With growing concerns about the rise in obesity levels, and other risk factors such as smoking, physical inactivity and high blood pressure, NHS Arden & GEM Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) worked with partners across the county to develop a campaign to reduce the causes of preventable death by encouraging people to adopt healthier lifestyles.
Partnering with West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Leicestershire County Council, Healthwatch Leicestershire, Voluntary Action LeicesterShire and Patient Participation Groups, we developed a strategy to raise the profile and benefits of prevention and self care for local citizens, particularly focusing on people in high risk groups.
One of the biggest challenges we faced was generating a sense of urgency. We had to reach and motivate people who may be feeling perfectly fine but who were putting themselves at risk of health problems in the future.
Modern lifestyles of growing concern
Some of the main risks to health are due to lifestyle, with high blood pressure, smoking, cholesterol, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption being the top seven causes of preventable death.
Along with more sedentary lifestyles, increased alcohol consumption and diets laden with fat and sugar, there is a continuing need to educate the public about the risks to their current and future health and encourage positive action.
From the outset, our campaign focused on educating those most at risk and enabling people to make practical and achievable changes to minimise long-term health consequences.
Using the concept of New Year’s resolutions to spur people into a healthier 2015, the campaign approach included:
- Mini health-checks (blood pressure check, body mass index and lifestyle advice)
- Advice for people with mental health issues on how to remain positive over Christmas and improve their wellbeing
- Signposting to the right local health and social care services
- Communicating the messages of prevention and self-management.
Delivering the message
The face to face activity centred on a branded New Start, New You health bus which toured busy locations. Health and social care staff encouraged members of the public to ‘come aboard’ the bus for a mini health-check and useful information about local services.
A new area on West Leicestershire CCG’s website was created to support the campaign, including tips for healthy living and information about the dangers of smoking and excessive drinking.
Local media relations highlighted top tips around mental health and staying positive over Christmas, while social media channels were used to promote messages, events and activities throughout the campaign.
Making a new start
During the New Start, New You campaign week, we spoke to more than 3,000 people at various events and carried out more than 250 mini health-checks aboard the health bus. In the days following the main campaign week, more than 87% of people attended a local smoking cessation service to try and quit their habit.
Press coverage supported awareness of the campaign, reaching nearly 516 local media readers and 202,000 radio listeners. Social media activity delivered 190,000 impressions of campaign related messages.
The campaign had a number of wider benefits, including forging stronger relationships with partners in the area. For example, Healthwatch engaged with more than 160 people over the course of the campaign. Voluntary Action LeicesterShire was also to engage with the public about the benefits of volunteering to wellbeing.
A follow up campaign ‘Healthy You, Happy You’ is already underway, targeting specific areas of health deprivation with a focus on smoking, obesity and sexual health, enabling a joint approach to engaging with the public on health issues.
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