We Need Consistent Relationships to Maintain Wellbeing

Wellogram is a service that focuses on an individual’s wellness rather than their illness.

Wellogram provides support and tools to help create a lifestyle that makes you feel good, whilst also connecting you to others doing the same.

One of the most important things to remember about Wellogram is that we recognise that the patient is the expert in their own lives and that our team are here to offer them the opportunity to explore and discover their potential.

The percentage of the UK population living with long term conditions is constantly rising at an almost epidemic rate. Such an increase is causing a serious economical strain on the country a strain that cannot be sustained if current trends continue. However, it is a strain that could be reduced through the prevention and better self-management of such conditions.

Wellogram is really making a real difference to people’s lives. An example of such is, Sam*. Sam is a 50 year old female with a BMI of 38. This puts her in the ‘obese’ category of weight which in turn increases her risk of developing a number of chronic health conditions.

Sam was referred to Wellogram following a conversation she had with her GP regarding her weight, the negative impact it was having on her health and her possible prognoses, if her lifestyle was to continue as it was. Following years of dipping in and out of unsuccessful dieting, Sam, under the reccommendation of her GP decided to give Wellogram a shot.

I remember Sam* coming into her first Wellness consultation. Sam arrived with a manner that seemed quiet reluctant and defensive. She admitted to coming along to appease her doctor. She was fed up of having family, friends and health professionals constantly telling her she must lose weight.

Sam* is a full time carer for her Mum. She worried that, if she was to get ill or if her weight was to continue to increase and her mobility became even more reduced, she would no longer be able to look after her mum.

Sam* also admitted to having refused to get into family pictures over the past few years, as she was not happy with the way that she looked.

It’s clear that it is not just the physical weight that is impacting on Sam’s* life. Her weight is also having a dramatic negative impact on her self-confidence and how she perceives herself.  After a relatively in-depth conversation Sam* had a focus and had set some specific actions of what she was going to do to get her journey started. Leaving the surgery that day Sam decided to;

  • Have breakfast every day this week
  • Drink a set amount of water (a glass with each meal & 2 more throughout the day)
  • Keep healthy snacks nearby (particularly in the evening)
  • Tell family and ask them for support (ask brother to stop bringing large portions of chocolate & sweets to the house. Instead, just bring one portion for her mother)

These actions may seem very basic, almost pedantic. However, the principle of Wellogram is to set actions that are manageable. The key is to focus on doing a limited number of specific actions on a regular basis, so as to allow them become automatic actions in your everyday life. In turn, increasing your chances of sticking to your goal.

Since Sam’s* first consultation she has been back to the surgery on a number of occasions. On two of these occasions, Sam has brought members of her family along and it appears that she is really using her social network to help her achieve her goal and stay motivated. In the space of 6weeks, Sam* has lost 7KG. She  reports feeling lighter (and apparently that’s not just a reference to the lost kilos), more confident that she can reach her goal this time, having more energy, loving fruit and veg again, replacing unhealthy snacks in the evening with healthier alternatives. She has also, had her photograph taken at her sisters birthday and has stuck it on her fridge as a means to spur her on. She plans to get a nice family portrait taken next year, as a gift to her mum. She has achieved all of this, in a way that feels has not been a major struggle or sacrifice. Oh, and she is enjoying it!

The aim for Wellogram and services of a similar nature is that we can give back some level of control over life to other patients, similar to Sam*. Also, that, it can be seen by health professionals as a recognised tool to work alongside and support any other medical treatments their patients may be receiving. Any of the progress to date would not have been achievable without the support and work of the multi-disciplinary team. We must also remember that a consistent relationship with the patient is key here. The success is in the story above.



Casserole Club Builds Community and Relationships One Meal Share at a Time

The idea behind Casserole Club, is simple: we connect people who like to cook and are up for sharing an extra plate of hot, home-cooked food with a neighbour who could really benefit from one.

You may think that Casserole Club- the community that connects cooks with spare portions to those in their community who might not be able to cook for themselves, is only about sharing food.

With a tagline “Do something great with an extra plate”, Casserole also aims to build local relationships between neighbours. Of course as well as that, many old and housebound community members live in isolation – so this project is dealing with two fundamental issues in one go.

So, Casserole has the potential to help tackle the growing social problems of loneliness and malnutrition among older people, and at the same time help connect people with their neighbours. Here’s an example from Meal of the Month, a regular feature on the Casserole Club blog.

