can help people to be healthy and happy if they:

Listen in confidence

You can absolutely trust them, you feel you can really talk to them. They understand our son’s illness. And the advice is excellent.

You can talk to your care worker about private things.

They ask you if want to talk about anything and if you no want to they’ll no push you.

Help people get out and about

If you need support to go out then they can help you go out to socialise, to meet with friends, attend appointments or shopping.

They take me to the chemist twice a week to get my tablets. Take me for my shopping and any appointments I need to go to if I need the support.

Tailor day to day support to meet needs

They help people stay in their own homes. They can help with cooking, housework, paying bills.

They help me with the bills and forms. They take time to get to know you and your needs.

Refer to other services

 If you need help then they can give you advice or information about other services.

They’ll call your CPN or somebody else if they can’t help.

Are positive

            Be cheery and happy themselves, I don’t want to hear their woes.

Police officers can help people to be healthy and happy if they:

Are a visible part of the community – building relationships

There’s a need to be more involved at a local level. To be present in the village on a daily basis – on the beat. To be available to communicate with the local people and be more familiar with them on a first name basis.

They come out on the beat, they walk around areas that are more trouble. If you phone them they’ll be there within five minutes. I feel safer just knowing they’re on the other end of the phone. And vans come around with CCTV cameras.

If you’re out and you see a policeman walking on the street it makes you feel safe. There should be more on the streets especially at night.

Get more community police out to watch the streets and build relationships with the community.

There’s a sense of security when the police are there or are on their way – for example if there are a lot of young people at the shop and the police are there people will feel a lot
safer.

Having good relationships with the community will make people be more happy for the police to talk to them.

They’re out and about to give information in the community to give talks and have displays. They’re out there getting noticed – not in the streets – it would be good to have them on the beat, a deterrent even for little problems.

In order to feel safe the police should patrol the streets at night.

Work with young people

Police should encourage youths to be involved in youth clubs to keep them off the streets. Should organise projects for youths to understand the effect they have in communities and encourage them to have a more positive effect. Understand the effects of drugs on themselves and the community.

They came into school and told us how to stay out of trouble – this was helpful.

Work with young people to redirect their energies, their boredom.

Police can talk more in schools about road safety and keeping safe.

Responding to anti-social behaviour
           
Make people feel safe – we called the police when windows were broken by young people and I couldn’t sleep. Police should be controlling it, stop the young people from hanging about drinking, breaking bottles, spraying walls, destroying property – it’s ridiculous the way things are happening.

Are respectful and sensitive

They’re very polite and put you at your ease, they don’t make you feel as if you’re the wrong person – they make me very nervous, but once I’m over that it’s alright – the uniform is quite intimidating but on the other hand it gives you security.

They should treat people the same. Should listen to you. Treat people with respect.

They should be more confidential when coming to the doors – sometimes they don’t ask you on the phone if you want them to come to your door.

Community Wardens can help people to be healthy and happy if they:

Have a bigger presence

There needs to be more of them.

Help keep neighbourhoods clean

They help clean up the area which makes people feel better because it looks nicer.

Help prevent trouble in neighbourhoods

They don’t have the authority of the police but there is less trouble when they’re about which makes people feel safer and happier.

From what I’m aware their relationship with the community is good – I know they do a lot.

It’s good to have them there but they lack the authority of a policeman.

Help young people get involved in constructive things

They are soon going to be supervising football... helping young people to exercise and have something to do. Parents will feel happier knowing that they’re children are playing in a safe environment.

Teachers – working in primary and secondary schools - can help people to be healthy and happy if they:

Are respectful and egalitarian

Treat pupils with respect. Treat all pupils the same – show an interest in all pupils, not just the ones that’s brighter.

Provide opportunities for physical exercise and encourage it

Give more time for physical activities.

Leaflets come home from Active Schools, it’s an awareness thing. It does make you think – like the kids should play outside.

Bring out the best in pupils

            Allow pupils to concentrate more on what they’re good at.

Have disability and mental health training

Training about disabilities and mental health would be good. They should have the information that health professionals have.

Spread learning to families

They sent a sheet home that gives rewards for healthy eating, my son asked me for a salad – and he’s the worst eater!

There’s a citizenship sheet, we have to sign it every time he’s done something good, and he gets a certificate. It’s good to see good behaviour being rewarded.

If improving our health and wellbeing can be achieved by any or all of the following things... to what extent do our local partners feel able to influence or have control?

