Primary Health Care is a model that can be adapted to the health problems, the culture, the way of life and the stage of development reached by the community. It aims to enable individuals and organisations through informed health care, self help and mutual aid. . It includes a space for Traveller participation and potential employment. The model requires time.
It is characterised by community participation; a process through which Travellers will gain more control over the social, economic and environmental factors that determine their health. The community must participate at every stage of the process – assessment, defining problems, setting priorities, implementing activities and evaluating results.
We have been working as primary healthcare workers for the past five years and we have found that during those years we have been kept busy both on and off site.
When we first started we got the feeling that people were very cautious and apprehensive but as time went on we began to build relationships with them and now five years down the road we are making great progress. Travellers on site really feel that they are being listened to with their concerns and more importantly it is Travellers working with Travellers and for Travellers.
Over the years we have met lots of new people and created some very strong links at a local and national level. We are in our own way role models for the community and we hope when other people see us that they can get the confidence and support to look after their health and not be afraid to ask questions in relation to their health.
Over time we have seen how important it is to look after your health. We have seen an amazing uptake of women’s health services. The children’s health initiatives are always ongoing with regard to vaccinations and other childhood illnesses, so we are constantly updating our information and delivering to the families on site. More recently, we have been actively encouraging the men to take a more positive interest in their own health and have had a Men’s Health Day where over twenty men turned up to get a health screening.
Working as community health care workers can be very hard but it is very rewarding, especially when you receive positive feedback from the health services with regard to the uptake of the services in the area.
Best wishes from all the community health care workers.
Nancy, Tina, Moll, Rosaleen, Ellie and Helen