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The health tutor makes his debut in Brianza

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The health tutor makes his debut in Brianza

It is not always true that “health comes first”. Sometimes, due to life’s difficulties, even health is put on the back burner. There are objective fragilities that distance one from treatment or prevention paths: a precarious economic situation, an unhealthy home, loneliness… but also the difficulty of understanding in accessing services affect physical and psychological well-being or the refusal to seek treatment. They are called “non-medical factors” but they still impact people’s state of health. Social and health integration is the necessary strategy to support those who experience these conditions and in these situations a figure capable of intercepting and then helping the most fragile to take care of their health can be fundamental.

The CSV Monza Lecco Sondrio, with the association Le Comuni della Salute, has thus created a new figure: the “Health Tutor”. This is a volunteer capable of acting as a bridge with the health service also through collaboration with the district areas and the social services of the Municipalities. The objective is the creation of a “widespread help desk” in the area, which does not wait for the citizen but seeks him out, meets him, welcomes him and accompanies him. Over 70 people responded to the call, many already active in third sector organizations in the area, others who, out of “good neighbourhood”, in an informal way, have long been involved in helping the elderly or people with disabilities. CSV created a course for them with Asst Brianza and the territorial areas of Brianza, with the patronage of Ats Brianza. Knowledge of the healthcare system and local services, but also the methods of approach are the subject of the training which will end at the end of February.

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Health tutors, who they are and what they do

The predisposition to listen is the first characteristic of tutors. They will have the task of directing people to services, but it is essential to first build a relationship of trust. They will welcome people in Community Houses, operating in a network with doctors and nurses, but they will also try to intercept them in places such as libraries, municipal offices and senior centers. «The national health service is a heritage of everyone. Every citizen contributes, but for some the access difficulties are undeniable”, underlines Filippo Viganò, a long-time general practitioner, now president of Csv Monza Lecco Sondrio and founder of the Community of Health, a voluntary organization created precisely to combat social inequalities that affect health. «The complexity and fragmentation of health services doesn’t help either: with this new figure we try to make them more usable. Here the proximity and trust typical of volunteering, which in itself is already a form of care, combine with specific skills: an interesting mix, which does not replicate the institutions but seeks out those on the margins with its widespread presence. In this way the system is enhanced, for the benefit of everyone.”

The first training meeting of health tutors

The hope is to be able to activate the first tutors by 2024. To reach the entire citizenry, collaboration between all those involved in prevention, assistance, health and the promotion of social well-being is fundamental. «The third sector is the key to doing this. On health issues, social work is necessary to recreate a sense of community. Thinking as part of a system is already creating a system”, concludes Viganò. At the end of the course, each “Health Tutor” will have a personal interview to evaluate the most suitable path. The one planned in Brianza is the first experiment, thanks to the operation of 11 Community Houses and the presence of the Odv Health Community, which has opened four free specialist assistance points with 13 volunteer doctors. The Lecco area has also already shown interest in “Health Tutors”.

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Opening photo of Pexels, Karolina Grabowska

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