The link between deprivation and health inequalities is well documented. Our tenants reside in areas of high deprivation with a high number of health inequalities. Our staff have access to some of the most vulnerable people and Making Every Contact Count (MECC) equips them with the skills to identify opportunities to help tenants to access appropriate services.
Our aim is to help people make healthier lifestyle choices and prevent long term conditions such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and poor mental wellbeing.
Prevention, health and wellbeing and the mitigation of health inequalities are key national and regional priorities for the future of our nation and for the NHS. This was highlighted in the ‘Fair Society, Healthy Lives’ Marmot review. Making Every Contact Count (MECC) has been developed as a key public health strategy designed to meet these needs.
The training equips frontline staff who have contact with the most vulnerable residents in the borough, who aren’t accessing health services and would benefit from help to make healthier lifestyle choices.
MECC is an approach to improving health and reducing health inequalities developed by the NHS and local government. Every contact with a customer should be seen as an opportunity to encourage healthier lifestyle choices. But tackling sensitive issues such as weight loss, smoking cessation or alcohol abuse requires expertise, confidence and knowledge in order to deliver the message effectively.
MECC, including behaviour change interventions, can lead to improvements in people’s health and wellbeing, reduce avoidable premature mortality linked to poor lifestyle choices, improve health and wellbeing and help people better manage long term conditions.
So far 85 staff have accessed this training with the planned roll-out to another 335 throughout the year. This will have a ripple effect of Healthy Chats and signposting to health services which is difficult to measure. However, initial feedback from staff has been that they have found the training very useful and 98% of participants have said they will use it in their role. If each trained employee has just one conversation a month with a tenant, 765 tenants will already have benefitted this financial year.
The training also encourages staff to make healthier lifestyle choices for themselves and their families. 24% of staff have taken steps to increase their activity since accessing the course.
Using the HACT toolkit we have calculated a social value of £165,305 from increasing the knowledge across the workforce
The training was developed in partnership with Liverpool Community Health Development Nurses, connecting community-based services from across Sefton. The development of this network enabled access to a wider variety of knowledge and experience whilst using resources more effectively and economically.
Working in partnership has widened the reach of the training and ensures consistent information is given. Working in partnership to promote the use of the Healthy Sefton service ensures that the information people are signposted to remains up to date and relevant to tenants whilst making good use of a service which is health funded and has previously been under used.
Our staff regularly visit tenants, some of whom are particularly vulnerable and would benefit from healthy lifestyle interventions. We see people in their homes, which provides a level of insight which cannot be gained from an appointment in an external venue. Our staff are ideally placed to have ‘Healthy Chats’ with tenants and the MECC training provides them with the skills and knowledge to have these conversations.
Skilling our workforce so that they are comfortable talking to tenants about lifestyle change opens up access to over 12,000 people living in areas of high need, encouraging healthy lifestyle changes and signposting to health services which can assist them in making the changes.
Our contribution to improving health
The training we deliver encourages people to take charge of their health and make choices which reduce risk factors for a number of long term conditions, and improve quality of life for those with conditions. This correlates with two of the outcomes highlighted on the NHS outcomes framework:
- preventing people from dying prematurely
- enhancing quality of life for people with long term conditions.
The initiative contributes to the aims set out in the Public Health outcomes framework. In particular ‘health improvement’ through promoting smoking cessation, encouraging breastfeeding, reducing obesity and increasing physical activity.
The initiative also focuses on services to support people with dementia to live well, which contributes to NHS and Public Health outcomes.
The promotion of good mental wellbeing and support services available for those suffering from anxiety and depression contributes to the aim of reducing suicide rates, particularly among men, which has been highlighted as a priority by Public Health.