Reconnecting with life and building resilience at Penny Brohn UK
In North Somerset, on the outskirts of Bristol lies Penny Brohn UK. A marvellous centre offering day and residential courses free of charge to help people living with cancer and their supporters to take back control of their health and wellbeing and live as well as they can with the impact of cancer.
I’ve previously written about Maggie’s Centres and how they are just the type of place that is reassuring to know exists. The same goes for Penny Brohn, with its retreat-like atmosphere, calm and bright spaces, and healthy eating ethos spanning everything from the on-site shop to the cooking classes.
Penny Brohn is one of our recently selected five local partner sites for Realising the Value. All of the local partner sites have been selected as mature and established examples of putting person- and community-centred approaches to health and wellbeing into practice.
Working alongside the five local partner sites, Nesta and the rest of the Realising the Value consortium are establishing ‘living labs’ in our five areas of practice for the programme, to get a much more granular understanding of what works and what needs to change, for person- and community-centred approaches to have wide-spread impact across the health and care system. We will be publishing final tools and recommendations from this work in Autumn 2016, and will be blogging and sharing insights along the way.
All of the sites share an asset-based philosophy, working with people’s knowledge, skills and confidence to look after their own health instead of focusing on health ‘deficits’. Penny Brohn UK exemplifies this philosophy well, working with people from their first diagnosis and beyond treatment, and focusing on empowering people and building their resilience throughout.
When visiting the centre last week, I met one of the on-site nutritionists busy prepping her next cooking class, saw the holistic exercise room and the spaces for stillness and meditation. The self-management educational approach at the centre focuses on providing a mix of information and practical tools for people to take an active role in their own health. As a client quoted on the website says:
“Cancer was the most overwhelming challenge I’ve ever faced. Penny Brohn completely transformed my experience and helped me build resilience and reconnect with my life”
Mike, Penny Brohn client
This importance of building the resilience of people and communities was recognised in the NHS Five Year Forward View (2014), and led to the establishment of Realising the Value as a programme to consolidate learning, tools and recommendation in the area. I am incredibly excited about working with the five local partner sites in the New Year, to understand on a micro and macro level how they make this work in practice.
The learning from local partner sites alongside wider evidence and practice will help us generate knowledge about the behaviours and enablers that can make resilience, person centred and community based approaches guiding principles for the health and care system. Everyone who needs it should have the opportunity to reconnect with life. Watch this space for stories emerging from this work over the coming months.