Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Café Connect 6 – Friday 8th July, Isle of Mull

Reluctantly leaving Knoydart I headed south to Lochaline to catch another ferry (who’s counting?) to Fishnish, Isle of Mull…

Last year, the Ulva School Community Association successfully campaigned to save the community’s only remaining communal asset – Ulva Primary School.

The school pupils totalled 4 last year, this year its 8. The numbers temporarily swelled when it became our next, and undoubtedly the most colourful, Café Connect venue for the night…

…with 18 people attending! Note that the USCA area of Mull has a population of just 110.

The Ulva champion, Carolyne Charrington (Vice Convenor, Ulva School Community Association) originally approached us to host a Café Connect and laid all the groundwork. With Carolyne unable to make it on the night, she passed the baton to Helen Mackay (Convenor, Ulva School Community Association). Helen did a fantastic job in spreading the word, going all out to make the night a success; she made dedicated phone calls to households in the community, stopped people in the street, posted the flyers and even bagged a slot on Oban FM!

Tonight’s speaker was Dr Alasdair Mort (dot.rural Healthcare Research Fellow, Centre for Rural Health, University of Aberdeen) delivering ‘Rural Pain Relief: A digital dose’. The talk linked in with our TOPS (Technology to support Older adults Personal and Social interaction) Healthcare project, and touched on areas such as rural well-being, comfort and friendship.

Alasdair focused on the issues surrounding the ageing populations of rural areas, the management of chronic conditions and that of associated chronic pain (defined as lasting for more than 3 months). It is projected that in 2030, 32% of people will be over 65 years old in the Argyll and Bute area (exceeding the UK average) and thus impacting the challenges of living with a chronic condition.

Alasdair went on to describe that current state of telehealth, telecare and telemedicine, with the possible reduction in face-to-face personal and social interaction.

A quick break, and just time to sample the fantastic rock cakes and the lemoniest lemon drizzle I’ve ever eaten…

From a sample of cake, to a sample of the discussions that emerged…
- Technologies, like those being developed under the TOPS project, “can’t bring people physically closer, but may make them better connected”.
- Concerns over new technologies diverting funding from other medical service provision, culminating in the loss of care.
- Concerns over the rising costs of fuel when making journeys to/from disperse communities for essential, medical reasons.
- The importance of options: if people choose to use technology to support their levels of personal and social interaction in the management of their chronic pain, then this should be available but is not intended to replace any face-to-face interaction currently available.
- The Scottish Government completed an initiative about 10 years ago, delivering computing hardware (a computer, printer and webcam), free Internet access for 1 year (later extended to 3 years), and dedicated training workshops to every household in the area.
- ‘A digital dose’ is really referring to “methods of communication, not pain relief itself”.
- The real demand for remote consultations and diagnoses (supported by new technologies), and promising invaluable reassurance in real-time. This local need links in with another of our Healthcare projects (phase 2) .
- The value in digital pain diaries with a very simple GUI (perhaps on a telephone).

After rescuing the Primary School, the USCA are invigorated, using the school, in place of a village hall, to the max for all sorts of events and workshops.

If you fancy sampling some of their genuine community ‘togetherness’, pop along to the USCA Summer Fete on August 7th. But a word of warning – once there, you might not want to leave!

The evening concluded with a bizarre experience in the Craignure Inn; a ‘push the bottle’ competition which Mat and Alasdair narrowly lost to the locals…


p.s. Did you catch our previous blog post (Café Connect 5 – Knoydart) on the front page of the Ruralworkspace Daily?

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