Report of the Director of Public Health.
The Sub-Committee noted that the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy was a statutory requirement, which set the strategic objectives and focus for the Joint Health and Wellbeing Board to address the health and wellbeing needs of the population of Harrow. The Strategy was for a five year period from 2020 – 2025 and would be signed off by the Board in March 2020.
The Director of Public Health introduced the report and reported that there was a statutory requirement for local partnerships to prepare a Strategy to help improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Harrow. The Strategy was jointly owned by the Council and Harrow CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group). She added that the issues were complex and explained how the environment contributed to the health and wellbeing of people.
The Director added that whilst Harrow was relatively affluent and healthy, inequalities existed between Wards where there was a need for more focus. As a result, broad areas with overarching concepts and themes, such as Start Well, Live Well, Work Well and Age Well had been worked up. The Strategy was aligned to the strategic direction set through other strategies, including the Borough Plan, to maximise opportunities and strengthen delivery plans. She added that:
- feedback had been received from various stakeholders, including the police, acute hospitals, primary care centres and the voluntary sector;
- through the workshops across partners, priorities and challenges for Harrow were discussed and these were reflected in the Strategy.
Members asked the following questions:
Q1 – How would the Council support children and young adults who were suffering from mental health problems?
In response, the Director of Public Health reported that, as part of wellbeing, mental health featured significantly. The Council and the CCG were working on a Mental Health Strategy to ensure that the tools available were suitable for teenagers, young people and children of pre-school age. Both organisations already worked in partnership to commission some mental health services. However, in addition, resilience was key and the Council was actively supporting schools to gain the London Healthy Schools Award, which recognised the achievements of schools in supporting the health and wellbeing of their pupils.
Q2 -How did the five-year Strategy fit with the 10-year Borough Plan? Both were multi-agency. Joint commissioning between the CCG and local authority was included as part of the Borough Plan – how did the partners determine what areas or services to focus upon?
The Director of Public Health reported that officers across Directorates had worked closely on both documents. She was pleased that the Borough Plan had a focus on addressing poverty, inequalities and health inequalities; all of which were factors identified in the Strategy. In terms of prioritising, the main categories of the Strategy could encompass many topics. Evidence had been presented at the workshops with stakeholders which had helped to highlight major issues and allowed them to identify the priorities for the initial action plan.
Q3 - A relatively high proportion of Harrow adults were physically inactive. At the Scrutiny Leadership Group in January, members raised feedback from local sports/wellbeing groups that a rise in community lettings rents had impacted upon the groups being run. Conversely, Corporate Estates had fed back that they had not received any comments on the increases in rents and any adverse impact on users. What conversations were taking place to address these issues?
The Director of Public Health reported that Active Health Strategy and the Obesity Action Plan looked at all aspects of physical activity. A number of activities such as regular walking had been set up by GP Surgeries. She provided an example of the Living Well Group set up by a GP who also served on the Sub-Committee as an adviser. The adviser stated that his surgery encouraged walking and promoted an active lifestyle.
The Director added that active travel and access to green spaces were key to an active lifestyle and there was already a separate report setting out how measures that would be implemented. In response to a further question about deprivation and how this hindered health and wellbeing, the Director explained that two areas in Harrow were being targeted in terms of promoting an active lifestyle in South Harrow and Harrow and Wealdstone. The Superzone around Whitefriars School was encouraging physical activity, looking at parking provision, air pollution and takeaway outlets within the vicinity of the school. The Director explained that she was encouraging schools to promote drinking water in order to help build on the message that this would help prevent further deterioration of teeth which was an issue in Harrow and reduce plastic pollution.
The Director reported that she was also working with Council officers across Directorates to ensure that physical activity formed part of new housing developments and regeneration projects and that it was inclusive. Additionally, some community groups were promoting health events and she cited an example of a community group in Wealdstone which had recently held an event that was funded by the Public Health team. Work was also ongoing with the group and, separately, with communities around schools in Wealdstone.
Q4 – Stakeholder engagement appeared to be Council led. How was the Director engaging with other agencies?
The Director of Public Health explained that those who attended the workshops included the midwives, pediatricians, community staff, CCG, Police and voluntary sector. It had been helpful to engage with a range of people with various expertise. Additionally, the Strategy was included on the Council’s website but the response had not been huge.
Q5 – How would social prescribing help the elderly and how would it strengthen communities?
In response, the Director of Public Health stated that social prescribing was a good example of integrated care where the Council, primary care services and the voluntary sector were operating as a single team. Social prescribing involved helping patients to improve their health, wellbeing and social welfare by connecting them to community services which might be run by the Council or a local charity. She added that the service in place was already receiving referrals. The role of the link worker was to meet with the patients to discuss their needs, support them to make a change and to signpost them to a huge range of opportunities across the borough. As a result of social prescribing, projects had been established to support socially isolated people. She gave an example of the new therapy garden on the Ridgeway and a new hub which was to be developed as for people with mental health problems and their carers to help address the issue of isolation.
Q6 – Barnet Council was developing housing for people with dementia. Would Harrow Council follow suit?
The Director of Public Health reported that plans for the provision of extra-care housing were underway. The Director of Adult Social Services reported that she was working with colleagues in housing to ensure that homes were provided for people with additional care needs, such as disability and dementia. There were plans on the Poets Corner site for some of these units.
The Chair reported that she would send her comments and questions separately to the Director for a response.
RESOLVED: That having reviewed and commented on the draft Harrow Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020-2025, the comments and questions set out in the preamble above be noted and, where appropriate, included in the version submitted to the Health and Wellbeing Board.