Section (A): Mapping of Module Learning Outcomes
The Shiney Advice and Resource Project (SHARP) is a community-based organisation that was founded in 1985 with the aim of developing the community by advising and supporting the citizens, as well as campaigning for their welfare and rights, which can improve their living standards (SHARP 2014). Organisations such as SHARP work on the premise that community participation is essential in promoting the health of the society since it has to be done by the people rather than on them. For this to happen, it becomes necessary to engage with the communities in a manner that will encourage participation and ownership of the entire process. SHARP works under the view that ensuring people have access to their rights will allow them to take control and influence the course of their lives and the future of their community.
My visit to SHARP was useful in providing practical knowledge on how such centres can promote the health of the community. For instance, SHARP is engaged in advising and guiding the community; providing and accessing training, offering services for the children and elderly, community development and providing employment support (SHARP 2016). To provide a healthy community, SHARP ensures that all the systems work well together so that the citizens can have a good quality life. It helped me understand that the health of a person and the community at large is affected by the social determinants of health (Community Tool Box 2016). These determinants include the basic needs such as food and shelter, as well as sustainable income and resources and social justice (Bartley et. al. 2006; Shaw 2008). Considering these factors show that health extends beyond medical treatment to social aspects of the community.
During my time at SHARP, it was possible to compare the different ways of working with communities about peoples’ health. The most basic way is by providing members of the community with the relevant information in the form of information kits and websites or fact sheets (DHHS n.d.). This is not an effective means of community participation since the flow of information is one-way from the provider to the recipient. It is not efficient at promoting change since it does not encourage dialogue and participation (Campbell et.al. 2007). Although community members are given information, it is not explained to ensure that they understand the logic and rationale behind it. For instance, if this method was used to educate members concerning diabetes, they could be given fliers and leaflets to read. However, there is no avenue for clarification, and it may lead people either poorly interpreting the information or completely ignoring it. Luckily, this method was not in use at SHARP.
The second method is through consultation with individuals about potential community-based activities. It works using surveys, focus groups or public submissions (DHHS n.d.). Organisers or leaders of community organisations consult individuals in the community and get their feedback through the mentioned methods when the need arises. It is also limited in the form of communication it allows, although it is effective when a decision requires the input of the community. Community health can also be promoted through involvement. This method is used to explore issues where it may be necessary to track progress or to come up with new policies that may be beneficial to the community (Baum et. al. 2006). For instance, if there were a drug problem in the society, community involvement would take the form of committees and workshops to come up with ways to combat the problem. This method is used with complex issues such as substance abuse.
The method used at SHARP is community collaboration. This is where an organisation partners with the community to develop an agenda that will promote the health of the community. It requires an extended period for the proposed plan to take effect, and it is carried out over a long time. It can work through the use of committees and strategic advisory boards where the community members define their goals and participate in the decision-making process to address a common health issue (DHHS n.d.). In this case, SHARP has established a centre that collaborates with the community and applies skills and resources that are useful in influencing the social determinants of health to meet the needs of the community.
For their model to work, SHARP has acquired knowledge and understanding of the community such that they are aware of their needs and priorities and any barriers that may interfere with their initiatives. They engage people with different skills that are required to make community collaboration effective. For instance, they have people good at mediation and advocacy, as well as those good at listening and empathising, which is useful in community participation. During my visit, I was able to put some of my skills into practice, such as my practical skills. I was required to engage members of the community and raise awareness about some of the significant health issues through dialogue. This required me to participate in discussion groups where I had to dialogue with and convince the members, putting to use my communication skills. I had to demonstrate my knowledge of the issues being discussed, or else I would not be capable of passing my message.
I was also required to show my observational and research skills since I needed to identify the significant problems facing the area that I needed to address. To participate in community collaboration, I needed to be aware of and to use my knowledge of community services such as volunteer work. I engaged voluntarily with the community using the mechanisms put in place by SHARP to deliver information on health education.
