Ground-breaking Argyll group scoops health award

The initiative was recognised at the Scottish Health Awards, hosted online. Pictured from left are Kate Paton, Ian Asher, Angela Wilson and Heather Grier.

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The chief officer of Argyll’s health services has said she is ‘so proud’ of the ‘excellent work’ carried out by a community health hub as it scooped the region’s only prize at last week’s Scottish Health Awards.

Inspired by an idea by Kate Paton, practice nurse at Strachur Medical Practice, and set up in 2016, the Strachur Hub has been an unqualified success in improving the health and well-being of elderly and vulnerable people on the eastern shores of Loch Fyne.

Its overall aims are to help older people live independent lives at home for longer; reduce social isolation; improve quality of life; provide respite to carers; improve mobility and prevent falls.

With a £12,800 grant from Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership’s (HSCP) integrated care fund, the group was set up by Mrs Paton with help from Heather Grier, Ian Asher and a group of dedicated volunteers.

An initial estimate of 16 people attending turned out to be a little off the mark, with around 45 now coming along each week, pre-Covid.

With Strachur Medical Practice covering an area from Cairndow to Glendaruel and Loch Eck, the hub has worked with other groups such as Cowal Elderly
Befrienders and Interloch Transport, with support from GPs, to enhance its service.

Activities have been on offer such as strength/balance and Thai Chi classes, Boccia sessions, with a lunch provided for attendees each week.

There have also been courses on such diverse subjects as diabetes management; chronic pain management; falls prevention through exercise; mindfulness; conversational French; first aid, defibrillator and CPR training; choral singing; and country dancing.

A 2018 independent assessment of the hub by medical student Fiona McKirdy revealed that 80 per cent of attendees said it had given them more confidence.

Not only that, but of the 79 per cent of responders with long term conditions – including COPD, heart problems and hypertension – eight out of 10 said their health had improved since joining the Hub.

Three quarters said they felt less lonely and isolated, with two thirds reporting an improvement in their mood. Every responder reported an improved quality of life and would recommend the hub to friends.

And, since joining the hub, the number of falls among those attending dropped from 34 to just three, a reduction of 91 per cent.

At last week’s ‘virtual’ Scottish Health Awards 2020, Strachur Hub received the Healthier Lifestyle Award.

Heather said: ‘Thank you to the whole team involved at the Strachur Hub. A fantastic achievement and recognition of the excellent work we have done, the support we are giving during this pandemic – and how we look forward to getting together in the future.’

Argyll and Bute Caring for People Team was a finalist in the People’s Choice award category.

The Scottish Health Awards are the most prestigious and recognised awards for those working across NHS Scotland and its partners.

Joanna MacDonald, chief officer for Argyll and Bute HSCP, said: ‘I am delighted that the team at Strachur Hub won the Healthier Lifestyle Award at this year’s Scottish Health Awards.

‘They do a fantastic job and this award is a well-deserved recognition of the excellent work they are carrying out within their local community.

‘They are making a real positive difference to the lives of the people using the service and we are so proud of them.’