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May 21, 2014

The healthy option

The population of Oban and surrounding area have had to face an unsettling fact. 40% of the community have been living with some kind of chronic medical complaint. Whether or not that is anything like close to the national average, a group of local people decided that it was nonetheless wholly unacceptable for the quality of so many people’s lives to be diminished in this way. Even more so when they realised that a big part of the solution lay within the community.


To read a copy of the full report click here

Oban has one medical practice, the Lorn Medical Centre (LMC) which, at the time of planning Healthy Options had just over 10,000 patients of whom 3,800 – 4,000 had a chronic medical condition/s. Almost 40% of people in our community are affected -these are our work colleagues, friends, neighbours, relatives, and family members. Shocking as that statistic is the positive message is that these conditions can be improved or control managed by adopting an active healthy lifestyle. That was our challenge – to improve the wellbeing of ‘our 40%’ and for Oban and Lorn to become a more active, fitter, healthier community.

Healthy Options was our response to these health problems prevalent in our area. In developing the concept and throughout the pilot we became ever conscious of the national concerns and the policies that have developed in recent years. It encourages us knowing that our work dovetails with policy from national through to Argyll & Bute Community Health Partnership objectives and is, in our own small way, helping to address the nation’s health issues.

As community activators we believe in the saying ‘ifthere is a problem in the community then the answeris in the community’. Completing the 2-year pilot has strengthened this belief, we live in a healthy environment, we have well developed community resources and valuable community assets, we have strong social networks and an inbuilt community resilience to ‘just do it’.

This 2-year pilot has proved that we can meetthis challenge, we now view this as our responsibility. Healthy Options has great potential for the community to pull together by volunteering and assisting others going onto and through their programme/s. This was demonstrated from the client questionnaire where 30 respondents through the programme indicated they were interested in volunteering to help others. Healthy Options has also been a vehicle for change and improvement in how NHS departments and health professionals within the departments interact with each other and with the community they serve.

We would like to thank those organisations which have funded the 2 year pilot project. Leader funding was matched by The Robertson Trust, Awards for All, Oban CommonGood Fund, Lloyds TSB, West Highland Housing Association and the Susan H Guy Charitable Trust and another one off local source was secured which enabled us, in the second year,to increase the range of services to clients.

We are extremely grateful for the interim funding provided through Elaine Garman – NHS Highland Public Health Specialist Argyll and Bute to tide us over from the end of Leader funding to the end of 31st March 2014.

Whilst everyone involved in Healthy Options has made a considerable contribution there is no doubt the debt we owe to our staff and principally Project Manager – Andrea James for her dedicated service allied to her caring and professional approach to all the clients.

We now enter a period of uncertainty as we do not believe this work, addressing health issues prevalent in our society and extending the work of the NHS into our community, can be made sustainable in the longer term without considerable input from government. Current funds will run out by the end of June 2014. It is with the certain knowledge of the value of this project that we welcome any discussions with all interested parties on securing a sustainable future.

Please enjoy our report – I encourage you to read the case studies, they are a powerful advocate for Healthy Options.

To read a copy of the full report click here