March 2017 Blog – Making Each and Every Contact Count
Everyday around 130,000 people come through the doors of one of our many pharmacies across Derbyshire.
That means around 130,000 different conversations, interactions and prescriptions. But for those who have completed Making Every Contact Count (MECC) training that also means something else. They will be on the lookout for opportunities to support people to make beneficial changes to their physical and mental health and general wellbeing.
MECC offers a brief, or very brief, conversation on health or wellbeing factors that can help an individual. One of the key skills is knowing how to start that conversation and when it’s appropriate to do so. Not every interaction is suitable and it’s all about timing and choosing the right moment. It’s about facilitating behavioural change and supporting people to make informed choices about their health and lifestyle. It would be great if the advice was accepted straightaway but we all know that the individual has to be ready to make a change, has to want to make a change, and be prepared to give up their ‘vices’ to ensure that change.
The risk factors to look out for are well known and will come as no surprise: smoking, hypertension, alcohol intake, being overweight or being physically inactive.
However, what if your own lifestyle isn’t ‘great’? This can make it difficult to start that conversation, but if you aren’t perfect then at least you can empathise with the person you are talking to. Change isn’t easy and a poor lifestyle is usually very easy to maintain! Being aware of ‘what good looks like’ is the first step and there are plenty of sources of information that will support you in this.
As a start why not take a look at the ONE YOU Public Health England website. There’s a 10-minute quiz you can do that’s designed to point you in the right direction. It’s not a medical assessment, but the insight into your own lifestyle could be life changing. It looks at smoking, drinking, eating, moving, sleep and stress. Hopefully, you won’t have problems in all of these areas and you will be encouraged to do something differently, which is the very essence of MECC.
Last month I wrote about Healthy Living Pharmacies (HLPs) and how they have an ethos focused on promoting healthier lifestyles. An integral part of becoming a Health Champion, or undertaking the associated HLP leadership training, is completing basic MECC training. In fact this needs to be completed before the training, where the initial learning will be reinforced.
Many organisations, such as NHS England and local councils, are committed to embedding MECC into the millions of day-to-day interactions that take place. Potentially, by working together at scale, there is massive support for population behavioural change, and the aim is for individuals and communities to significantly reduce their risk of disease. Many long-term diseases are closely linked to known behavioural risk factors where even small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to life expectancy and morbidity.
So, let’s join together and make every contact count for ourselves and the thousands of patients who might just leave through the same doors with a desire for change.