Health in the hands of local people

Significant changes towards living a healthier lifestyle can be made with a little motivational help from locally-based, community-focused health promotion services, is just one of the key findings of a new Bradford-based report.

Realising Community Assets was commissioned by NHS Bradford City and NHS Bradford Districts clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and researched by Arise Yorkshire Ltd and Ysustain Limited.

Focusing on promotion of self-care and being more proactive about prevention, the report’s six key findings and five recommendations should contribute towards a significant shift in the health economy to a greater focus on a social model of health rather than just a medical model.

The focus on lasting health outcomes for people should help the CCGs commission self-care services that provide tangible social value in the future.

The research team conducted hundreds of interviews with members of the public including those experiencing particularly poor health; specifically white males, older people, African Caribbean people, Central and Eastern Europeans, women from the Asian sub-continent, young people and people with disabilities; as well as health professionals from voluntary and community service organisations (VCS), NHS, public health and adult social care.

A solutions and strengths focused style of questioning called ‘appreciative inquiry’ was used by the research team to identify community-based ways of working that can contribute to more people adopting healthier lifestyles.

Helen Hirst, chief officer of the Bradford CCGs, said: “We have some fantastic community services providing crucial care for local people, and this report shows that by maximising community assets we can start to make the kind of positive impact on health and wellbeing that we want and need.

“We have strong relationships with voluntary and community based organisations but we would like to see them commissioned as integral to the whole care system as they offer a social model of support which empowers people to take more control over their health, leading to lower emergency hospital admissions, reduced death rates and better quality of life for people as well as a more sustainable health and care system.”

Key messages from the research include:

  • Bradford has a rich and vibrant health economy including significant contributions made by the VCS
  • there is an appetite for change from the public as well as VCS and public sector organisations to deliver people-focused services that create lasting outcomes for them
  • the new locally-based accessible services must be designed with input from all concerned including the public, VCS and public service delivery partners
  • people understand public health messages but need a little help to make the first bold step to change their lifestyle.

For more information or a copy of the report, contact info@ysustain.com or click here.