Power – a health issue!

In our latest blog Elinor Dickie and Emma Doyle of NHS Health Scotland explore how power, and how it is shared between individuals, communities and statutory bodies, can affect health inequalities. 

Unequal distributions of power, income and wealth are the fundamental causes (or the main causes) of health inequalities. At NHS Health Scotland, we know a lot about how having, or not having, income and wealth impacts on our health, but we are just starting to explore the relationship between power and health. Unlike money or wealth, power does not belong to any one person, but exists in the relationships between people and groups of people. We know that those who have power over their lives and the environments in which they live are likely to have better physical, mental, and social well-being. So power is protective of health.

We’ve defined power as the ability to act in a particular way, as a capacity, shared resource or relation. It is a complex concept which includes the ability or capacity to do (or not to do) something and to exercise influence or control in a variety of different ways. People may have power in some situations, such as at home, but less power in others, such as at work or in their community.

If you have power, you are more able to make or influence the decisions that affect aspects of your life, such as where you live and where your children go to school. You are more likely to understand choices available to you and have some confidence that you can make your voice heard in decisions that relate to you and to the community in which you live. When you are able to do this, it seems normal. You might not even recognise it as power.

 However, if you don’t have power, you are likely to feel this lack of control in many parts of your life. You may feel that your voice goes unheard, or is not valued or respected, or that others know better and you will have little sense of control, even over the things that are important to you. People who do not have power may have limited choices, may not be able to make informed decisions and may not get the services that they need.

This means that empowering people at the individual, community and national level is necessary to improve health and wellbeing and to tackle disadvantage and inequality. So how do we do this?

One way is to think about power as a fluid resource, not a limited one. There are many different sources of power, positions of power, and spaces or levels where power is exercised. Understanding this helps us to identify where there may be opportunities to tackle inequalities in how power is distributed. For example, where can power be shared, where can it be ceded and where can it be claimed? We can start by understanding human relationships – who holds power over a certain matter? What influences them? Who or what do they listen to – research evidence? Public opinion? Corporate interests? We are all part of a complex social and political system in which power is exercised to advantage some groups over others.

We need to work with individuals and groups, as well as with the processes and structures that determine the interaction between communities and the state. It’s for us to think about our role in the system and how we can use our power to bring about change.

The Community Empowerment Act is an important new piece of Scottish legislation with opportunities to reduce health inequalities, giving communities greater control through the redistribution of power –  but that depends on us really understanding what power is and where power lies. In partnership with Glasgow Centre for Population Health, we have produced a new animation which explores these issues further.

It’s time for all of us to be part of creating a fairer, healthier Scotland.

Podcast: Creative Competition 2016 – Maureen

Meet some of our Creative Competition entrants:

In the first of a series of Creative Competition themed podcasts, we meet Maureen as she shares her poem ‘Scotland’s Unpaid Carers – A (Scottie) Dogs Life?’, her entry to to the Creative Competition 2016, Voices of the Experts.

Maureen talks about her involvement with Renfrewshire Carers Centre, and the source of support it has been to her in her role as an unpaid carer for her husband. Re-discovering her creative talents through the centre’s arts and crafts group, Maureen crafts beautiful felt Scottie dogs, paints and has taken up writing poetry again. Utilising her creativity has been a helpful outlet and as Maureen describes ‘therapeutic’.

scottie-dog
Scottie Dogs made by Maureen at the Renfrewshire Carers Centre
maureen
Maureen with one of her paintings

A Sense of Belonging – Jo McFarlane

In this poem Jo highlights growing levels of inequality across Scotland. The recent Academy thinkpiece “The Right to Health” considered health inequalities across Scotland and how to tackle them.

In “A Sense of Belonging” Jo urges us all to not leave tackling inequalities to the politicians and managers. We all have a responsibility for social justice and we all have a stake in a healthy, flourishing Scotland.

Read More “A Sense of Belonging – Jo McFarlane”

Voice of Experts

I was delighted to be invited to the ALLIANCE’s annual conference celebrating the 10th birthday of this tremendous organisation. As a representative for The Spark Counselling – a leading third sector provider of counselling and relationship support services – we recognise the vital importance of the ALLIANCE. Shaping and influencing the agenda for those with disabilities, those with long term conditions and their unpaid carers has never been so critical in Scotland. Read More “Voice of Experts”

Ffion’s Story

Dear Tommy

On Monday the 7th March I talked to the children and teachers at my school in our school assembly, I told them about your work, your lovey mum and your #Tommyontour. I also showed them one for my personalised dementia pledge trees. I have been making these pledge trees for my mummy’s work friends I make a different one for each person, I put their name on it and l do my signature, the person then writes their own pledge on the tree. I hope my trees make a difference to people who live with dementia.

