Day 30 - Southam (24/10/2017)

Nice change of pace today - our CBL contingent headed to a GP surgery in Southam, a small town south of Leamington. This is where we'll be based for our community days, during which we'll be interviewing patients in the local area about their conditions. In particular, the focus is to be on how their daily lives are affected by ill health, within the context of the support services and amenities available to them in Southam itself.

In the morning we had our 'induction' of sorts, running through the basics of patient confidentiality, what will be expected of us and what our objectives will be. The main purpose of this seems to be for future reflection, to remind us that medicine takes place within a societal context and not simply in the sterile vacuum of a hospital.

We split into smaller groups, each with a particular scenario to explore. In our case this was a (hypothetical) elderly lady with early dementia and osteoarthritis, so we tracked up to the address provided and explored what options were available for her locally. There were plenty of support groups, events and the like, as well as a voluntary drivers' scheme which would be invaluable for her getting around.

Someone's really outdone themselves here

Someone's really outdone themselves here

This was followed by lunch at a very nice local pub, The Bowling Green - ham, egg and chips in my case. A wholesome interlude really, and not something I'm particularly used to in the middle of an 'academic work' day. We were reminded throughout the day that we were being considered as 'adult learners', and I suppose that's true - it's a graduate course, so we're all expected to manage our own behaviour accordingly.

After our wander we returned to the surgery to deliver our health profile presentations. My contributions were mainly focused on prevalence of particular diseases in the area relative to the national population, with my colleagues providing similar comparisons for other factors such as education, employment and age. Essentially, Southam is quite a well-to-do, relatively highly educated area with little heterogeneity. It seems to be a popular retirement area, with an ageing population settling down in the middle of the countryside.

The Bowling Green

The Bowling Green

It was a worthwhile day all in all - in reflections at the end of the day, I noted that if I'd been given the chance to simply go and interview a patient immediately without this prep day, I very likely would have done. However, physically seeing for myself the sorts of considerations that would have to be made for elderly patients in the town was very eye-opening. You couldn't simply perform an operation and boot them from hospital back home - how would they be able to manage for themselves? What if the local transport services were insufficient for early-morning NHS appointments?

Didn't take a caffeine tablet this morning, thankfully, but felt very lethargic when I got home. Beginnings of a migraine came on and decided to go to bed early - unfortunately I missed my student seminar, but I have asked for a copy of the notes and I wouldn't have been able to concentrate anyway. 8am start tomorrow, and more community skills in the afternoon.