Communities key to tackling local health issues

This month saw the launch of health and wellbeing action groups to help tackle local health issues in Workington, Cockermouth and Maryport.

Events were held in each area to launch the groups and saw around 50 people at each, including residents, local organisations, community groups and health and care practitioners to discuss the key health challenges in each area.

The events were led by Maryport and Cockermouth Integrated Care Community (ICC) and Workington ICC which bring together GPs, community services, adult social care and other health and care partners with the community to support the health and wellbeing of local people.

ICCs were introduced in north Cumbria in July 2018 and have already helped to reduce the time people spend in hospital by increasing care in the community. The next phase of ICCs will see a greater focus on preventing ill health and supporting people to stay well.

Both Maryport and Cockermouth ICC and Workington ICC have started this next phase by talking to local people about the areas they think should be prioritised. They shared local health data with attendees and used this to start discussions about people’s own concerns, and whether these aligned to the data. 

Conversations from the events identified healthy weight and smoking cessation as two of the key concerns as well as associated health problems such as diabetes and stroke. In addition mental wellbeing, alcohol misuse, falls prevention and social isolation were also highlighted.

The group in Workington also discussed some of the wider factors that affect people’s health and wellbeing such as housing and employment. ICCs will increasingly use a social prescribing approach, recognising that people’s health is affected by a range of social, economic and environmental factors and connecting people with third sector organisations and community resources to address this.

Valerie Ayre, Public Health Locality Manager, commented:

“It was great to have so many people at each event, including representatives from local groups we haven’t previously worked with. It’s important that local people are involved in these conversations at an early stage so we can focus on the real issues that matter to them. We had lots of interesting conversations and will use these to agree what to prioritise and next steps.”

Conversations from the events will be used to identify priorities for each area and action plans will be developed to start to look at how the issues raised can be addressed, again working with local communities to do so. A similar event will be held by Keswick & Solway ICC in April.