Carly Watson is a member of the strategy and planning team in NHS England’s New Care Models Programme. She recently visited us at Tower Hamlets Together, and attended our Making Every Contact Count (MECC) event. Read on to discover what she thought about our work to integrate health and social care for the benefit of our local population.
I recently attended the Tower Hamlets Making Every Contact Count (MECC) event. The event was to celebrate the success of the initiative in Tower Hamlets and to launch the MECC Communities of Practice.
MECC is about giving people the skills and confidence to have a conversation about health and wellbeing with borough residents and to be able to signpost them to the right support e.g. smoking cessation, support with alcohol or substance misuse, improving health and lifestyle choices. Having that conversation is the first step towards behaviour change.
The event was led by the Tower Hamlets Together vanguard programme and attendees ranged from all over the borough: e.g. voluntary/charity members, housing officers, Barts Health staff, sexual health teams, mental health and commissioning staff reflecting the broad integration of care and support that is promoted by the programme.
The event kicked off with a presentation on the success of the initiative. Positive statistics cited included 95% of the trainers who undertook the course reported improved knowledge, 90% reported improved confidence in talking about health and 49% of trainers made healthy changes to their own lives after completing the course. Such statistics are no mean feat when you consider Tower Hamlets has put 886 people through the MECC training so far! The next step in evaluating the programme’s impact is to capture the effect conversations have had on resident’s lives in terms of improvements in their health and wellbeing.
What is really great about the MECC training is you don’t have to work in a role that traditionally promotes health, importantly the course is open to people from all backgrounds such as the fire brigade, psychologists, police force, education sector and the voluntary sector. This inclusiveness gives the programme a broad reach across many sectors. In this way, the programme can be seen as utilising existing frontline community staff by adding to their skill set, getting the confidence to talk about health and wellbeing, which they can use to support residents of Tower Hamlets to change their lifestyle choices and make improvements to their overall health and wellbeing.
I found the MECC event to be a really refreshing and eye-opening afternoon. It is obvious that preventative initiatives such as MECC can have a meaningful impact on people’s wellbeing, as evidenced for instance by the positive behavioural changes cited by trainers after completing the course.
Importantly, MECC is just one item on Tower Hamlets Together’s transformation agenda, which is starting to see real system impact as evidenced by recent findings showing Tower Hamlets as experiencing lower growth in emergency admission rates than the rest of England during 2016 and 2017, and a decrease in the GP referral rates. I am sure Tower Hamlets will succeed in its ambitions to transform health and care services for the benefit of its residents.