Prevention not Prescription
I’d like to start this week’s blog by reflecting on a speech made by Matt Hancock MP, the Health and Social Care Secretary, which should resonate with many of you who are aware of the work we have done both with our Life Rooms models across the region and in our community services in Sefton and Liverpool.
Mr Hancock was addressing the International Association of National Public Health Institutes about his vision to help people make healthier choices. In his speech, which you can read in full here, he explains his philosophy on prevention being better than prescription.
Here at Mersey Care we have made what is called ‘social prescribing’ a priority over the last few years. In other words, providing methods and opportunities for GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to provide different options for their patients rather than writing another prescription. The idea is that there should be a range of local non-clinical services, a go-between if you like between primary care and the community.
As Mr Hancock said in his speech: “Social prescribing is designed to support people with a wide range of social, emotional or practical needs, and many schemes are focussed on improving mental health and physical wellbeing. Those who could benefit from social prescribing schemes include people with mild or long-term mental health problems, vulnerable groups, people who are socially isolated, and those who frequently attend either primary or secondary health care.”
If we were writing a description of what our Life Rooms projects - in Walton and Southport with a new one imminent in Bootle, in association with Hugh Baird College – are all about we could not have provided a more accurate synopsis. They are about helping people to help themselves, providing courses and support to give them confidence and the skills to rebuild their lives and, in some cases, finding them employment. More information about the Life Rooms model can be found on their website.
Hand in hand with that is our work in the community. In Mr Hancock’s speech he outlined Government plans for increasing the proportion of funding on primary and community care. If we are really going to change the NHS over the next few years, community health will be integral to that, taking the pressure off busy acute hospitals and GP surgeries to allow patients to be guided back to full health outside those traditional avenues.
“Good health starts with the right pre-natal care, immunisation, nutritional support, fitness advice, minimising social media and mental health harms, secure employment, financial independence, safe housing, help with bad habits, friends and family to fight loneliness, careful and considered interventions at every stage of life into old age,” he said.
If you look at the list of services we now provide since taking responsibility for community health in Sefton and Liverpool earlier this year, we provide a large proportion of those either through our pathways service run out of the Life Rooms, or in our community division.
Bringing community health and mental health together in one organisation was always an ambition of ours so, for the first time, our population can be treated for all conditions under one roof. Our experiences tell us that quite often physical and mental health issues are related, so to hear the Government prioritise those services is particularly welcome to all of you at Mersey Care that have shared a similar vision.
The annual Remembrance Day celebrations are always poignant, but this year particularly so, as they marked 100 years since the ending of hostilities in the First World War.
I wrote last week about our Chairman. Beatrice Fraenkel, attending a service at our Whalley site, and that was followed by several events at other sites this week to mark the occasion. Below is a picture of a collage produced by Angelee Morgan, a member of our Integrated Community Reablement and Assessment Service (ICRAS), which has been displayed at Liverpool Innovation Park.
There were also events at the Life Rooms Walton and Mossley Hill hospital, while I know many of you attended events in and around Liverpool on Remembrance Day itself.
This Saturday (17 November), Mersey Care is hosting a recruitment event for experienced band 5 or 6 nurses – including those of you already working for the Trust – who are looking to work in physical health, mental health and learning disability specialties.
Please make everyone aware of the event, including your friends, colleagues and anyone else you think it may interest. You can register in advance here and we look forward to welcoming all the new recruits, whether they are current colleagues or from elsewhere, to the Mersey Care family.
There are a couple of different awareness days this week that are very important to the Trust’s strategic objectives and I would ask you all to try and support them where and when you can.
The first is Pressure Ulcer Awareness Day on Thursday, and eliminating them from our care remains a clinical priority. Despite significant progress, pressure ulcers remain a significant health care problem with over 1,300 instances reported across the NHS every month.
A number of frontline staff from across Liverpool and Sefton community division will be raising awareness of pressure ulcers this week and will be visiting sites with information packs and resources and reinforcing the message to staff that prevention is always the best way of finding a cure.
The campaign is asking people to wear a red dot and start a conversation about pressure ulcers and aims to raise healthcare professional and public awareness about the damaging impact of pressure ulcers.
The other awareness campaign is national anti-bullying week, a campaign originally designed to support parents and children in education but with a message that resonates with us all.
I know bullying or inappropriate behaviour in the workplace are real concerns for all of you - our Freedom to Speak Up Guardians, staff side and wellbeing colleagues have told me it’s a recurring theme. We’ve listened and will use the week of 12-16 November to highlight what we have done so far and what we’re going to do.
As part of our Just and Learning Culture we want to empower people to act if they see things going wrong. There’ll be a lot of emphasis on support and several new practical advice videos over the months ahead so we can be clear about how to help and where you can get action.