When it comes to preventable health issues, whose responsibility is your own personal health? Whose responsibility is our community’s health? Many might answer the burden rests with the individual to take basic steps like maintaining a healthy diet, getting exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, practicing moderation in lifestyle, health self-education and generally striving for health.
But when we don’t, and we run into chronic, preventable health issues, the responsibility to pay for the consequences falls on the health care system – which we all pay for.
A few years back, the B.C. Ministry of Health set out to better coordinate their efforts to control “upstream” health, embarking on several initiatives designed to improve health at the community level and, therefore, control the financial burden preventable illnesses place on the health care system.
Locally, the offshoot is the Revelstoke and Area Healthy Community Project, a new report completed by City of Revelstoke Social Development Coordinator Jill Zacharias and the city’s Social Development Committee.
The report’s goal is to find out what the community – Revelstoke – can be doing to positively affect health outcomes.
“The health authorities do health care; they can’t control the places where people live,” Zacharias explained in an interview with the Times Review. “This is really about looking at upstream prevention. For me, what was cool about this was really connecting the dots – saying this is what we’re doing, but connecting it … to the health and well-being of our citizens.”
The 29-page report can only be touched upon briefly here, but we’ve embedded it at the bottom of this story.
It’s a facts-, figures- and statistics-heavy report that inventories all kinds of health-related information, such as available recreation options, food-related information, socio-economic data, mental health statistics, health-related environment information and a catalogue of the “healthy built environment.”
From this inventory, the committee – in consultation with the community – sought out priorities and initiatives for improving community health in Revelstoke.
“It’s really good to connect all these initiatives with moving towards doing more to improve the overall health and well-being not only of individuals and families in the community, but the community as a whole,” Zacharias said.
The report identifies priorities that will have the greatest effect on community health.
“No surprise, poverty reduction has come out on top,” Zacharias said. The report explores many options for dealing with poverty, and one upcoming thrust is to help residents better understand what poverty is in Revelstoke.
It’s about “actively working to increase awareness of the nature of poverty in our community, and really trying to broaden that knowledge and community awareness of what poverty looks like in our community,” Zacharias said.
Mental health and substance abuse issues are identified as other major issues.
The report isn’t a City of Revelstoke document, but it does overlap significantly with city services.
The “healthy built environment” section explores existing recreation infrastructure, making recommendations for improvement.
It also identifies sidewalk maintenance and repair as a key priority to help kids and seniors with improved mobility.
Another section touches on access to recreation opportunities, exploring programs and initiatives like subsidies that will improve access.
This summary only touches on a few points in the report, which will exist as a living document in the years to come. “It’s really pulling all those pieces together,” Zacharias explained. “Sometimes the process is as exciting as the actual result, because it starts that community conversation.”
The report was created through grant funding, but it doesn’t include any extra funding from the health authority for the initiatives.
Here is the Revelstoke and Area Healthy Community Project report:
Note: A slightly updated version of the Revelstoke and Area Healthy Community Project report PDF was provided to the Times Review and uploaded about five hours after the initial story was published.