It’s Gateway’s 11th birthday this week. Eleven years of connecting with hard-to-reach communities, filling the gaps and designing innovative wrap-around services that look after the whole person. Eleven years of changing people’s lives!
So, in this week’s story, we thought we’d mark our “happy birthday” by talking about “happiness”.
With so much going on in the world today, looking after yourself and your mental wellbeing is more difficult, but more important than ever. That’s why staff across all our services – Health Trainers, Pregnancy Outreach Workers Service (POWS), our Pre-Diabetes course and Solihull Lighten Up – work so hard to help people to look after themselves and to feel happier.
So, when we review the support we’re offering to people, we don’t just measure – for example – how much weight a person has lost, or whether they’ve reduced their blood sugar levels. It’s tricky, but we also measure things like “happiness” and “mental wellbeing” in a variety of ways.
Since May, Health Trainers have been using the WEMWBS (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale) at the start and end of each person’s support. So far, results show that “mental wellbeing” improves for around half the people they work with during the time they are with a Health Trainer. Perhaps this is because they are achieving what they set out to do; after finishing support, 85% of Health Trainer clients say they feel they’ve either fully or partially achieved the goals they set out at the start. Setting goals and being supported to achieve them is a great way to start feeling happier.
In POWS, we use a similar tool, called DASS (the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale). Despite the fact that all POW clients have high levels of vulnerability, which can often mean that making changes takes longer, 34% of the women POWS work with see a definite improvement in their emotional state by the time they exit the service.
One of the things every client is asked at every appointment, across all services, is for a “happiness rating”. It’s a simple, unscientific question, and we leave it to the individual to decide what is meant by “happiness”, but we find it very useful because it means we can track how things are going on a session-by-session basis. To illustrate this, have a look at the comments and ratings given by some of our clients†, from the first appointment and their most recent appointment:
POWS client Marika* is in her 30s. Compare her first appointment with the most recent, just a few days ago:
28 Sep 2016:
I have found it helpful as we discussed depression and the kind of help I need. I am feeling really low and suffer from mood disorder and other health issues. I am struggling to bond with baby. I have my scan next week.
8 Feb 2017:
You brought baby clothes for me and I liked the knitted jumpers and hats. I can’t wait to have my baby now.
Health Trainers client Elaine* is in her 40s. Her first appointment with Susan, her Health Trainer, was in December. And look at her now!
8 Dec 2016:
I was going to the group sessions but due to work I couldn’t attend the six weeks. I’m not very keen on going to groups. I have been to slimming world in the past but I didn’t like it, I went to Zumba didn’t enjoy it. I am a bit lazy in making the effort to do things. But I will try to make some changes to what I eat.
8 Feb 2017:
Susan you will be shocked. I’m taking my main meal to work now instead of having it late in the evening and I am actually having vegetables every day with my meals. This has helped me with my digestion as well. And best of all I lost a few pounds in weight. People have been saying I look like I have lost weight.
It’s the same across all our services. For Health Trainers, happiness levels increase by an average of 14%. For people on the Pre-Diabetes course, it’s 9%. Solihull Lighten Up clients’ happiness increases by an average of 12%. And for POWS clients, the average increase is 16%.
Thanks to all of our brilliant staff and volunteers who make this happen, not to mention everyone who’s supported us for the past eleven years. Here’s to many more!
*names have been changed
† we do this via the Impact Assessment App.