You can use your experiences, good or bad, to become a great community champion. Nicola, who developed the community champions training course, shares a recent health experience to explain how.
I have been experiencing pain in my right leg; I am sure you are now wondering what this has to do with Stockport Community Champion training.
A few years back I developed lymphedema as a result of treatment for cancer. It is a swelling in my right leg, and quite frankly right now it’s sore. Last week, I went to my regular MacMillan appointment where they were concerned that the increased swelling might be down to something a bit more than Christmas indulgence. I was sent to urgent care. That’s a scary name for a department that I didn’t even know existed until that day.
At urgent care I was triaged within about 15 minutes by a lovely nurse who explained my blood pressure to me. Turns out it was okay, and I am taking that as a win! She told me that they needed to rule out a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), therefore I would need some blood tests.
A few minutes later another nurse called me in for bloods. Again, this was a really pleasant exchange, where he referred to me as a “good bleeder”; I’ll take a compliment where I find one! Finally, the doctor told me that my bloods indicated no DVT, but she was “concerned” so I was sent for a Doppler ultrasound scan.
From the above I want you to hold onto that word “concerned”, because this is the first aspect we can look at as a Community Champion.
As morning turned to afternoon, the friendliness of the people I encountered diminished with the daylight. My Doppler scan was excruciating, and I couldn’t stop my eyes from streaming. There wasn’t any compassion from Stuart who performed the scan; his badge read “Hello. My name is Stuart”, but he didn’t take the time to tell me this. How sad that people need to be reminded to introduce themselves when performing a procedure, and to be nice. Stuart continued to look for red and blue patterns on his screen, finally stating I didn’t have a DVT and was free to go; this is the second aspect we will look at.
Lastly, I wandered round the hospital looking for a car park pay meter that took card payment because all took coins (in a Covid era!). It turned out the only machine accepting card payment was next to the Maternity department. I had to walkthrough the one place I dread the most: Not Oncology, or Pathology, but Maternity. I had my womb removed because of Cancer; being in such proximity to a Maternity ward is hard for me and something I avoid at all costs. Third aspect we will address.
So, there we have it! My mixed bag day and lots to take away and consider, now that I know I don’t have a DVT and just a painful leg… 1. Scary words like “concerned”. 2. People who make you cry and show no compassion. 3. Rubbish logistics that causes unnecessary hurt and could be fixed quickly.
The Community Champions course, developed by Starting Point and Stockport College, uses Community Organising principles to focus on health.
We look at:
▪ What impacts health and well-being in communities (including an exploration of the 5 ways to wellbeing).
▪ Understanding power and influence in relation to an individual’s health and well-being, in particular during Covid times.
▪ A realisation of the different actions someone can take to raise awareness and gather people together around health issues.
▪ An exploration of your next steps as a Community Champion
Or to be specific, we give you the ideas, skills, and energy to:
1. Bring local people together who are going through the same things, to share the expertise they have learnt through their experiences, to understand some of thewords that medical people use.
2. Challenge the way things are done and ask people like Stuart to think about that woman lay on the bed crying in pain while he scans her leg.
3. Simply point out that some machines aren’t working and why that impacts people. I honestly believe there aren’t too many Stuarts in this world and if the maintenance teams knew about the faults and peoples’ stories, they would get those machines fixed.
Stockport Community Champions are volunteers who initially help their communities recover from the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as helping to improve health and wellbeing. By finding out what people and communities need to help them recover and feeding it back, they can also help to shape services in the future.
They also have a role to play beyond the pandemic, as I hope I have highlighted above. We are especially looking for people with a strong existing network of community connections who want to play their part in keeping those around them safe and healthy. The training is free, interactive and thought provoking and I would love to see you there… once I’ve stopped limping.
Nicola – Stockport Community Champions Trainer, Starting Point
You can book onto the next course for free by filling in the booking form below: