Wellness & Life Science Village is “Big” for Region
A revolutionary Carmarthenshire scheme to regenerate Llanelli is pushing ahead at pace and has laid out some pioneering ideas for improving the health of the entire region.
The Carmarthenshire Council-led project to create a Wellness and Life Science Village at Delta Lakes, through the ARCH health programme, is starting to become a reality as work now begins to scope out the exact details of the multi-million pound scheme.
ARCH (A Regional Collaboration for Health) is a unique partnership between Hywel Dda and ABMU health boards and Swansea University. The ARCH region covers the whole of South West Wales and will affect a total of one million people.
The ARCH partners have been working with Carmarthenshire Council to develop their plans to build a new leisure centre in Llanelli. Through innovative thinking, working together to “think outside of the box” and wanting to achieve a common goal of improving the health, wealth and wellbeing of the region, the Llanelli Wellness and Life Science Village has grown from a simple idea to a ground-breaking reality.
Carmarthenshire Councillor Meryl Gravell, who is chair of the ARCH Wellness and Wellbeing working group, has been a driving force in not only developing the idea for the wellness village, but in making sure it is delivered. And her innovation and commitment to the project is now bearing fruit as the partners look to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to continue the project.
Councillor Gravell said:
“This MoU allows each of the partners involved in the project to begin more detailed work into the finer details of what will be included in the village.
“Carmarthenshire Council and the ARCH partners have now also agreed to jointly fund a project manager position which we will be recruiting for imminently.”
Councillor Gravell said she is delighted by the forward-thinking nature of the project, and added that the ambitious project will not only be the first of its kind for Wales, but also for the UK.
Councillor Gravell said: “We knew as a council that we needed to invest in building a new leisure centre facility in Llanelli. Following a round table event held by the ARCH partners last year, which discussed the wellness agenda in Wales, we saw an opportunity to work together and think in very a different way. And now, less than 7 months on, we are proving that when we work together with an open mind – anything is possible.
“For far too long in Wales, we have accepted second best. This project is indeed ambitious but it shows we are aiming high.
“In just under a year, this kind of blue sky thinking encouraged by the ARCH programme, has actually started to take shape.”
Councillor Gravell said the wellness agenda was a key driver in the project saying: “We must take the pressure off the local health boards. Prevention and personal responsibility for wellness and wellbeing is vital for our communities.”
Hywel Dda’s Executive lead for ARCH, Professor Kathryn Davies, added that the wellness village would allow the region to fundamentally transform the way it delivers care.
“We must re-think the health¬care system and change the nature of Healthcare professionals from being less like ‘fixers’ and more like ‘coaches.’
“There is a need to rebalance the approach from only treating ill health and disease reactively and start focusing on lifelong lifestyle changes. We want to work with the whole community to support individuals make healthy life choices for themselves and their families.
“The Delta Lakes project shows the importance of a collabora¬tive transparent approach between all sectors. To achieve a real step-change in the health of our communities, we must understand the impact wellness has on all areas and sectors – medi¬cine, research, education, sport, community public health hospitality, business and commerce.”
She added: ’’Hywel Dda University Health Board wants to see this development place local GPs, supported by multi professional Primary Care teams at the heart of the development. We want to see the skills of pharmacists, therapists, psychologists, exercise/sports therapists, eye and dental care staff working within this development all supporting people to live long and healthy lives in the way they choose to do so.’’
“There are five ways to wellness: connecting with others, being physically active, ongoing learning, mindfulness and giving. These wide-ranging wellness principles need to be put into every day practice to have impact.
“ARCH will help this happen through projects such as Delta Lakes.”
The value of the scheme was initially estimated at £60million, it is now thought that the total investment in the area will be far greater.
Meryl added: “There is much work to be done in terms of the feasibility but I think it is fair to say we hope we will see an investment into the area of in excess of £100million. As well as improving health in the area, we are keen to see this project help boost the local economy and create new jobs. We could be looking at many highly-paid jobs being created here in Carmarthenshire as a result of this scheme.”
Work has now begun to detail what will be included at the site, but elements which may potentially be included are state-of-the-art wellness/leisure centre, hydrotherapy pool, Institute of Life [email protected] Hywel Dda, expansion of the Joint Clinical Research Facility (J-CRF) to recruit for clinical trials, a Health & Wellbeing Centre as well as hotel and conferencing and high spec business facilities.
Councillor Gravell, who is vice-chair of the Swansea Bay City Region Board, reiterated the role of partnership working and how important it has been in putting this regional project together.
“I feel we are being braver because we are doing it together. The ARCH ethos is built on collaboration and innovation – and this project really is collaboration at its best. This project is a game-changer for our region.
“This is big,” she added.