Improving access to NHS health checks
It’s important that NHS and social care services have strong links with the community. This helps make services easier to access and more responsive.
Philippa Russell normally works full-time for Healthwatch, but this year she is based at CANDI (our local mental health trust) for most of the week. As a Mental Health Partnerships Coordinator, her new role is to strengthen links between the trust and the community and help ensure that mental health services can meet the needs of the diverse population in Islington.
Working with Population Health Nurses who are based at the trust, Philippa has been going out to community settings to support the provision of free health checks. This has enabled residents to access a health check in an environment that feels familiar and safe. It’s proved to be a great way of helping people to engage with the idea of physical and mental health.
As well as running sessions with mental health community groups, we're working with local organisations belonging to our Diverse Communities partnership. This has helped us reach residents who are experiencing health inequalities.
Reflecting on the success of the programme so far, Philippa said:
"For me, the key is that we're providing support to people in settings where they feel comfortable. That's so important if you want to reach people. Our GPs provide a great service but face-to-face appointments are not always available and the need for interpreting can be an additional barrier. Appointments also tend to be quite short and you only have time to discuss a single issue. It's very difficult to have a wider-ranging conversation about your health and wellbeing in that situation and sometimes that's what the people we're supporting really need."
What are the benefits for residents?
- This programme enables people who don't have English as a first language to have a relaxed conversation with a nurse, with interpreting provided by someone they trust.
- Residents have the opportunity to talk about their health in a different way than they would do when using statutory health services. There is space for issues of concern, that might not have been raised otherwise, to be shared and explored.
- People who might not want to, or remember to, go to the GP can have an NHS health check and a positive, person-centred experience that might not otherwise be accessible.
Another benefit is that the nurse can make a referral or contact the GP to arrange an appointment if there's a health issue that needs follow-up, if the resident gives consent.
Feedback has been really positive from community groups that have taken part so far.