My time at SHARP made me aware of the challenges facing organisations involved in community health improvement. The major ones concern the social, economic, political and cultural issues (Shoultz et. al. 2006). Most of these arise due to differences in the priorities and perspectives of the members of the organisation and the affected community. In some cases, initiating a change in behaviour that will result in better health is difficult since some of the negative behaviours are considered a tradition by the society (Anderson et. al. 2003). In other situations, the proposed changes are not acceptable since they may go against someone’s religious, cultural or personal beliefs. There may also be economic challenges since adopting some healthier lifestyles may require more finances to fund the healthy habit. For instance, shopping for healthy food may need more resources and some of the population may not be able to sustain it. Another challenge faced in the practical application of community health is the lack of proper funding for the organisations (Kaiser Commission 2010). The government does not fund most of the community-based organisations and they rely on donors and well- wishers for them to keep on providing their services. They also depend on volunteers who may offer their services such as counselling in the community (Rogers et. al. 2013). With no regular source of income, the quality of service they provide may be compromised, and they may not be effective if this concern is not addressed.
Section (B): Portfolio Evidence (Pre-Visit)
SWOT Analysis (Pre-Visit)
|Strengths Level of educationPersonal traitsI am passionate about what I doI am young and healthy||Weaknesses No previous work experienceLimited educationPoor knowledge of my fieldSome minor character weaknessesI have low confidence in my abilitiesI am too hard on myselfInterference from my social life|
|Opportunities Improving my level of educationDiversify my knowledge to related courses and servicesOpportunity to progress in my fieldI am young, and I have the opportunity to growSeveral training opportunities are availableNumerous job opportunities matching my skills||Threats CompetitionNegative government policiesIt may be difficult to balance between work and studyFinancial constraintsSlow upward pace in the industry|
To be successful in my chosen field, I need to be able to identify my strengths and weaknesses, as well as any threats and opportunities that may be present. Once I have identified them, I can use them to my advantage and build on my desirable traits while working on my weaknesses. It also becomes possible to overcome any potential threats and obstacles and progress in my career (Sincy 2016). My personal strengths include my level of education, which is an asset in my field. Through my studies, I have acquired knowledge that will place me ahead of the pack in the marketplace. I have gained skills that will be beneficial in any workplace. Added to this, I am passionate in all I do, which makes me every efficient. Over time, I have realised that carrying out my tasks with passion and zeal gives me a competitive edge over others since it presents the right attitude, and my work is often superior to theirs. Therefore, I think this is one of my major strengths. I am also young and healthy, which means that I am energetic and capable of extending myself at my work. Most people might not consider this strength, but I know that it is easier to advance one’s career in their youth than when they are elderly. I also think that this a major strength and I often use it to my advantage, such as taking extra classes and participating in the diverse portfolio- building activities when I have the energy to do so.
My other strengths stem from my personality. For example, I have an open mind, and I quickly adapt to situations. I identified this trait during my time as a student, and I noticed that it made me more efficient and productive at my tasks. This quality is important in a dynamic world that is constantly changing and being open to new ideas and quickly adaptable to new situations is an essential strength. Even in my career, there may be innovations and ideas that are generated, and I will need to adapt to them quickly so as to stay current in my field (Flynn and Smith 2007).
Another personal strength is my organisation skill. I can plan my schedule well to ensure that I meet all my obligations. I am a good time manager, and I value my time as well as others’ time. I understand that I may have to interact with high flying CEO’s and directors, and I have trained myself to be punctual and to avoid procrastinating my duties. As a student, this has served me well since I have always submitted my assignments on time, and I have always been prepared for ant tests and exams since I studied early. Based on this, I believe that this will be an asset to me in my career.
Despite my strengths, I have a few weaknesses that prevent me from competing effectively with others. The main weakness is that I lack the relevant work experience. This may be a hindrance when venturing into the job- market since people are usually reluctant to hire someone without experience. Due to this, I have limited knowledge of the workplace and some of the intricacies of my field. However, I am not too concerned about this since I know that I can remedy this in a few years. My lack of experience has affected my confidence in my abilities, especially when working with more accomplished superiors. I am aware that this may have negative consequence since it may affect my ability to carry out my tasks, which may reflect negatively on me.
