A PICTURE of the lifestyles and health of people living in the Borders is provided by a recent report from the Scottish Public Health Observatory.
By looking at a total of 67 different indicators: from health to social care, participation in sport, environment, crime rate, to employment and the local economy, the health and well-being of the Borders population is laid bare, giving the Borders Community Health Partnership (NHS Borders, Scottish Borders Council and other agencies) a clear indication of where their focus needs to be if the region’s health is to be improved.
The regional profiles highlight health and social inequalities, show trends, support setting priorities and allow comparisons between areas.
Life expectancy for both Borders men and women is signficantly better than the Scottish average but there are pockets of concern that need addressed where the region is significantly worse: the number emergency hospital admissions (26,836); the number of elderly people admitted to hospital (3,259) and the number of elderly people taken to hospital after a fall (877).
Road traffic accident casualty figures are higher than average in the Borders (particularly among the under 24 year olds) and patients requiring hospital treatment for psychiatric conditions was also signficant.
Smoking, alcohol and drug use is included in the ‘health related behaviour’ figures and generally speaking the Borders population did significantly better than the Scottish average for the numbers of none smokers, and marginally better than averge when it came to alcohol use.
But lessons need to be learnt when it comes to the the number of youngsters in the region ending up in hospital because of alcohol and drug use.
And the number of pregnant women who coninue to smoke during their pregnancy suggests that the message about the health risks is just not getting through in some quarters.
It is already widely accepted that the age profile of the Borders is higher than average and that creates demand on some services.
For instance there are significantly more 65+ year olds receiving free care at home (1,111) than the national average, and that figure is expected to rise still further in the coming years.
Despite the region being a low wage area, employment levels are significantly better than average, crime rates are low (although the numbers of people hospitalised after assaults at 298, is an area in need of attention) and the majority of people in the Borders are vey happy living here.
That’s not to say that things couldn’t be improved though, and there are environment issues that cannot be ignored. Too many people in across the region live close to derelict sites (49,913 are within 500m of a derelict site) and a significant number of people (34,458) live in what are described as “access deprived” areas.