This is such a feel-good post to cheer one up on how a town in Somerset realised the ill effects of loneliness, isolation had and combated the perceived causes head-on.
The Compassionate Frome project was launched in 2013 by Helen Kingston, a GP there. She kept encountering patients who seemed defeated by the medicalisation of their lives: treated as if they were a cluster of symptoms rather than a human being who happened to have health problems. Staff at her practice were stressed and dejected by what she calls “silo working”.
So, with the help of the NHS group Health Connections Mendip and the town council, her practice set up a directory of agencies and community groups.
Of course, the effects were obvious, there to be seen for all.
Helen Kingston reports that patients who once asked, “What are you going to do about my problem?” now tell her, “This is what I’m thinking of doing next.” They are, in other words, no longer a set of symptoms, but people with agency.
This really made me stop and ponder on where we, as community, have reached. I remember way early in my schooling days I was taught that human is a social animal. Slowly amidst the hustle of the life, driven may be by an overly cynical narrative floating all-around, the definition of being social has completely changed.
I remember when I was living with my parents, we used to plan visits to all our friends and relatives when they were not doing well. I used to question then why should you add misery to their already miserable state by being there and making them host guests. My grandfather had explained once, “They are down, and they need people around them to lift them up — more mentally than physically. Hospitals are only paid to take care of the later. It’s the former that is equally necessary and effective.”
I feel we are being deliberately obtuse to not understand that a dull, shallow “get well soon” message rarely affects. Agree, it may lend a moment of tickle. But it is the social contact that has a chance to heal one completely, not a social message.