Ellen Devine, Healthwatch Bristol Project Coordinator, writes about her experience of the Bristol Health and Care Awards 2016. This is part of a series of blogs, where key players in Bristol's health sector write about a health related subject of their choice. If you want to contribute, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A young person recently contacted me to ask if Healthwatch Bristol was interested in positive feedback about health and social care services as well as comments about things people aren't happy with. "Yes!" I replied adding that so often the things that are good about health services get taken for granted and not commented on and yet it is so important to recognise the good things as well as the not so good.
It can be easy to get dragged down by the bad news stories, the examples of services not being good enough and fear of decreasing resources and increasing demand. Yet, whenever I ask (in my day job with Healthwatch Bristol or just in conversations with friends) what people appreciate about the health services they use, the answer is nearly always in praise of the doctor, nurse, volunteer, porter, social worker, receptionist, health care assistant who smiled at them, who made them feel special, who took the time to lift their spirits during a difficult time.
The Bristol Health Awards, which took place on 10 March, was a celebration of the people working in health in Bristol. From individuals such as Dr Alan Whone, a neurologist at the Bristol Brain Centre, who won the 'Outstanding Achievement Award' and Derek Dominey, a volunteer who supports people with dementia in Bristol and who won the 'Volunteer of the Year' award, to organisations such as Wellspring Healthy Living Centre which took the 'Healthy Neighbourhood Award' and projects such as Energise – Exercise Based Cancer Rehab based at Easton Leisure Centre which was awarded the 'Together We Achieve Award', all the nominees and winners demonstrated how much passion, enthusiasm, compassion and brilliance health services in Bristol offer, day in, day out. This energy was captured brilliantly by Inspire Me who surprised everyone with a singing flash mob and the awards host, Dr Phil Hammond, who injected both humour and wisdom into the evening, including advising everyone to ensure they get their 'five portions of fun' per day (as well as five portions of fruit and vegetables) and to learn from the Clangers, yes you read that right, the Clangers.....
The Bristol Health Awards allowed me to achieve (nearly) all of the elements of a Dr Phil Clanger: I connected with people I had never met before; I learnt things about people I had met before that I didn't know and found out about projects and services I was previously unaware of; if you count walking around in high heels, I was very active (!); I noticed the smiles on the faces of the people collecting awards; we gave back by raising money for the Grand Appeal; we ate well as we shared a meal together; and I surprised myself by being able to relax in a social situation which involved food (something which as a person with a history of anorexia is an achievement and perhaps a reflection of the welcoming and accepting atmosphere created by the people attending the awards).
As I left the awards and headed home, I decided that I would do my utmost to hold onto the positivity of the evening and reflected on how vital it is that the health and social care system looks after its staff and volunteers, as well as its patients and service users, so that their wellbeing, their ability to channel a Dr Phil Clanger, is ensured. For, if the health system is to be sustainable, we must take the time to recognise and value the people working within it, not only for one night of awards, but always.@EllenDevine7