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Life-changing personal experiences drive grandmother’s dedicated work at heart health and social care

Published: Friday, 22 February 2019

Life-changing personal experiences drive grandmother’s dedicated work at heart health and social care

Margaret Moncrieff - chair of South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Forum

A dedicated grandmother has revealed how life-changing personal experiences have underpinned her lead role in an independent community group geared to improving health and social care.
Margaret Moncrieff, who is the Chair of South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Forum (SLH&CF), helped care for a close family member at just nine years of age.

In her 40s Margaret, now 69, cared for her late mother when she was diagnosed with dementia. Profoundly affected by the experience, Margaret went on to work on a dementia outreach project later in her life.
Now retired, the grandmother of four devotes much of her spare time to SLH&CF. The organisation has been appointed by South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership (SLH&SCP) to support wider public involvement in planning and decision-making about local health and social care services. The Forum, made up volunteers in of four locality groups across South Lanarkshire, is currently looking to recruit new members. Margaret explained why she’s been compelled to be part it: “The Forum is about having the means to channel empathy and experience – and make a difference to other people’s lives.

“I’ve drawn on my experience as a child in a carer role – and the sense of isolation - and used that to emphasise that support to carers, of all ages, is vital.
“I can also acutely recall the sense of trauma and guilt of not being able to look after my late mum any longer when she was admitted to care as her condition deteriorated.
“In more recent years my husband has suffered from poor physical health – and, in turn, that’s highlighted to me the impact of illness on mental health. In general terms, people can suffer frustration, and a loss of confidence and self-esteem especially if the illness is life-changing.
“I wanted to join the Forum, drawing on these experiences, to ensure services for patients and carers are best suited to their needs.”
The Forum’s valued contribution has ranged from sense-checking the wording of written information on leaflets is user friendly to ensuring the needs of patients and carers influence how future service is planned and delivered. The Forum have also played a key role in ensuring people in communities have their say when crucial long term health and social care strategy is being set out.
“It’s been extremely gratifying to see developments made in policy, plans and procedure as a direct result of Forum involvement,” added Margaret.
“I’ve felt reassured that through my role I’ve been able to truly influence better services for patients and their carers - at a very human level.”

The ongoing work of the HSCF was recently recognised at the South Lanarkshire Integration Joint Board.

Val de Souza, Director of Health and Social Care for SLH&SCP said: “Our partnership’s vision is Working together to improve health and wellbeing in the community – with the community.
“The work of the Health and Social Care Forum – and the passionate and valuable experience of many people, like Margaret - has been key to helping us realise this goal.
“They have had a crucial part to play in involving and supporting communities of South Lanarkshire in developing services that are appropriate, responsive, accountable – and always have the person at the very centre.”
If you are interested about the way health and social care is delivered, perhaps sharing similar experiences to Margaret’s, and would like to get involved in the work of the Forum, please contact: 01698 858366 or visit http://www.slhscp.org.uk/info/10/get_involved