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Car Scheme to be formed

Around 25 people attended Friday’s Community Transport Seminar to hear of the difficulties in getting around and escaping isolation faced by many in our community and many others, and to hear about the excellent ways in which community transport schemes can help people overcome these difficulties. Talks by Rhoda Grant (MSP), Maggie Lawson (Badenoch & Strathspey Community Transport) and Sheila Fletcher of the national Community Transport Association helped build the to and fro of debate.

The audience, which included representatives of Highland Council, Community Councils, Alzheimers Scotland, Lung at Heart, Nairn Community Transport Association, Signpost and ScotSectorLink, concluded that it was worthwhile endeavouring to establish a scheme in Nairn, agreed to form a steering group and Signpost came forward to act as co-ordinator to the group.

The plan is to try and form a small pilot scheme designed to improve take-up of existing services and engage a few volunteer drivers to help their neighbours get around. NAPG will help prepare bids for the funds which will be needed for expenses and to pay a project co-ordinator.

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Transport Seminar

Here’s notification of an important seminar about transport in and around Nairn, Nairnshire, Ardersier, Petty and Croy. Key speakers include Rhoda Grant MSP and Maggie Lawson, MBE, of the Badenoch & Strathspey Transport Company.

poster-for-community-transport-seminar

Getting around the area and social isolation are troublesome issues for a growing number of people, subject to much discussion and review, especially in present times of public spending cuts. There remain a wide range of service providers, from buses and dial-a-bus to Community Transport minibuses and the recent pilot weekly minibus scheme between Ardersier and Nairn. and of course, there’s many taxis operating in the area. There’s evidence that nevertheless these services are under-utilised.

Still, local people have told us that they are not able to get about – to appointments, to shop, to socialise – with sufficient ease to meet their needs. Nairn & Ardersier Patients Group conducted a survey of the local community (not just patients) and from a large response identified around 11% of the population without their own transport (or unable to use it) unable to afford to get to appointments, to meet friends at social events or simply to shop, attend concerts or events and so on.

The solution seems to be a project which tries to maximise the use of existing services (by helping people understand the best way to make use of them and assisting providers in communication their availability) and which also provides facilities which fit between these services. The best proven example across Scotland, and especially in Badenoch & Strathspey, is a community car scheme.

This Seminar seeks to attract direct support from local people interested in helping the unwell, the disabled, the vulnerable and elderly through the simple medium of offering a little time and a lift in their car from time to time. We are delighted to have obtained such a high calibre of speakers.

We are particularly keen to find someone (or more) interested in acting as the co-ordinator for the project, but also committee members, volunteer drivers, people to answer the phone and those handy with admin (and even spreadsheets!). If the event demonstrates sufficient interest we will draft and submit applications for grant funding to meet running costs and to employ a co-ordinator.

We very much hope you will find time to attend this seminar which starts at 10.30 am on Friday 23rd September at Nairn Community & Arts Centre.

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From May’s AGM

A really useful thing to know about is the service offered by our chemists. This is a thing known as the Minor Ailments Service. Our chemists can give advice, prescribe medicines on a whole range of illnesses and even if they are unable to deal with the problem themselves, they can refer you to a doctor. It’s a great service, particularly ‘cos you don’t have to wait ages to get an appointment with your GP…..and of course our local chemists are really friendly and helpful.
Alan and Graham, from Boots and Lloyds, came to our AGM and gave us the full run down on this service. Check out the official details at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2006/06/26102829/1 or better still, just pop in to the chemists and ask…

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AGM on the 19th

Our AGM will be held on Thursday, 19th May from 7 pm at the Nairn Community & Arts Centre.

Everyone welcome to attend. You’re very welcome to join the committee. Let us know in advance if you’re interested in joining up, or just come along on the night and put yourself forward.

NHS Highland and the local pharmacy managers will be in attendance.