My relevant character flaw is that I am a perfectionist in nature. Ideally, it may seem like a desirable trait, but I have discovered that it is a hindrance to my development. I am not content with achieving satisfactory results, and I always expect excellence from myself and others. As a result, I do not know when to give up on a task, and I may expend a lot of time, energy, and resources. I may also cause discord, especially when working in a team, since I may set unrealistic standards. Though I mentioned that my age is one of my strengths, I also consider it a significant weakness. As a young person, I desire to fit in with my friends and engage in fun activities, which may affect my efforts to develop my portfolio. I often have to make difficult decisions about whether to focus on my school work or to engage in extracurricular activities. Nonetheless, I have learned that I need to strike a balance so that I do not miss out on any of these activities.
I began this module with a few expectations in mind. First off, I wanted to gain experience working in a realistic setting offering health services. I knew this would be possible through my visit to SHARP. I also wanted to put the skills I had learned in class to practice. I know that if not put to use, the skills may be quickly forgotten. I also wanted to survey the field and identify possible opportunities for growth or entry into the job market. I knew that I would meet advanced and knowledgeable peers who could offer practical guidance and steps that would be useful as I chart my career plan. I also welcomed this opportunity to network with people in the same field and get valuable contacts, which I am sure, will be useful in future.
To achieve my objectives, I have decided to be committed to my volunteer program. I will learn as much as possible during this time, and ask questions where necessary. I will identify a qualified person who can act as my mentor at the institute and show me the way around and offer me appropriate career guidance. I will also view every opportunity as a learning experience since I know that the skills I apply and learn will be useful to me in the future.
Pre-Visit Covering Letter
ShARP, 17 Beatrice Terrace,
Houghton Le Spring.
Tyne & Wear,
Ref: INTRODUCTION LETTER
My name is [insert name]. I am a student at [name of institution] studying [name of course] in my [level of study]. I am scheduled to report as a volunteer at SHARP in a few weeks time, and this is a brief letter introducing myself and confirming that I will report to your institution on the agreed date.
This will be my first time volunteering at a community-based organisation that is focused on improving the overall health of the community and apart from my school work, I have no previous experience. Since I am eager for practical work experience, I decided to volunteer at your organisation.
This is an exciting opportunity for me, and I look forward to meeting you.
Section (C): Portfolio Evidence (Post-Visit)
SWOT Analysis (Post-Visit) – what have you learned about yourself?
|Strengths Level of educationLively and interactive personalityGood listenerAdapt easily to diverse situations||Weaknesses Lack of relevant work experienceDisconnected from the industryPeople do not take me seriously|
|Opportunities Numerous scholarship opportunitiesJob vacancies in the fieldWilling and able mentorsEasy to build social networksDiverse career path||Threats Competition from peersLack of resources to progress in my educationDifficult to balance between social and work life|
Action Plan 2840
The visit to SHARP was useful in that it helped me learn a lot about myself that would not have been possible otherwise. For instance, I realised that my education is an important asset and that it I should be proud of it. I have acquired numerous skills that most of the staff who had not undergone the same training I have envied. I found myself sharing my knowledge with people more experienced than I was, but who had not had the privilege of a good education. I also discovered that I have good interpersonal skills which are essential for such a setting. I had to meet and interact with new people regularly, and these skills were extremely helpful.
However, as noted earlier, my lack of relevant work experience is a huge setback, and this became more evident at SHARP, especially among the patients (Halfer and Graf 2006; Spence et. al. 2009). They all wanted to know my track record before engaging with me, and they were also sceptical because of my age. Despite this, I know that it is a barrier I can easily overcome with time. My visit to SHARP helped me interact with accomplished superiors, who helped me build social networks that will be useful in future. I have also discovered that there are numerous opportunities to build myself such as scholarships and even sponsorship from various institutions. This is something I am going to follow up on since it is my desire to increase my qualifications so that I have a higher bargaining power in the industry.
My visit to SHARP was successful since I was able to develop myself professionally while giving back to the community. I believe that I was successful and that I made a good impression to the staff. Next time, however, I will be more confident of my skills and not be intimidated by the patients since I am in a position to help them. I will be more assertive, authoritative and confident when discussing my subject matter since I have realised that this has a major influence on how people perceive me.
My visit to SHARP was very fulfilling since I had the opportunity to participate in improving the health of the community while developing my skills. I got to learn about the diverse needs of the community in a practical setting and also apply my skills. Most of the challenges facing the community could be traced to a lack of knowledge concerning the services and facilities provided by the government. SHARP is a resource group that equips the community with the information that they need to improve their social and economic standing and as a result, improve their health.