  • Eating a good diet

  • Exercising

  • Caring for your body

  • Being safe and cared for

  • Having an interest

  • Feeling optimistic

  • Being motivated, curious and inspired

  • Having resilience, understanding of your emotions and being able to solve problems

  • Having good relationships, caring for others and being accepted and part of social groups

  • Feeling happiness

  • Having enough income

  • Being able to access health services

Having thought about what helping professionals can do through their engagement with individuals and communities the ‘menu’ above gave a framework for local people to reflect on their own contributions to health and happiness. While some of our local partners have little sense of how they can impact on their own health and happiness, other people report some things can be done in some places.

Our local partners made the following contributions.

 

Eating a good diet

Some people feel in control of this element of their health/happiness; others would like to make changes

I can eat healthier – five portions of fruit and veg.

I’m eating a lot healthier now because I was diagnosed with diabetes.

Eating good – I already eat quite healthy but could improve.

My wife’s into healthy eating so we have a balanced diet, she gets organic fruit and veg.

I go to my slimming world class, that helps with my eating.

I’m eating well, eating fruit and vegetables.

For others this remains a struggle

I know what I should be eating, but a lot of it is comfort eating, it’s the short highs. I could make a cautious effort to change my diet and eating habits.

I try to eat healthy, but sometimes I eat sweets – but I am eating fruit sometimes. 

Exercising

Some people make real efforts to introduce exercise into their routine, even when ill health has an impact:

I do water aerobics. I’m going to go to swimming lessons.

I try and do as much exercise as I can, but my health problems keep that at bay.

I take physical exercise daily.

I keep as active as possible in the house, like doing light dusting, preparing snacks.

I bowl so that gives me plenty of exercise, and I enjoy it because I like meeting up with the people that go.

While the benefits of exercise were recognised, and occasionally felt, committing to regular exercise is hard because of other factors:

Exercise has got to be the best, especially for mental health. Me and my dad would go for a cycle after the kids were away. That was me picked up for the day. It’s hard to get motivated, you only get a bit of time to yourself a day, the last thing you want to do is exercise.

I could do more exercise, I have to do more walking. I’d like to join a gym but again it comes down to the money.

Exercise – walk more. But it’s hard to get motivation, I have to get motivated.

Some contributors recognised that more would be better:

More exercise would help.

Take part in more activities like fencing, line-dancing, swimming and badminton.

Caring for your body

Several people have strategies to care for themselves:

Care for my body, how I look, I’m aware of my body changing and developing

I’ve stopped smoking hash.

I don’t do drugs. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink.

I try and get sufficient sleep!

I go for usual health checks and don’t put off visiting the GP!

Being safe and cared for

Reflecting our last question and theme, on feeling safe at home, contributors again recognised how important this is; and how others can either undermine or support a sense of safety and being cared for:

At the moment I feel safe in my new home, in my own environment... although if my parents come to the house I would phone the police. But I also have support workers living in the house.

It’s important to me that I have people that care, who are there to look after me.

Having an interest

This contribution towards health and happiness certainly works for some people:

Having a job makes me happy because at one time no-one would have taken anyone on with a learning disability. It gives me a choice to let people see exactly what I can do.

I like coming to the club and being involved in the newsletter. Poetry helps me get my thoughts down in black and white – it’s therapeutic.

Some people have aspirations:

I try and get more me time even half and hour a day. I have no time for hobbies or myself – I’m always busy and can’t get motivated.

Others must manage limiting conditions:

I have had a go at voluntary work but it didn’t work out for me because of my health problems. There’s lots of things I’d like to do but I’m restricted by my health – if I do too much I get a lot of pain and I seize up.

Feeling optimism and being motivated

Local people recognise these can be supported or undermined by others; and that there is a need to be connected:

I think more positively about things. If I feel negative I cannae feel motivated. I can get rid of all the negative people around me.

It would help to feel better about the future, to sort problems out.

I have a positive outlook on life.

College helps, knowing I will be what I want to be.

I keep positive and motivated and try hard.

It would help to be more settled and go back to the things that I like doing, like going back to my volunteer work.

Having resilience

Contributors recognise the value of self, self confidence and assertiveness

I think more about my needs and not doing things to please people all the time.    

I could listen to myself a wee bit more, if someone else tells me something I think they’re right.

I need to have more control over everyday things, recently I’ve stood up to say “no I want to do it my way.”

Not be so hard on myself, I’m really hard on myself, I’m feeling guilty on a daily basis. I’ve  got to pep talk myself, it’s like Groundhog Day in the morning, I try to keep it on a positive.

