Last week, I attended a great conference held by Planning Aid Scotland on Exploring Patrick Geddes in the 21st century. For those that may not know, Patrick Geddes was a Scot and a pioneer of urban planning. He saw the benefits of having open spaces such as courtyards instead of tight alleys, and championed their use throughout his life and career.
He believed that open space was a more humane and economical way of living. While his name is perhaps not as well-known as it should be, his teachings and influence can be seen in current planning across Scotland, as the Scottish Government takes forward policy to ensure communities are the very best they can be.
This is where the worlds of Patrick Geddes and community nursing collide. His keenness for a healthy environment for people to live in merges beautifully with community nursing. Health and care are vital aspects of what can be considered a community, and improved community spaces lead to the best environment for improving health and wellbeing.
When Audit Scotland published their report on Community Planning, they made it clear that local communities needed a “strong voice in planning, delivering and assessing local public services.” In our manifesto for the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections, QNIS called for the Place Standards to be given due consideration in every planning decision to help locate this voice and to improve communities for the people living within them. The Scottish Government Place Standards help communities provide feedback on what they want for their ‘place’. Community nurses have a role here too, ensuring that the voice of those seldom heard, the most marginalised in society, is given its place.
When attending events like these, there are often surprised looks when told that it is community nursing being represented. More often than not, however, surprise makes way for realisation, as it becomes clear that the role of community nurses extends far beyond health and social care.