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Listening well - a skill for life

Date: 18 January 2022
Author: Cllr Piers Allen
Title: Chair of the Adult Social Services, Health and Housing Services Committee and Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board

The Council's Public Health team have recently published their latest version of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), an evidence-informed assessment of the health, care and wellbeing needs of the community.

It is used to inform strategic priorities, as well as future service planning and commissioning, and will be an invaluable local resource as the Health & Wellbeing Board develop their new Joint Heath and Wellbeing Strategy later this year. If you only have time to read one section of JSNA, I would highly recommend reading the Overview.

The JSNA makes use of the Life Course elements as major themes - Start Well, Live Well and Age Well - a structure also made use of in the draft version of Richmond's refreshed Health and Care Plan 2022–2024, which went out for consultation at the end of last year and which is currently being finalized for approval by the Health and Wellbeing Board in March 2022.

The 'vision' of the refreshed Health and Care Plan is:

"We want people of all ages to remain as healthy as they can for as long as they can. This refreshed Health and Care Plan describes this vision, priorities, objectives and outcomes to help us meet the health and care needs of local people and deliver improvements in their health and wellbeing."

One important approach is to promote self-care interventions, tools which support the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health (or care) worker, according to the World Health Organization.

One skill in this armoury of tools we all need to attend to and continually hone is the that of Listening Well, the art (and science) of empathic understanding. But at its simplest, it can just be about making time to reach out to and connect with family, friends, colleagues and loved ones. This is the simple but powerful concept behind #Brew Monday, the campaign promoted by the Samaritans, as a reminder to everyone "to reach out for a cuppa and a catch-up with the people you care about".

Brew Monday in 2022 is 17 January, and this year's Brew Monday page has a great section on How to be a Good Listener, including tips on helping someone open up when something’s up and what to do if you think someone is struggling and needs help - something the Council also covers in its Five ways to wellbeing.

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Updated: 17 March 2022