Introduction by Professor Marcus Longley, Director of WIHSC and Professor of Applied Health Policy
This week we are delighted to welcome Dr Ruth Hall as our guest blogger, in the 20 blogs for 20 years series celebrating WIHSC 20th birthday. In addition to various senior public appointments, Ruth is the joint Chair of the Mid Wales Healthcare Collaborative – her co-chair was last week’s blogger. As a former Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Ruth has a wealth of experience in health policy, as well as a lifelong commitment to making Wales a healthy country for its citizens.
Riding the wave of success
Many congratulations to WIHSC, this year celebrating their 20th anniversary, an excellent reason for those directly involved to rejoice and for the rest of us, caught on the wave of WIHSC’s achievement, also to celebrate.
We should be celebrating successes much more regularly, not just the significant landmarks but the everyday milestones. As well as giving credit where it’s due, it enables a wider audience to enjoy the warmth and satisfaction of reflected glory. This particularly applies to the NHS where there’s much missed opportunity to contribute to wellbeing in this way. We hear big research developments reported nationally but only sporadic echoes of the many outstanding day to day clinical achievements. Clinicians and practitioners naturally get a personal kick out of things that go well and from achieving aspirations, but this effect is magnified when shared.
The importance of wellbeing in everyday life and as a positive promoter of health is not in doubt. People in mid Wales, asked what upsets their wellbeing, often refer to loneliness and isolation. Granted this is a rural area, but evidence points to the same issue undermining urban communities. Not just engaging, but involving people in planning and development of health and social care, gives them chance to share directly in achievements and this itself has to be good for health; we need to be proactive in making sure everyone knows about the successes as well as the problems.
A welcome development, fully acknowledged in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, is acceptance that outdoor activity and recreation can bring significant capital in wellbeing and health. It is also bringing increasing economic capital to Wales with the development of new recreation opportunities – adding zip-wiring across quarries, zorbing, mountain boarding, kite surfing and cliff-hanging camping to our longstanding traditions of mountain walking, rock climbing and caving.
It’s interesting that adrenaline-fuelled highs are now sought widely as ‘recreation’ which, in less generally sedentary eras, used to be a term more often equated with rest and recuperation. One of the traditional images of Wales from earlier times is of tranquil, green space where one might reflect and switch off. We lose this at our peril; not everything valuable in life is a commodity and it’s important that some profits also remain personal.
In Wales we have lots to be thankful for; and we can justifiably ride the wave of success and celebrate as WIHSC moves on to its next 20 years.
Well done WIHSC!
Dr Ruth Hall