Thursday, 13 November 2014

Clowndoctors and Elderflowers

I was delighted to accept an invitation to attend the 15th birthday celebration of Hearts and Minds last night at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in the High Street (a great venue by the way). From their website an explanation of what they do -

" Hearts and Minds is a Scottish arts-in-health charity. We aim to improve the experience of people in hospital and in hospice, residential and respite care by using the performing arts to encourage communication, interaction and laughter.

We achieve our aim through two specialist creative programmes; The Clowndoctors, who work specifically with children, and The Elderflowers, who work with elderly people with dementia.We raise smiles all across Scotland, from Inverness down to the Borders."

All their "Practitioners", as they are referred to, are actors who spread joy and laughter, sometimes improvised, to people young and old who are facing a difficult time and frightened of what the future may hold. Expertly led by Magdalena Schamberger the organisation has grown from an idea and modest beginnings to a well established and respected organisation that helps to develop young acting talent but more importantly makes a huge difference to the lives of people who are very vulnerable. It should be noted that care staff, NHS staff etc do a fantastic job caring but they don't always have the time to add that wee bit extra. In any case, I'm not sure if they would be suited to the anarchic, slap stick antics of the Practitioners.

Part of the birthday celebrations was a performance by singer songwriter Carrie Mac, followed by a film of the Clowndoctors and Elderflowers in action. It was excellent. It made me cry.

Monday, 10 November 2014


Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy
Remembrance Day commitments went well yesterday. Was honoured to lay a wreath at Balerno Church during a service that had a strong anti war theme throughout. The minister stressed the point to some children in the congregation that we learn (hopefully) through mistakes of the past not to repeat bad decisions in the future. Also heard a recital of some wonderful poems from the First World War writer and padre Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy. I wasn't aware of him or his work before but you can access his biography and some of his poems on this link. His poems are very powerful.

Then, back into town and down to the Royal Scots Club at Abercromby Place for the annual McCrae's Battalion Trust Lunch. An excellent afternoon of reminiscences, remembrance, football talk and good old fashioned knock about humour, provided this year by Tam Cowan and Jimmy Stirling. Both were superb. Good to catch up with numerous friends who are involved with the Trust and the football club and even managed to last the pace until the proceedings concluded at about 6.30pm.

The Health, Social Care and Housing Committee meets tomorrow, the papers can be viewed on this link to the Council Papers Online service.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Integration in action

Wester Hailes HLC
After a busy week I was looking forward to our visit to the Wester Hailes Healthy Living Centre this morning, as part of our programme of visits to Health and Social Care services and facilities across the city. The process of putting in place the necessary arrangements to comply with Scottish Government regulations in relation to Health and Social Care Integration continues and its quite a complex piece of work. Therefore, while we plough through the seemingly endless, dry process of governance and structures it was refreshing to see and hear the benefits of joint working across NHS, Council, and third sector organisations actually delivering better services for local people. From learning disabilities to children and families and home care and re-ablement to addictions services and support for cancer sufferers, the teams of professionals based at the WHHLC are, after settling into their new surroundings, pressing ahead with very impressive joint working that gives us a real picture of what Integration can achieve. Much of this can and is being done without the need for legislation but where barriers have been identified we need to take this on through the new Integrated Joint Board (IJB) and try to assist these colleagues to make further progress. The construction of the Strategic Commissioning Plan, which will come next year, will be a real opportunity for this and hopefully we can move from the bureaucracy to real service change and delivery.
Sir George McCrae

Remembrance Sunday this weekend and I'm honoured to have been asked again to lay a wreath at the service at Balerno Parish Church and am then looking forward to attending the McCrae's Battalion Lunch at the Royal Scots Club.