Advisers from the Solihull Lifestyle Service are offering FREE health checks and advice at Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre all this week.
The team will be on the first floor, at the top of the escalator near Asda, until Sunday 19th Jan. They can offer all sorts of health and wellbeing advice, including blood pressure checks, BMI checks, advice for people who want to cut down on drinking and smoking, healthy eating tips and information about physical activity, including contact information for exercise groups and other activity sessions in the area.
First Floor, Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre (top of the escalator, opposite Solihull Connect)
Monday 13th January
9.00am – 5.00pm
Tuesday 14th January
9.00am – 5.00pm
Wednesday 15th January
9.00am – 5.00pm
Thursday 16th January
9.00am – 5.00pm
Friday 17th January
9.00am – 5.00pm
Saturday 18th January
9.00am – 5.00pm
Sunday 19th January
10.00am – 4.00pm
The Community Wellbeing Advisers will also be registering people for the Solihull Lifestyle Service, which offers ongoing one-to-one support for all your health and wellbeing needs, including help to stop smoking. To register, you must live in Solihull or have a Solihull GP, but the service is completely free and you’ll get a personalised action plan to help you work towards your goals.
Are you an expectant parent, or have you or your partner given birth within the last three months?
We’re looking for recent parents, or parents-to-be, to take part in a focus group about food and nutrition.
This is the second event we’re running as part of the “Birmingham Food Conversation”. The Birmingham Food Conversation is helping to shape a better food environment for citizens in Birmingham, so we’ll be talking about your thoughts on food and the food choices you make, and feeding that back as part of the wider conversation.
Parents can attend with children
Parking is available on site, and travel expenses will be reimbursed
Light refreshments will be provided
Each participant will receive a Love2Shop voucher worth £10, as a thank you
Last week the Patient Health Forum held their Christmas party, with singing, dancing… and a special visit from a certain Mr Claus!
The Gateway team was on hand to help, as ever, booking transport and making endless cups of tea, but for the party we made sure to include some special extras for this month’s event, including a Christmas quiz and some luxury Christmas cakes and treats. Forum favourite Reza entertained everyone with a selection of Christmas songs and dances that everyone could join in with, and even Father Christmas popped in with some presents.
The monthly meetings for the Patient Health Forum (also known as the Long Term Conditions Group) are a much-loved social event for many of the forum members, but we know that the Christmas party is especially important. Some people told us on Thursday that this would be the only social event they’d be going to over the festive season, and a couple of people told us they will be spending Christmas day on their own.
Experiences and expertise
As well as being a social group, the forum is actually an important part of the local NHS’s patient participation strategy. The group, which meets in Stirchley, is funded by NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG, which uses the group to directly capture views and opinions from people with long term health conditions. This feedback is then used to improve local services, as the CCG explains on its website:
“By talking directly to patients with long-term conditions, we are able to ask them to help us with the design, improvement and review of health services, enabling them to draw upon their own experiences and expertise.” –NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG
If you’d like to get involved with the long term conditions group, or you know someone in South Birmingham who might benefit from coming along, call the team on 0121 456 7820 and ask to speak to someone about the Patient Health Forum.
We’ve been running Workplace Wellbeing services for a couple of years now, but right now we’re delivering one of our largest Workplace Wellbeing commissions yet: a series of events for Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust.
Gateway’s Wellbeing Advisers and Trainers have been working in a number of locations around the city, delivering one-to-one advice sessions and group workshops to several different NHS divisions, and have been working with hundreds of people.
Like all our Workplace Wellbeing activities, the work for the Trust is designed to get employees thinking about their own health and actively managing their own wellbeing; in this case activities are covering topics like eating healthily, managing stress and getting a good night’s sleep. We’ve designed the programme in collaboration with the Trust to ensure that each activity is based on the wellbeing needs that staff have identified themselves.
The numbers at a glance
Our Health & Wellbeing event at Moseley Hall is in full swing. Flu vaccinations, health checks courtesy of @Gateway_FS and lots more. Better not share my own blood pressure reading though . . . pic.twitter.com/HJJsrFkett
There are a few more events left in our schedule for the Trust, but we’ve already engaged hundreds of people, up to senior management level, across six venues. For this piece of work so far:
160 people have received a mini health check (blood pressure and BMI taken, followed by personalised advice)
82 people have attended stress management workshops
33 people have attended mindfulness workshops
30 people have attended resilience training
more than 100 people have received advice and taken leaflets from our information stands
We also ran some half-day “taster events” where people could try out short sessions of activities like Tai Chi and guided meditation, and there was good attendance at these, too.
“Thank you to all your team. The day and the afternoon sessions evaluated really well.” — Richard French-Lowe, Senior Consultant (Organisation Development), Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust
Why commission a workplace wellbeing service?
