A PLAN to address the health and wellbeing of Malvern residents has been produced by the district council for the first time in a decade.
The three-year strategy was approved by the Overview and Scrutiny committee last Tuesday (November 12).
The 30 page document has been in the works since April when responsibility for public health shifted from the NHS to local authorities.
It shows the town’s population has a much higher proportion of elderly people than the rest of England – 24 per cent compared to 16 per cent – and the district’s percentage of detached homes was almost double that of the national average – 43 per cent to 22.
The two factors are seen as leading causes to Malvern’s health issues.
The rate of people with prostate cancer in the town is worse than the national average while the number of deaths from stroke has been declared ‘much worse’.
The plan is based on the four county-wide health prioritises – mental health, obesity, alcohol and an ageing population – and sets out what services are in place to tackle each issue.
It also establishes actions to be achieved by 2016 which includes supporting 135 over 50s through a befriending scheme and holding an annual showcase event which will provide information to around 400 elderly residents.
More than 30 grants will be awarded to promote independent living and the Citizens Advice Bureau will support 400 volunteers.
In terms of mental health around 120 residents will receive health chats training and physical activity will be promoted as key element to wellbeing.
A forum will also be set up to provide more volunteering opportunities throughout the town.
A community food worker will be appointed to get 200 Pickersleigh residents to eat healthily and access to sport and leisure throughout the district will be prioritised.
Five businesses a year will also receive support to ensure wellbeing in workforces.
Several schemes will be introduced to tackle alcohol abuse including establishing a network of ‘recovery champions’, providing alcohol free activities and spaces as well as marketing campaigns to raise awareness and encourage safe drinking.
Coun John Raine said it was ‘questionable’ that the plan was based on county-wide priorities and stated it did a good job of stating what programmes were in place while ignoring where there were gaps in services.
Coun Tom Wells, responsible for partnership development and health and wellbeing, has worked on the plan and admitted it was ‘unambitious’ but deliverable.
He said the document had a short shelf life and the next plan would be more expansive and focused on Malvern specific needs.
“This is a good start but no more than that. It’s not going revolutionise everything.
“From a standing start six months ago we haven’t done too bad and I am immensely proud of this.
“Its not just a load of strategies, in the past I couldn’t tell if we’d achieved anything, but this has quite clear outcomes.”