Lucy, a Cook from Tower Hamlets, cooked spicy mint lamb for elderly Diners John and Helen.   The three have shared a couple of meal shares before, but due to a busy summer they have just got back in touch. When she went around with her dish on Saturday, Lucy tells us, it was absolutely lovely.  She was invited inside by Helen for a cup of tea and a chat, where Helen enjoyed telling Lucy all about her previous nursing experiences. John, who is ill and usually stays in bed during the visits, was well enough to come sit with them and enjoy the conversation.  He thanked Lucy for her visit and was happy to have company. Helen and John have lived in Tower Hamlets for a long time, and described to Lucy – a Tower Hamlets resident of 6 years – how the area has changed over the years and how the olden days compared to today. Lucy was pleased with the visit and, even though she is going away in a few weeks and has a hectic schedule, she is hoping to arrange another meal share before she leaves.

That’s just one example of how Casserole addresses an aspect of community life our communities used to do for itself – and there are many more.

As Casserole cook Katie told us: “Shared dining experiences have been the fabric of communities since forever, and if we want to “rebuild” communities, food seems like a good place to start.”

A Danish Relationship- Part 2

I was rather surprised, and definitely honoured when I read Hilary Cottam’s blog post “A Danish Relationship”.

Most of all, I’m happy that I have been able to contribute to the discourse on welfare and societal change, and even more happy to bring back valuable discussions that will benefit Odense’s strategy “New Reality, New welfare”.

In short New Reality, New Welfare is our strategy in Odense Municipality to empower citizens, stakeholders, leaders and personnel to release the potential within the individual and the civil society. The mind set must change from rights to resources, to unfold our indvidual potential as well as our societal potential.

The crisis fostered New Reality, New Welfare. Faced with expectations of continuous development of our welfare under the condition of constant decreasing  economic resources, we realised that we much think differently – have higher ambitions than to cut expenses at the rate of cuts in finances.

Therefore, our vision is to deliver more quality for less resources. It is a very motivating and helpful vision. However, not an easy one. It is a shift of paradigm in the understanding of the “public delivery model”. For one thing; it is beyond our span of control. If we want to empower the citizen, the network, the society, we must enter a dialogue and use professional empathy to truly understand what will empower them, and be able to systematically transfer that into new welfare solutions. Furthermore, we have to motivate the citizen and engange the society in general in our strategy. Convince them that we want them to take charge of their own lives and the development of the welfare model. Not to abandon our responsibility as local authority nor to solve our economic challenge, but to support better quality of life.

Thanks to Hillary Cottam for facilitating such interesting and important discourse at this site. I was inspired by her article “Relational Welfare” that tunes our minds in on new understandings of our methods and perceptions in the welfare production.

Jorgen Clausen

A Danish Relationship

In Copenhagen earlier this week I was struck when Jorgen Clausen, the chief executive of Odense (Denmark’s third largest city) began his presentation talking about the cities’ 1,000 leaders and 16 thousand employees – the people that make his city sing and might attract other people and things to happen.

I am so used to the British context where every leader feels compelled to start by framing their local challenges in terms of financial indicators, a ranking on a deprivation index and the number of people unemployed, that I was immediately gripped by what Mr Clausen had to say.

Of course Odense has its challenges, which include a welfare system that is no longer affordable and on which his citizens are too dependent  – this is why Mr Clausen has teamed up with MindLab, Denmark’s cross ministerial innovation lab, believing that radical change is needed.

Mr Clausen asked how politics and public service works when we no longer have the answers and the old ways of doing business are bust.  His answer is genuine dialogue – the better the dialogue, the better the solutions will be.

So Mr Clausen sees that the solutions lie not in his institutions but with the citizens themselves and the extent to which he can foster better bonds, better conversations and better co-operation between them.  It’s a very different starting point for public service reform.

My hunch is that if we want to see how a municipality centred on relationships might work we should keep our eye on Mr Clausen, Odense and his partnership with MindLab.

Hilary Cottam is Founder and CEO of Participle. 

Read Part 2 of “A Danish Relationship”

What Relational Welfare means to me…

There are many elderly people living alone, proud of their independence but actually often lonely. Some live in houses in which they brought up their families and, now that their children have left the nest, they are often isolated especially if they live in the country and cannot (or should not!) drive a car. There are also many younger, retired people with time to spare. It doesn’t take long to make a phone call to have a chat or ask an elderly person to tea or give a lift to the shops. Some old peoples’ homes encourage “befrienders”. My husband is a befriended ( you need a police check for this) and goes to play scrabble or cards or just sits and chats with the old people. He enjoys it as much as anyone. We will be going to spend time on Christmas day at our local old people’s home, and see the enormous value it brings to their, and our lives. This is what Relational Welfare means to me. We need to bring people together to create a better community, and make relationships work.

Retired Grandmother, living in BUCKS.