Sense of community permeates the peninsula
David Johnstone, director of social services at Devon Council describes the issues faced by care services in the South West:
One of the attractions to living and working in the South West is the strong sense of community. The region mainly consists of a series of small rural communities and is not dominated by many large towns or cities. This tends to give a strong sense of community awareness and support.
We face complex health and social care needs, especially from an ageing population and people with complex health needs.
You’ve got to be creative and think laterally when statutory services are few and far between.
This approach is very much in line with the empowering people agenda which places more emphasis on self-help and stronger communities. We haven’t made as much use of that as we should have so this is an important priority.
People can be traditional in their attitudes which can create strong reactions if you want to develop less institutional models of care… It takes time and energy to work through that, but in most cases we and the community want to achieve exactly the same end.
I used to live and work in a city. But here I enjoy the greater sense of community as well as the physical environment. There is a transition to living and working in the South West – it takes time to acclimatise.
Many of the care challenges we face are the same as elsewhere, whether they be in the urban or rural environments.
Finding solutions requires us to be creative and flexible. It is very rewarding when it falls into place.