Looking ahead for 2015

Looking back as 2015 begins the issue of human rights and health is much in my mind. I´ve been in Sweden over new year, the birthplace of the founder of the Nobel prize, and the 2014 Nobel Laureates for Peace Malala and Kailash have been recognised for their courageous human rights work with children and received much coverage in closing year reviews here. Over the last few years I´ve followed the career of Margot Wallström, the newly appointed Swedish Foreign Minister, and former UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict who has long spoken up in support of worldwide human rights issues. In Scotland the ALLIANCE Academy Masterclass on Human Rights and Health – delivered by Jonathan Cohen and chaired by Audrey Birt was powerful and the take home message for me was that Communities claiming health as a human right…creates change´.   All this has caused me to question the visibility of human rights language in the context of wellness. As a person of lived experience, where severe loss of healthy functioning came as a shock, resulting in a disconnect from my sense of self worth in society – a sense of shame that simply being ill can bring, the loss of a sense of value in society and yes the loss of the sense of entitlement to the basic human rights in society. Having to navigate punitive and inhuman benefit and employment services where, even when staff are trying to retain and support a sense of dignity, a blame culture all too often exists. So I´m wondering if there is the potential to make human rights language a stronger part of the conversation in health and social care for both service users and those who do their best to deliver those same services? Two areas that I´m involved in come to mind. TheWEL programme in Scotland, is doing great work in helping people to develop and foster their own wellness and self care through a compassionate approach. The consistent findings in TheWEL show the same levels of poor health and wellness in both staff and service users and yet that is not so often acknowledged. As a member of The Programme Board of the ALLIANCE Academy, I know that there is great work being done by The ALLIANCE and its partners in raising issues of human rights in Scotland through the development of the National Action Plan and sessions such as the Jonathan Cohen Masterclass. A human rights approach to health and wellness – are we seeing this being modelled in Scotland? Yes I think we are, but how to foster ways of leading and developing transformational models rather than simply focussing on managing existing services faster and harder. Back to Margot Wallström who recently reflected that Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses…being a manager is a position: being a leader is a relationship. And that’s the knack – making the distinction´. Cath Cooney, Citizen Blogger January 2015

Originally posted through the Health and Social Care Academy citizen blog in January 2015



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