During my visit, I learned that SHARP is a well-structured organisation that makes it efficient in service delivery. They have an executive board as well as staff who have well-defined duties. As a result, there was no duplication of functions, neither was there a vacuum, and the activities were organised well. I learned from this that how an organisation is run will have a great impact on the quality of service they deliver (Weil and Kimball 2010).
As mentioned, SHARP works be equipping the members of the community. They are divided into different sections, each with a specific mandate. For example, they provide advice and guidance to members on issues such as welfare benefits, debt management, housing and employment. At first, I was shocked since I could not find the connection between the advice offered and the health of the community. I later made the connection that these are the social determinants of health. The counselling and guidance provided are meant to equip the members with financial management skills, which will enable them to meet their basic needs such as food and clothing, which are essential for good health. Good financial management will also make it possible for them to get appropriate health care when the need arises.
The organisation also provides access to training to the community, and they also provide child care. This is especially useful for working mothers since childcare is expensive and unreliable. Through this, they help parents get to work and earn an income while providing reliable childcare services. They also provide employment support to the community. They do this through counselling where they advise members on the relevant job opportunities available to them and any other openings that may benefit them. Part of their work also includes giving service to the elderly who may not have anyone to take care of them. They also develop the community through activities such as community clean up and building infrastructure that will benefit the society.
I discovered that health care providers have a role to play in improving the health of the community through education and training (Delbanco et. al. 2001). Many of the health issues presented could have been avoided if the individuals had received training on prevention mechanisms at an early stage. The education provided by the counsellors was also useful in that it gave a way to cope with most of the ailments and chronic conditions that were reported (Viswanathan et. al. 2009). For example, among the elderly, they gave training on how to alleviate body pain through regular stretching exercises to avoid becoming dependent on pain medication. I was also able to learn a lot, for instance, how to place pressure on the legs instead of the back when lifting heavy items to avoid chronic back pains.
At times, patients had more severe conditions that could not be handled at the centre due to the limited resources, and it was the role of the health care provider to refer the patient to an appropriate facility that could assist them. Such referrals were useful since most people in the community are not well informed about the services that are available to them, and what they should expect from government facilities (Green et. al. 2009). For example, the advise they give on welfare rights is useful to the underprivileged in the society who in many cases do not have access to this information. Through my visit, I realised that the most effective way of improving the health of the community is through education. I, however, noticed on weakness, in that they did not place emphasis on mental health and counselling. Studies show that this is a concern in the country, with many people suffering from anxiety and depression that often goes untreated. This is an area that should be considered in future and counselling services specific to mental illnesses should be made available to ensure the complete health of an individual.
Through its’ activities, SHARP is helping the Department of Health (DH) meet its objective of ensuring that people receive the relevant care and treatment they require in a dignified and respectable well (Department of Health 2016). One of the responsibilities of the DH is to prevent ill health and enable people live and lead healthier lifestyles, which is also a key aim of SHARP. Through its advisory activities, the organisation has programs that target the different groups in the society and provides advice on how to prevent disease and lead a healthy life. Their staff is efficient, and they provide a secure atmosphere where the patients feel free to confide in them. Confidentiality is an essential aspect of the process, and i is taken seriously at the centre.
I believe that my visit will influence how I practice in future since I have experienced first- hand how a pleasant bedside manner is helpful to both the patient and practitioner (Fletcher et. al. 2005; Weissmann et. al. 2006). Though my non- verbal cues were not poor, I have become conscious of the effect they have on patients, and I am working to improve on them. I have learned that I will be the primary source of health-related information for my patient and I should be willing to advise my patients accordingly. My time at SHARP has shown me the importance of following up patients, since at times, they are reluctant to implement the changes agreed on, and they need someone to motivate them and reassure them before they put in place any lifestyle changes (Vuori et. al. 2013). While I realise that follow-up is important, I understand that it may not be possible in a busy hospital setting. Such facilities should have mechanisms in place that follows up their patients to ensure that they are doing well. Though I am not in a position to put the plan in action, it is one of my objectives once I get to the relevant position of leadership.
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