My lovely pops (grandad) had dementia and l would like more people to undgrandaderstand dementia and always be nice to people with it, my pops always put his thumb up when things were OK. He was so kind he would give some of his food to his favourite blackbird the blackbird visited every meal time. My mummy misses pops a lot.

Here is a photo of my mummy with pops his thumb is up.

From, Ffion Age 9 from Shropshire.

To find out more about how to make a pledge visit the ALLIANCE’s Dementia Carer Voices website

The Power of Prevention: Money doesn’t grow on trees…

The latest event in the Academy’s Integration Series, The Power of Prevention, took place on Monday 25th January. A diverse range of delegates from across sectors came together at the Serenity Cafe in Edinburgh and fuelled by some delicious haggis, neeps and tatties (it was Burns’ Night after all) we set about exploring the cost effectiveness of preventative approaches to health and wellbeing.

Read More “The Power of Prevention: Money doesn’t grow on trees…”

The Power of Prevention

Time and again, we hear that preventative projects work and yet nothing changes and resources continue to be targeted at acute care.The integration of health and social care services provides us with a unique opportunity to rethink how best to meet the needs of communities across Scotland, and importantly to embed the values of prevention and anticipation into the commissioning of support and services.

This event, held in partnership with the Serenity Café, will:

– Show how cost-effective preventative approaches are in comparison to crisis response

– Challenge attendees to put their money where their mouth is and decide which services to invest in given a pot of money

– Highlight one innovative example of funding outcome-focused preventative work: Perth and District YMCA’s social impact bond

Please email event@alliance-scotland.org.uk to register your space.

Report on the Buurtzorg Model of Health and Social Care

The Health and Social Care Academy is delighted to be able to share this Report on the Buurtzorg Model of Health and Social Care. The Buurtzorg Model is an innovative model of care provision pioneered by former community nurse and manager Jos de Blok, which now provides care to 70,000 individuals in the Netherlands.

It is a truly person centred form of care, based on fostering human connections and supporting the individual to flourish within their community. It has also minimised bureaucracy and maximised trust and thereby the quality of care provided.

Read More “Report on the Buurtzorg Model of Health and Social Care”

National Conversation on a healthier Scotland – East Lothian

The ALLIANCE and STRiVE would like to invite you to a Conversation Café hosted in partnership with the Health and Social Care Academy.

This pop up café will be held in the Eskmills Function Suite (Musselburgh) on 07.12.2015, 12:30-16:00 (Arrival/Registration: 12:30pm, Event Start:1pm).

The conversation café is an opportunity for citizens to engage with each other and share their views on:

  • What is needed to help you live well in the future?
  • What support do we need in Scotland to live healthier lives?

Following the Cabinet Secretary’s announcement at our recent Citizen Wellbeing Assembly of a National Conversation on creating a healthier Scotland, the café will provide an opportunity for constructive conversations around health and wellbeing which will form part of a dialogue on the future of health and social care in Scotland.

The ALLIANCE is committed to working with Scottish Government to ensure that all voices are heard, especially seldom heard voices and those of people with lived experience. Your views matter and are key to the conversation. This is the first of a series of events across Scotland to give a voice to those who use support and services.

To register you place please click here or for more information email academy@alliance-scotland.org.uk.

National Conversation on a Healthier Scotland – Angus

The ALLIANCE and Voluntary Action Angus would like to invite you to a Conversation Café hosted in partnership with the Health and Social Care Academy.

This pop up café will be held at the Reid Hall, Castle Street, Forfar DD8 3AE on Wednesday 2 December 2015, 11.00am – 1.30pm.

The conversation café is an opportunity for citizens to engage with each other and share their views on:

  • What is needed to help you live well in the future?
  • What support do we need in Scotland to live healthier lives?

Following the Cabinet Secretary’s announcement at our recent Citizen Wellbeing Assembly of a National Conversation on creating a healthier Scotland, the café will provide an opportunity for constructive conversations around health and wellbeing which will form part of a dialogue on the future of health and social care in Scotland.

The ALLIANCE is committed to working with Scottish Government to ensure that all voices are heard, especially seldom heard voices and those of people with lived experience. Your views matter and are key to the conversation. This is the first of a series of events across Scotland to give a voice to those who use support and services.

To register for the event please click here. 

Please help us share details of this event.  If you have any questions please call 0141 404 0231