Again, being connected matters:

I keep my mind healthy – I talk to people, to the folk in community groups. I can’t control my teenagers but I can control some things in my life – it’s my choice to be involved in community groups.

Being organised and recognising stress and worry helps:

I prioritise things – concentrate on getting a couple jobs done a day.

I try to keep my stress levels down, try not to get myself into situations that cause me stress. There’s the breathing techniques you do and calming thoughts, thinking of something nice.    

I need to stop worrying about my son. There isn’t anything I can do to stop it. I think worrying makes your pains worse, arthritis pains.

Being resilient also means knowing when to seek help:

You need to be honest and seek help when you need it.

I could ask for help or support when it’s needed.

Having good relationships

Positive personal relationships are important

Having friends and family make me feel happy and safe knowing they will be there for you or to make you feel good about yourself.

I’m in a relationship and that keeps me happy.

I maintain good relationships with my family and I can be a support to them. I still have a role to play, I’m not a dependent.

For people who are connected to others the benefits are substantial. Good relationships can come from involvement in community groups:

I’m involved in community groups – a woman’s group, a family group, community centre management committee and I run the mothers and toddlers group. I feel I’m taking an active part in my son’s life. it’s rewarding, it makes you feel needed, appreciated. And the social side of it as well, I’ve made close friends.

I go to the youth drop-in centre; I’ve met a few friends here. I help with the newsletter.

I like talking to other members in the club – these are things that help my mental health – it’s a safe place and it has a code of conduct.

I go to the day centre

Others want to get re connected

Going back to college would make me happy – seeing my friends, getting courses sorted out. I want to spend time with my friends.

Honesty and openness matter

Telling people what I’m going through helps me tremendously.

Feeling happiness

Be cheery, smile more. Laughter is a good tonic.

The health and wellbeing of our family makes me happy.

Feeling happy – that will come one day.

I feel young and bubbly, I’m seventy-nine. I can giggle and moan – laughter’s good.

Try and laugh lots and be positive.

Having enough income

Reflecting an earlier question in our study money and managing financially can be a challenge

If I can just keep on top of debt...

I need to try and save some money.

Contributors see that being in employment would help

It would help to look for a job once I get more settled.

I need to find a job.

Some people work long hours alongside family responsibilities:

I could work less, I’d like to be less drained and fed up.

I could prioritise my work load, try not to get stressed! Manage time effectively and have some me time! I could delegate tasks to other family members – it’s not just down to me to do all the housework. Have a holiday and switch off from work.

Being able to access health services

When benefit entitlements are in place there can be some security

My Disability Living Allowance and Incapacity benefits have made me a lot more secure in my life and that’s reduced stress and worries.

What implications are there for regeneration activity – either in terms of policy or practice of service providers – from our conversations about who can help with health and happiness?

The thoughts from local people about specific helping professionals indicate that, for each, there is a role in building individual and community health and happiness. Secondly, the reflections from local people about their own contribution to their health and happiness indicate a good understanding of what health and happiness means to people – but that getting there can be a struggle. Here are some questions for the regeneration partners:

  • Do the regeneration partners have a shared understanding of health and happiness, its determinants and what can be done to influence it?
  • Does the ‘menu’ of contributors toward health and happiness which were listed earlier – from eating a good diet to being able to access health services – help regeneration partners find their place in a holistic and strategic approach to enhancing health and happiness for individuals, families, groups and whole neighbourhoods?
  • Does regeneration activity encourage groups of professionals across settings and sectors (including those who might not traditionally perceive they have such a role) to reflect on their role in building health and happiness?
  • Are there continuing professional development opportunities and inputs to initial professional training through which this shared responsibility for building and enhancing health and happiness can be promoted and better understood?
  • Is it possible to build on small gains and opportunities to encourage individuals, families, groups and whole neighbourhoods toward making bolder steps toward improved health and happiness – if it is, how do we do it?
  • How have the insights into the day to day lives of our study participants reported on across the last two years been received and used to inform both day to day practice and more strategic thinking and planning by all partners about health and happiness?
  • How can every helping professional in Fife be encouraged to think and act on this question: What am I doing today to make Fife a healthier, happier place?
  • How can every local person, particularly those living in targeted regeneration areas, be encouraged to think and act on this question: What am I doing today to contribute toward my health and happiness?
  • When it comes to making the health and happiness of individuals, families, groups and communities everyone’s core business: are we there yet?