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Meeting on 30th March

A challenging meeting last month…we covered a quite a few difficult issues and heard examples from a number of patients.
We were asked a number of questions about Ambulance cover in Nairn, prompted partly by gossip and also by a recent episode when a callout took more than 20 minutes.
We heard of difficulties in getting through on the phone at the surgery at certain times of the day and about a lack of continuity of care when staff left the surgery. And we heard about a number of patients waiting unnecessarily to get home from hospital, waiting for care services to be available to them at home.
Our Chair has written to NHS Highland Area Manager Jean-Pierre Sieczkarek asking for information and comment. It would have been so much better to have had NHS representation at the meeting, better still, representation from our GP Practice, so we could have had a direct dialogue.

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Meeting tomorrow night

We’re meeting at Nairn Community & Arts Centre tomorrow night from 7.00 pm.

We’re hearing lots about the need for good access to care at home and easier access to advice and support from our GP practice. Some of it’s really positive – like one patient’s story of fast and reassuring response by both nurse and doctor to sudden ill-health. Some of it’s a little worrying, like one patient’s complaint (currently submitted to the surgery) that they couldn’t get through to the surgery and even when they did they needed help from friends to get a GP to call back even on the same day.

Other stories of needlessly long stays in hospital and limited support after in-patient stays seem to be growing despite the efforts to improve access to home care NHS Highland were telling us about a year ago.

Also on the agenda. What do we do about the transport needs we discovered in our survey a couple of years ago? Are there volunteers out there interested in helping us get started?

All are welcome to this quarterly meeting…let us know what improvements you have seen and tell us what improvements you think could make a difference.

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GP appointments – improved?

It’s good to see the GP practice endeavouring to work on improvements in the appointment system.

It’ll be great if their hopes pay off. We support their efforts and would be pleased to lend any assistance / support.

It’s also good that the practice involved a couple of patients in the review that lead to these changes, even though they may not have been patient nominees – positive signs that more representative patient involvement and collaboration with the GP surgery could be on its way.

Let us know what you think, both about how patients could be more involved and specifically about the appointment system. How’s it been working for you?

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Pharmacists – a source of health advice

Our next public meeting is to be held on Tuesday 17th November at the British Legion, Cawdor Road, Nairn…ALL ARE WELCOME!
We’ve invited the managers of our three pharmacies to come along and explain more about the extra services they provide for the NHS. We’ll also get an update on our ideas for a local transport solution – we’ve been lobbying a bunch of people….will we be able to report progress on a possible partnership?

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Bus services for Ardersier

We’re with those who are calling for improvements following Stagecoaches’ cancellation at the end of May of a bus service between Ardersier and Nairn.
The evidence we found when we surveyed people around Nairnshire last year was that Ardersier and the other outlying areas are notably less well served by bus and dial-a-bus than the rest of us….not that any of us have lots to chose from.

We think that organising an alternative bus service using the community transport association mini-buses would make a difference, and from what we’ve understood, it’s feasible with volunteer drivers. But the survey also made it clear that bus services and dial-a-bus are not the whole answer. Lots of people prefer the bus, but they’ve also made it very clear that the services provided simply don’t offer the flexibility that they need. Even if a service is available, for 11% of our survey respondents they aren’t available for them to complete their return journey. Buses run at set times over fixed routes. There’s only one Dial-a-bus and its availability is restricted by things like the school run or staff break-times. The Community Transport Association mini-buses are designed for use by local community groups and are well-used, but while they may be suitable for a bus route they don’t provide the flexibility of a car or taxi.

What’s needed for Nairnshire and neighbouring Ardersier is a flexible range of services that INCLUDE buses and dial-a-bus, doesn’t undermine local taxi businesses, but also fills the gaps these services can’t fill. We think what’s needed is LOCAL co-ordination, to help people and service providers to maximise the use of existing services but also to manage a voluntary car service. This isn’t a new idea: there’s a highly successful scheme in Badenoch & Strathspey and others in Inverness and the Black Isle.

We’ve been on the hunt for a partner to work with us in setting this up. Drop us a line if you can think of one we could approach…