Structured support and simple, practical advice from professional health facilitators can help employees to understand how work and health is intrinsically linked, and to create a happier and healthier workforce. Educating and supporting staff to manage their wellbeing has been shown to:
Reduce absences and sickness levels
Reduce risk before illness occurs
Improve staff retention
Your organisation or business can choose from a range of workforce wellbeing packages, including individual one-to-one support, group sessions and team workshops. We’ll work with you to come up with a bespoke plan that will address your staff’s needs. Topics available for sessions, workshops and activities include:
Physical activity, included seated exercise
Stress management and resilience
Alcohol awareness, including “mocktail” recipes
Blood pressure tests
If you’d like to commission Gateway’s health advisers to come and deliver Workplace Wellbeing events at your place of work, please contact Katherine on 0121 456 7820, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week we were very pleased to find out we’ve won a top prize for supporting our staff in caring roles.
The Carer Friendly Business Awards Birmingham are part of the Working for Carers programme by Forward Carers, an organisation developed to make a real difference to the lives of people in carer roles, and Gateway won first prize in the Working for Carers Award category.
The judges were impressed by the flexibility we offer to staff who also have caring responsibilities, including adapting our HR policies to allow for people who may need extra support.
Caring for carers
We have always prided ourselves on being a caring, supportive employer, and our employees are a diverse mix of people with a range of responsibilities outside work. Work and home are intrinsically linked, so we aim to provide a considerate environment where staff can be open about their needs, including regular meetings with line managers, plenty of frank, honest conversation, and a willingness to look at a range of solutions.
Because of this, our working and employment policies have always been flexible, but since joining the Forward Carers scheme as a Working For Carers accredited employer in January, we have reviewed and improved them even more.
We based the following changes on conversations with the carers we employ:
At point of employment we now directly ask if the person has caring responsibilities. If they have, we discuss and implement a plan which is then regularly reviewed.
Carers told us practical support is often most helpful, so we encourage staff to tell their immediate colleagues they have caring responsibilities. We have found that colleagues are keen to help, supporting them through the common peaks and troughs of caring.
Carers also talked about the importance of maintaining their health and wellbeing, so as well as making sure everyone has the opportunity to take part in our internal workplace wellbeing activities, we also encourage carers to be assessed and take up any offers they might be entitled to.
One of the judges on the Working for Carers Award panel was Councillor Mary Locke. She said: “It was clear from the award entry that Gateway Family Services recognises that carers make up a very important part of the community and they need extra support if they are to continue working, alongside their other responsibilities.
“The team have worked hard to create a working environment which is supporting their staff, also in a carer role outside of the office. The judges were also impressed at how staff are being encouraged to be friendly, open and understanding, which can be hugely beneficial for anyone who is starting to feel isolated or overwhelmed in their role as a carer.
“We thought they were all worthy winners, but Gateway Family Services stood out for all of us.”
The meetings, facilitated by Gateway and funded by the NHS South Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), have gone from being every three months to every month. Gateway supports the group committee to host a range of speakers, health and wellbeing activity sessions, entertainment and social activities.
Members of the group – which is also known as the Patient Health Forum or the Personal Health Forum – are living with, or caring for people who live with, a range of long term health conditions.
The forum provides an opportunity for people to meet others with similar issues, but it also gives them a voice and the chance to influence services by giving their local CCG insights and feedback about the health services they all use.
Last week we spoke to some of the group members to find out a bit more about them, and how they feel they benefit from going to the meetings.
Dennis started coming to the Long Term Conditions Group after what he refers to as a “mental breakdown”. Now, he’s a key member of the group – a committee member with a strong social network.
Four years ago, Dennis’s GP referred him to a Gateway Health Trainer for help with weight management. However, at this point in his life Dennis was also quite mentally unwell. He’d been isolating himself at home, and worrying, to the point where he was having suicidal thoughts.
Dennis’s stress and worry problems came to a head one night and he emailed several people to ask for help. First thing next morning, his Health Trainer Richard visited him at home and arranged crisis support, including an emergency psychiatric appointment and ongoing help from a home treatment team. And later, Richard also introduced Dennis to the South Birmingham Long Term Conditions Group.
Dennis says, “I hadn’t been out for years and years. My flat was my comfort zone. But Richard explained what the group was like and what it was for. He gave me the names of the people who ran it, and I went along.
“When I first started coming, it was difficult to speak to people. I was so nervous, I would just stay quiet. Then the committee gave me a job as a ‘meet and greet’ person. The first time I did that, I remember my hands shaking so much I spilled the tea.
“But over the next couple of years my confidence really built up. Now, I can stand up at the front of the group and make announcements, introduce people and thank the speakers.” He seems surprised at himself. “I even tell jokes!”
