4 January 2019 | Professor Jamie Waterall, Associate Deputy Chief Nurse at Public Health England
Firstly, let me wish you all a very happy New Year. The New Year brings the opportunity for reflection and for many of us time to consider what we would like to do differently in the year ahead. Many people often consider making lifestyle changes in the New Year, but what if we were to also consider ways in which we can also support the public to live longer and healthier lives?
There are many factors that influence our health and wellbeing, ranging from what we eat and drink, whether we smoke, keep active and what kind of work we’re employed in, to where we live and how we grow up.
We also know that huge health inequalities remain and unfortunately, people living in our most deprived parts of the country often have a lower life expectancy and fewer years of living in good health. This is an unacceptable truth, which as health professionals we have an ethical and moral duty to address.
As nurses will be well aware, these trends – growing life expectancy combined with higher risk of chronic conditions – mean increasing demands on health and social care services. It’s now widely accepted that preventing people becoming ill in the first place – protecting or improving their health before they need treatment and care – has a massive part to play in managing these demands.
Imagine the impact if tens of thousands more front-line health professionals built more prevention activity into their practice. It would reduce the human cost of ill health and reduce pressure on our health and social services at the same time.
An effective approach to prevention relies on having the skills and confidence to help the public to live longer, but more importantly, in good health. As the most trusted members of our community, nurses are privileged to have millions of contacts with members of the public every day, shaping and delivering services at the front line.
At Public Health England, one of the ways that we are helping all healthcare professionals embed more consistent approaches to prevention is through the All Our Health (AoH) framework. This framework comprises of educational materials, tools and resources and provides topic-specific information to help professionals make an even greater impact in preventing illness, protecting health and promoting wellbeing.
The type of topics covered range from lifestyle risk factors like physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol to antibiotic resistance and musculoskeletal conditions. It also provides tips on having brief conversations, health coaching and motivational interviewing.
The All Our Health resource is constantly evolving by taking on feedback from healthcare professionals, leaders and educators. In 2019 we will be bringing the information to life and creating a more interactive and dynamic way for healthcare professionals to engage with the framework.
In the meantime, visiting the All Our Health resources on gov.uk is a simple way to help you carry out the prevention and population health elements of your role. Please do share the All Our Health resources with your colleagues too.
For those interested in using social media to increase our knowledge of what works in prevention, why not sign-up to take part on our All Our Health We Learn online course. You can find out more here.
To stay updated on the latest news about All Our Health, follow @PHE_UK on Twitter.
Let’s make 2019 the year that we truly get serious about prevention as we know it makes sense for ourselves and the public we care for. Wishing you all the very best for 2019!
Professor Jamie Waterall, Associate Deputy Chief Nurse at Public Health England