We know that a healthy start in life can affect a person’s long-term health for this reason high incidences of low birth weight, which are seen in some of the more deprived areas of the two local authority areas are of concern. Teenage pregnancy, where we have seen an improving trend remains of concern because of the link with poorer health outcomes for both mother and baby.
From childhood and throughout adulthood, personal choice and life style factors also play a key role in determining health. We see high levels obesity, alcohol consumption and smoking that are common throughout Western World. There is some evidence of concentrations of particular poor life expectancy outcomes among certain geographical communities and among people from particular backgrounds or with particular characteristics although further work is required to develop a firmer understanding. Further information can be found in the North Wales Public Health Directory and in the topic pages of this site.
We also know that a person’s physical environmental plays a key role with poor health associated with homelessness, poor quality accommodation and fuel poverty. By the same token poverty, joblessness and personal safety, all affect a person’s physical and mental health.
Social isolation can reduce independence and damage mental health in particular, but can also lead to problems with physical health if services such as GPs, dentists and active leisure and social opportunities are inaccessible. There are particular concerns about social isolation of older people throughout the two counties. The rural nature of both local authority areas mean that both have areas with poor access to services from a travel and transport perspective. We also observe areas and groups of people with poor levels access to digital technology which may also contribute to social isolation.
Both Conwy and Denbighshire have large populations over the age of 65 with population projections suggesting substantial and continued growth in the number of older people and the percentage of older people in the population of each county. Increasing numbers of older people is likely to lead to an increasing number of people experiencing age related problems such as, chronic physical and sensory diseases, dementia and falls. All of which have potential negative impact on peoples overall wellbeing.
We have seen, and expect to continue to see rising demand for health and social care services at the same time as experiencing recruitment problems in both of these key sectors.
In this context the support needs of carers also need to be considered. Census data shows Conwy and Denbighshire have high numbers of people providing unpaid care with numbers much larger than appear to be known to health and care service providers.