Dennis says he likes the group because although people have health issues and can talk about them if they want to, it’s not the focus of the meetings. He says, “We all know everyone has a reason to be here. We’ve all been through something, but you don’t have to talk about it. You can concentrate on the entertainment and the discussion.”
As Dennis is talking, the meeting is finishing and a stream of friends stops by to remind him to call them or meet up later in the week.
He says, “I don’t want to be dramatic but I really believe I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this group. I haven’t had suicidal thoughts in ages. It’s a stepping stone, if you like, from having an illness to having something to look forward to.”
Membership of the Long Term Conditions Group is open to anyone who lives in South Birmingham, or is registered with a South Birmingham GP, and lives with a long term health condition. If you’d like to get involved, give us a call on 0121 456 7820 and ask to speak to someone about the Patient Health Forum.
Having employees who suffer from poor mental and physical health isn’t just bad for them – it can be bad for your business. Low wellbeing levels in the workplace can affect staff turnover, productivity and motivation.
That’s why we’ve put together a range Workplace Wellbeing Workshops, designed specifically for employees to improve their health and wellbeing at work.
Places are now available for a series of Workshops we’ll be running in June at our Edgbaston training rooms.
Choose from Resilience, Stress Management, Mindfulness and Healthy Lifestyles – and take advantage of a soothing 20% discount if you book all four!
Location: Gateway, 75 Harborne Road, Edgbaston
12 places available on each workshop £25 per person per workshop, or £80 per person for the whole day*
Call Jemma on 0121 456 7820 to book.
The four workshops, designed and delivered by Gateway’s health and wellbeing specialists, teach employees a range of basic wellbeing practices. Your staff will learn how to make small, preventative health changes that could have a big impact on working life.
During each bitesize session, we’ll get staff engaged in some fun and inspiring activities designed to promote health and wellbeing in the workplace. Using tried and tested behaviour change techniques, your employees will gain knowledge and skills that should help them to lead a happier and healthier lifestyle.
Read what others have to say
Some comments from previous participants about workplace wellbeing courses from Gateway:
“The tutor was really organised and set the work to a good pace.” — course participant, 2019
“I learnt a lot on the course and I can use this in my workplace.” — course participant, 2019
If you can’t make this date but you’d like to talk about other ways to support your employees’ wellbeing, give us a call. Gateway’s qualified, experienced health facilitators offer structured support around healthy eating, physical activity and exercise, smoking and alcohol intake, and stress management and we can tailor our range of workforce wellbeing packages for your needs.
Whether your staff need individual one-to-one support, group sessions or team workshops, there’s something for every workplace. How about a lunchtime health check, including on-the-spot blood pressure and BMI checks?
Or even a fun health day where staff get to compete in a Smoothie Bike Challenge?
Call now on 0121 456 7820 to find out more.
RSPH Level 2 courses: places still available
Thinking about learning how to support people with their health and wellbeing? Places are still available on our RSPH-accredited courses in Understanding Health Improvement, Encouraging a Healthy Weight and Healthy Eating and Understanding Behaviour Change later this month. For more information, call Jemma on 0121 456 7820 today.
The latest meeting of the Birmingham and Solihull Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) took place on Thursday last week. Members of the public met up with midwives and other maternity professionals to talk about their experiences of the maternity system and discuss some of the latest developments.
MVPs are a way for service users to share their opinions of their local system and give direct feedback. It’s a way to give pregnant women, new parents and families a voice, and to give maternity professionals a “direct line” to the public, so they can test out new ideas and get feedback on recent changes. Gateway has been commissioned to organise and manage the Birmingham and Solihull MVP meetings, and part of this is to ensure they attract a good number and diverse range of participants.
The November meeting was at St Barnabas Church Centre in Erdington, and 13 service users came along, some with children, to talk to us and share their experiences.
Mary Passant, Programme Manager for Bump, talked to us about giving women a ‘Single Point of Access’ with midwives as the first point of contact. Dr Trixie McAree, professor of midwivery and maternal health at Birmingham University helped us to facilitate the event, and also talked to us about the new Personal Maternity Care Budgets (PMCBs).
Sally Giddings, Deputy Head of Midwifery at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, gave us feedback on the 15 Steps For Maternity challenge that we did at the Women’s Hospital in July. After hearing what happened on our walkabout, the hospital have already made a number of little changes, which should help to make people’s first impressions even better.
MVP Co-ordinator Sharon said, “it was a really interesting and useful meeting. Because people were able to bring their children along, it meant that more people were able to attend — but it also made for a much more informal session, which was great. It made conversations a bit easier and encouraged people to speak up more and to ask more questions.”
After the event, service users completed anonymous feedback forms. Here are a few of the comments:
“Relaxed atmosphere to enable discussion. Great topics to discuss.”
