Interview with Health Trainer Ms Joanna Yeung
Tuesday, 06 December 2016
Among the many direct services provided by the local authority and the NHS to our elderly service users, there is one area that is related to enhancing the wellbeing of the individual and thereby improving health outcomes. This service is delivered by the Health Trainer, and we recently talked to Joanna Yeung, a Chinese-speaking health trainer who works within the community about her work.
CWT: Can you please tell us about your background?
JY: Community engagement has always been a particular focus of my work. I have prior experience in youth and family work, where I helped to facilitate community focus groups and volunteering. I believe in empowering others to help themselves to achieve a better state of health and well-being. My faith has been an important source of guidance. Assisting the vulnerable and disempowered is a central value of mine, and I am grateful that my line of work enables me to deliver a lot of benefit to others.
CWT: What does your work entail as a Health Trainer?
JY: The phrase ‘Improving Health, Changing Lives’ captures the essence of our work as a health trainer. We have one-to-one meetings with clients or conduct group sessions and deliver advice on how to be more active, eat a healthier diet, give up smoking, cut down on alcohol consumption and reduce stress level. It is about helping people to make lifestyle changes to improve overall health, both physical and emotional. We provide practical advice on making better long-term health decisions and the skills necessary to initiate positive changes. We also provide advice and information on the services of the NHS, such as how to book a free NHS health check.
CWT: What are some of the barriers facing older Chinese people to attain a state of better health?
JY: As we all know social care and the public health care system in general is under a huge strain. With an aging population we are seeing a rise in demand for services and yet this is not being met by a proportionate increase in the level of resources. Older Chinese people have the added disadvantage of having language and cultural issues which restrict their ability to exercise choices in areas like food. Unsuitable or inadequate housing can also have a negative impact on their health.
CWT: What can Chinese community organisations do to improve the health and wellbeing of older Chinese?
JY: As an ethnic minority group in Britain, collective action with strong leadership at the grass root level is vital to address the special needs of the Chinese community. We need to be more vocal about the needs of our elderly and seek to work in partnership with like-minded organisations, both within the Chinese community as well as with other local and national agencies. A more joined up working approach is needed.
Within the community we need to consider health improvement as an intergenerational project. We need to engage and mobilise the younger Chinese generation to think ahead of the health needs of their aging parents. Confucius said: "In serving his parents, a filial son reveres them in daily life; he makes them happy while he nourishes them; he takes anxious care of them in sickness; he shows great sorrow over their death that was for him; and he sacrifices to them with solemnity." Supportive familial relationship is vital to good health and sense of wellbeing in old age.