Levelling Up Health & Wellbeing
Embedding physical activity across the health and social care systems has been fundamental in Active Essex’s work since the launch of the sectors Fit for the Future strategy. With a clear drive to strengthen the support offered to communities through targeted physical activity interventions, Active Essex have championed and empowered the health system, the sector and organisations and business to support residents physical and mental wellbeing.
As a result of being hosted by the Essex Public Health team, it has enabled a richer and deeper understanding of the system, how it works and how Active Essex are able to distinguish the important role physical activity can play in the county’s agenda of health and wellbeing.
Physical activity can be used as preventative approach for older residents and those who are living with a disability or long-term health condition. Active Essex have been able to highlight this to the health system, through the development of the Able like Mabel resources, the strength and balance initiatives and falls work.
Engage and influence integrated care systems
Active Essex are now engaging with and having regular communications with the county’s 3 ICS’s and in having representation at the local health alliances, this is helping to inform place-based approaches towards embedding physical activity further in the future.
Active Essex’s strengthened relationship with the Essex Public Health team has allowed them to support in the development of the Public Health Accelerator Bid, tailoring the programme, sharing learning and placing physical activity as a key focus to support residents’ health and wellbeing.
Building on this, the Primary Care Networks have helped to support the development of Active Practices across the county, to be equipped to support residents and staff to become active. With 9 Active Practices and 32 parkrun practices now listed on the Active Practice Charter website, Basildon has the highest concentration of all districts.
A strengthened relationship with Public Health
It's important to take time to reflect and understand the learnings from work undertaken, in order to focus on ways to improve in the future.
NHS savings impacted
Savings delayed conversations regarding long term health condition pathways.
Public Health capacity
Learnings from the Essex Local Delivery Pilot capacity roles were shared with alliances.
East England Network
Helps to increase the engagement between national health colleagues and Active Partnerships.
The ICS across Essex
Lots of working groups where physical activity can be embedded, establishing future resource.
Supporting the reconditioning of Essex residents
Following on from the work set out in 2022, the Health and Wellbeing Strategic team have been working in collaboration with health and community partners, to develop informative resources and build fully integrated care pathways for falls prevention. By supporting a number of strength and balance interventions, this is empowering residents to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.
A good example of this has been through the Able Like Mabel resources, which has seen over 30,000 packs distributed across Mid and South Essex and Castle Point and Rochford. This has also included working closely with the Mid and South Essex ICS on the development of a falls support app, which includes Able like Mabel resources and tracks the individuals’ progress. As this is rolled out over the next couple of months, Active Essex hope that they will be able to use this information and track improvement among users.
The Able Like Mabel resources have been quickly embedded and owned within South East Essex due to the wider falls prevention working group, but work is still underway in disseminating packs within other parts of Mid and South Essex ICS, and in the near future, Thurrock too.
Active Essex’s partnership with the Health and Adult Social Care sector has continued, which has seen significant investment into the legacy of the Prevention and Enablement Model. Since its evaluation in 2022, this has now been scaled and replicated as a sustainable initiative named ‘Reconnect’, which will hope to improve the lives of those living with a disability or long-term health condition.
Funded by Essex Public Health and Essex Adult Social Care, the £1.35 million programme is set to be developed further throughout 2024.
Another partnership with the Essex Wellbeing Service, has led to frontline staff and volunteers being supported to feel confident and competent when having conversations about moving more. Over the past 6 months, there has been a significant increase in referrals being made to the Find Your Active Community Connectors to help residents begin their active journey and find the activity that’s right for them.
Read more health related case studies
Following the blueprint of the previous model, read more about the developments of Reconnect.
Hardwiring physical activity in social prescribing
It has been recognised that training, education and building confidence across the whole social prescribing network, can truly start conversations and build interventions to support inactive individuals to find their active.
Active Essex have continued to hardwire physical activity and sport interventions into social prescribing and have had a focus on expanding the opportunities to be active through green and blue social prescribing. Although the social prescribing landscape in Essex is complex, the development of a resource is hoped to create consistency in how to prescribe to physical activity across the county, and a strong relationship with the Essex Green Space working group will help to engage a number of key partners. At this stage a mapping exercise has helped the team to understand current local offers, but this work is set to continue in the coming months.
Physical activity within personalised care
Placing the importance on working with health charities and health services, has helped to embed further physical activity interventions as part of treatments and management of long-term health conditions. The rising concerns around the mental health of residents has also seen Active Essex, in partnership with the East of England Active Partnerships, develop a Mental Health champions programme as part of their relationship with MIND.
Significant developments have been seen among the personalised care focus this year. Essex Wellbeing Service (EWS) have supported referrals into physical activity, which has led to Active Essex exploring physical activity pilots alongside the My Weight Matters scheme, by upskilling volunteers to deliver this. However, work needs to take place to understand how to create long term sustainability for successful schemes such as cancer pathway initiatives, instead of one year funding cycles.
Additionally, GP’s are now signing up to become Physical Activity Clinical Champions, with the national training being relaunched. Dr Vashandara Thoroughgood is the trainer for Essex, and this relationship is helping to closely identify new cohorts to explore.
An initiative which started during Covid-19, saw the establishment of the Essex Health Series, which has been continued this year. Throughout the 4 webinars, they helped upskill the sport and physical activity workforce, particularly on long-term health conditions, and how best to support them. By doing this, the sector can recognise the importance of small changes to ensure physical activity, movement and sport is accessible for all.
Introducing the Wellbeing Hubs
Waltham Abbey Wellbeing Hub
Discover more about the Waltham Abbey wellbeing hub, and its impact on community wellbeing.
Improve employee wellbeing
Building on the Find Your Active: Workplace Edition initiative, Active Essex have been working to champion physical activity, to become an integral part of Essex, Southend and Thurrock organisations and businesses’ employee wellbeing.
As part of their offer to Essex County Council employees, and individuals signed up to the Find Your Active: Workplace Edition, Move and Stretch sessions have been delivered by Essex instructors 4 days a week for workplaces to stay active during the working day. This consists of low intensity, seated exercise and more upbeat 10-minute sessions, in order to appeal to lots of people.
Working closely with the Essex Working Well team, Active Essex wanted to develop training opportunities to employers, as well as free digital resources and connecting the sport and physical activity sector to the county’s employers. So, as regular attendees of the Women’s Support Network at Essex County Council, Active Essex have been able to share more opportunities for colleagues to engage with physical activity. This has included holding an Essex Health Series Webinar, which focused on menopause. This was delivered by Dr Katherine Cole and Sarah Tyler, who spoke on the importance of physical activity during hormonal changes.