‘Jersey isn’t finished,’ I told my friend as they joined the mass exodus. ‘Your time in Jersey is finished. That’s all’

Joanne Reid Rodrigues

By Joanne Reid Rodrigues

FOR a while now, I’ve been aware of how deeply concerned many Islanders are about healthcare in Jersey. Many folks have serious fears about the future. And the hospital saga rages on. The old adage, “after all is said and done there’s a lot said but nothing done” rings loud in Islanders’ ears. When politicians don’t deliver their promises, they lose credibility and people lose trust. When trust is lost, it’s very difficult to win it back.

But I’ve decided to stay optimistic with strong hopes that we’ll get this hospital project moving. And our Opera House too.

I came with my parents to live in Jersey when I was just a young teenager. I’ve had most of my adult life here. I’ve always loved Jersey and when my work took me to the US and parts of the UK, I’ve always been an enthusiastic ambassador for the Island. I’ve seen many cycles come and go. Around the millennium, we had a mass exodus of people. I remember a dear friend telling me: “We’ve got to go. Jersey’s finished.”

“Jersey isn’t finished,” I told her. “Your time in Jersey is finished. That’s all.”

It’s nothing more than life cycles. Moving can be good for the soul. It can bring more experience and expansion.

Yet, no one can deny that the Island has changed since the magical Bergerac days. And not for the better. The cost of living is out of control. The cost of healthy food is nothing shy of a disgrace. Zak and I are quite healthy eaters. In our regular weekly shopping, we don’t buy alcohol, sweets, biscuits or cakes, or anything like that. We’re both vegetarians, so we don’t buy meat, poultry or fish. We do buy organic fruits and vegetables where available to avoid harmful pesticides. It’s fair to say we’re neither of us overeaters. And yet, the cost of our weekly food bill leaves my friends and relatives in the UK in utter shock.

On a recent trip to a lovely town in the UK, I filled a basket with fruits, nuts and a few other groceries. When the cashier told me what I owed, I asked her if she’d actually scanned all of my items and charged me for everything. My basket-load was at least half the price that it would have been here. The cashier was bewildered that I’d found my shopping too cheap. It brought home to me just how out of control prices in Jersey are.

Deep-seated concerns and discontent in varying degrees are becoming a way of life for many Islanders. Widespread chronic low-level stress interferes with people’s sleep patterns, their digestive systems, their cardiovascular health, their brain, their musculoskeletal system and general quality of life. Stress is the source of serious health consequences, since our nervous system is determining to our health.

I believe there’s no such thing as “cheap food”. When our diets include an abundance of ultra-processed foods, we typically feel hungrier and eat more. Obesity and related health consequences cost more to treat.

As prices continue increasing, many folks are planning their exit. Most don’t want to leave Jersey – they have to. There again, I honour the spiritual teaching: “I turned to God when my foundations were shaking, only to discover it was God who was shaking them!” Yes. Sometimes we’re forced out of our comfort zone, and good comes out of it.

Nevertheless, if our new Council of Ministers doesn’t get a grip on the cost of healthy food, or general cost of living, we’re going to lose so many more small services businesses. It’s a fitness or yoga class, or a nice hairdo or spa treatment that gives us all a little more work-life balance and quality of life. But so many small businesses are no longer viable because of increasing overheads.

If we don’t repair our society and make it one that works for everyone, the consequences will be felt by those in the upper financial brackets as well as lower. The phrase “you can’t get the staff” will take on a more serious meaning.

Cleaners are so hard to find since so many who did this work were forced to leave the Island, due to rising rents and food prices.

Many of my friends work in our Hospital in various departments. A common theme in conversations about our new hospital isn’t so much will it ever be built, but rather will there be anyone left to work in it given so many folks are leaving.

It’s not just a new shiny building that’s needed. It’s a new way of bringing management, clinicians and all members of staff to work together for the benefit of the whole. It’s creating an environment where everyone feels valued, from cleaners to surgeons. And it is possible.

The brain is the boss of the physical body. The limbs, hands and feet are the labour. Ideas enter via the brain, and the arms, legs, hands and feet carry out those visions and desires. Our limbs make things happen. In a successful society, industrialists and labourers, managers and workers are all valuable and must work together to benefit the whole.

A successful society can’t be based on an ideology of “them and us”. In the end, there’s only “us”.

When it comes to healthcare, the UK isn’t much better. Many parts of the UK are currently in a worse state than Jersey.

I’m not suggesting we deny or ignore real issues that need attention in our island. But if we predominantly notice all that we don’t like about any particular situation, we’ll build up resentments and annoyances. And in that mindset, we notice only more and more faults. We can balance our viewpoint by reminding ourselves of all the good points of living here.

Jersey is a beautiful island with a warm community and so many good people. In the midst of winter, sometimes we all dream of warmer days. Well, hang on. Spring’s just around the corner…

Joanne Reid Rodrigues is an author, trainer and therapist in nutrition, CBT, PTSD, and stress management. Joanne is available for workplace stress management and private coaching at Health Point Clinic, Suite 2.4B, The Lido Medical Centre. Joanne can be contacted via her website at JoanneRR.com

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