Traditionally JSNAs have adopted what can be described as a deficit model of health and wellbeing, focusing on problems, needs and deficiencies in communities such as deprivation, illness and death. Whilst it is important that we continue to understand population health and wellbeing needs and health inequalities, it is no less important that we understand the assets (or strengths) that people, communities and groups have in order to use this support and improve their health and wellbeing. By focusing on what’s strong not what’s wrong, a good JSNA can identify those local assets (strengths) which are improving health and wellbeing such as groups, networks, activities, spaces and service provision. Our local JSNA is starting to include these assets to provide a whole picture of health and wellbeing.
Where we live, our services, our communities.
County Durham has many assets that can support and protect health, some of these are set out below.
Approach to Wellbeing
There are many definitions of wellbeing, but in short it can be described as ‘how well we are doing’ or ‘how satisfied we are with our lives’. As well as health, measures of wellbeing include our relationships; our work and finances; our levels of participation in sport, culture and community events, where we live and how safe we feel; and the services we can access. Wellbeing is starting to be an equivalent measure to economic growth, ensuring that we consider these important factors in people’s lives alongside factors influencing economic development.
Wider influences such as finances, home, education, climate and environment can all have an impact on the health of our communities. However, communities also possess a number of assets available to them that help maintain and build their resilience and which in turn can protect challenges to their health or wellbeing.
Initiatives intended to encourage inclusive growth and improvements in wellbeing are founded on the engagement of communities and the devolution of power. County Durham has been at the vanguard in developing such approaches, engaging communities and sharing decision making through Area Action Partnerships. These have been operating since 2009, originally designed to give people a voice in how local services are provided. We know that this can make a difference and can build on these to close the gap and not leave people behind.
This approach to wellbeing is a key way of implementing the County Durham Vision and we will deliver this strategy together with our communities. We will operate to the following principles of working in order to improve the wellbeing of our residents:
- Solutions will be designed and produced together with service users
- We will work with communities and support their development and empowerment
- We will acknowledge the differing needs of our communities whilst acknowledging and building on their potential strengths
- We will direct our activities where they can make the biggest difference to those who are most vulnerable and help to build resilience
- We will make person centred interventions available, ensuring that they are empowering and not stigmatising
- We will align our related strategies, policies and services to reduce duplication and ensure greater impact.