- The profile and needs of new communities will change as they evolve. Monitoring is necessary to identify the changing needs of the growing community so that adjustments and continuing improvement can made throughout the life of a development. Mental health issues have been one of the greatest concerns in recent new settlements in the county.
An important criterion for a health indicator is that it should be based on data of sufficient quality in terms of: its availability, coverage, sample size, accuracy and frequency of collection. Data sources for monitoring health and wellbeing are either routine statistics or surveys.
Existing data sources and surveys such as the Place Survey are not sensitive to the rapid changes that may occur in new communities and are not feasible for monitoring health and wellbeing in the population sizes typically involved such as in Cambridge Southern Fringe or St Neots eastern expansion.
The measurement and monitoring of mental health and wellbeing can in itself be an important aspect of community development of new communities. The ‘People Assessing Their Health’ (PATH) project in Canada is one such approach. This is a facilitated approach where the community identifies the issues of importance to them and selects the indicators to be used.
The potential for collecting timely information about issues that matter to the community using standard tools such as Place Survey questions has been shown to be feasible in North Huntingdon. If community members volunteer their time and skills this can reduce cost while increasing levels of participation, volunteering and civic engagement. Response rates from so called “hard to reach” groups may also be improved by this approach.
 Building Communities that are Healthy and Well in Cambridgeshire, Cambridge City and South Cambs Improving Health Partnership with Cambridge Council for Voluntary Services (June 2008). http://www.cambridgeshire.nhs.uk/Your-health/document-finder.htm