“There was somewhere for the children to come along and play. Helps a lot in the case of childcare.”
“Candid discussion. I feel listened to and appreciated views.”
“I liked the open discussion which was accessible to all.”
Join us! MVP in the new year
The next MVP meeting will be in January. We’re very keen to get more people involved to give feedback from the service users’ perspective, so if you or your immediate family have had experience of the maternity system in the last couple of years, we’d love to hear from you. Mums, dads, partners and grandparents are all welcome and you can bring children to the events, too.
Also in the new year, we’ll be holding another “15 Steps For Maternity” Challenge, this time at Heartlands Hospital. Take a walk with us around the wards and give us your immediate impressions to feed back.
If you’d like to join us for the next meeting or the 15 Steps, give Sharon Bartlett a call on 0121 456 7820 or email her on email@example.com.
Did you know that being lonely is actually harmful to physical health?
Studies show that a lack of social relationships is a big health risk1. Researchers have found that it can be as big a mortality risk as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day!
Now, the government has decided that loneliness is a problem worth tackling. In January, Theresa May appointed Tracey Crouch to lead cross-government work on loneliness, to “shine a light on the issue” and “bring an end to the acceptance of loneliness for good”. And in April, this was followed up by the launch of the “Building Connections Fund”, aimed at supporting programmes that “bring people together”.
There’s no doubt that, in this age of austerity, the Minister for Loneliness has a big job on her hands. But we’re very glad that it has become a national talking point.
Widowed older homeowners living alone with long-term health conditions.
Unmarried, middle-agers with long-term health conditions.
Younger renters with little trust and sense of belonging to their area.
Reducing social isolation in Birmingham
At Gateway we support people who fit all three of these profiles, as well as many of the other identifiers mentioned in the report, such as people with financial hardship, and people who don’t feel a connection to their neighbourhood.
Despite a lack of external funding, we are continuing to run the Healthy Futures service, which supports socially isolated people in Birmingham. GPs can refer anyone that needs non-medical help into the service, so that includes people who have issues around housing, alcohol, finances, benefits, and much more. Our Healthy Futures navigators offer a range of one-to-one help, whether that’s a cup of tea and a friendly chat to get through the day, or more complex support that requires a range of specialist help.
And for people with long term health conditions, we help to run a local Patients Health Forum. This group was set up to allow service users to give feedback on local health systems, but over the years it has also grown into quite a social club. So as well as helping with the practicalities, we make sure to really push the social side of things, making sure events are organised regularly and include food, entertainment, and plenty of time for people to chat. Most of the people who go to the Patient Health Forum fit one of the first two profiles mentioned above, and many of the forum members (or, sometimes, their carers) tell us that it provides them with vital social support.
Earlier this month, the Patient Health Forum took place in Stirchley, where we celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the NHS with entertainment from guest singer Reza, who got everyone moving.
At the first International Social Prescribing Research Conference, in June, Key Speaker Dr William Bird explained how loneliness leads to chronic stress which, via its effects on the endocrine and immune systems, enhances risk of long term conditions. He was keen to promote the concept of supporting people to find “greater value” – that is, not just telling them to do standard physical activity, but working with them to find their purpose.
And this is how we work at Gateway, because we can see that it gets results. In the case of Healthy Futures, as we explained in our own poster presentation at the conference: Healthy Futures did not fall into the trap of “doing what’s best” for patients; generally the patients led the support. Gateway believes that asking someone what their priorities are, believing them, and working with them to build self-confidence and resilience creates a programme of support that is more successful and sustainable.
It’s one thing to find people to say hello to, but it’s quite another to feel “plugged in” – to feel part of something; to feel that you’re useful and that your contribution matters. Having things in common is a great starting point. That’s why we’re keen to make sure that all the services we deliver that involve groups of people – for example Solihull Lighten Up, Peer Educators and the Maternity Voices Partnership – work well as social groups, and we encourage people to stay in touch using WhatsApp or Facebook groups, too.
We’ve known for a long time that social isolation has a big impact on health and we’re very glad this is starting to be addressed at a national level. For our part, we will continue to help people to build stronger bonds with others through a range of tailored support.
1Stats taken from the following studies:
House JS, Landis KR, Umberson D (1988) Social relationships and health. Science 241: 540–545
Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB (2010) Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLoS Med 7(7): e1000316
Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Baker M, Harris T, Stephenson D (2015) Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review. Perspect Psychol Sci. 10(2):227-37
Membership of the Patient Health Forum is open to anyone who lives in South Birmingham, or is registered with a South Birmingham GP, and lives with a long term health condition. If you’d like to get involved, give us a call on 0121 456 7820 and ask about the Patient Health Forum.