Health as a Social Movement explored how the health service can move beyond a purely biomedical understanding of health, with prevention at its core.
The way we deliver healthcare has become highly adept at remedying acute illnesses and injuries but has been less successful at preventing disease, ensuring high quality of life for people with chronic conditions, or sustaining the World Health Organisation's definition of health as “a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing”.
Working initially with six new care model vanguards across England, NHS England with three national partners (The RSA, the New Economics Foundation and Nesta) tested and spread effective ways to contributing to the momentum for change in the health system in England.
- Wellbeing Erewash aims to shift investment and energy ‘upstream’ to encourage thriving communities, where people feel confident and supported to choose healthier lifestyles, stay well, know how to get help and Person Centred support when needed. Approaches include supporting time banking, building young people’s resilience and asset-based community development work.
- The Royal Free Foundation Trust is an Acute Care Collaboration vanguard. As part of this, this project brings together Hillingdon, The Royal Brompton & Harefield, Moorfields and Imperial hospitals to work with the Healthy London Partnership on supporting staff health and wellbeing. This work focuses on the priorities of lower-paid staff, who have traditionally been less involved with health and wellbeing programmes.
- Stockport Together Multi-Speciality Community Provider has partnered with neighbouring areas Oldham and Tameside to focus its health as a social movement work around themes of loneliness, food and arts. Working closely with community led and third sector organisations, the programme builds on local work developed with Nesta to deliver people powered health approaches."
- Great Manchester Cancer Vanguard wants to harness the energy of communities and the third sector to improve cancer prevention, recruiting 20,000 cancer champions and expert patients to promote healthy choices and early detection. They will explore the potential of digital technologies to support self-care, create and connect social networks for people affected by cancer.
- Airedale and Partners ‘Enhanced Health in Care Homes’ aim to improve care and make connections between care homes and the wider community through technology and rolling out telemedicine across 248 care homes. With the Alzheimer’s Society, they will connect residents to local communities, support them to be involved in decisions about their health and empower dementia friends to develop relationships connecting care homes and communities.
- Better Care Together integrated primary and acute care system vanguard in Morecambe Bay will build on existing support where local residents have formed action groups to improve GP recruitment, created health promotion magazines; promoted pharmacy schemes; led health surveys and taught children to use the NHS.
What have we found?
Locally-generated programmes and initiatives for health and wellbeing have been proliferating over many years and across the country. Most - though not all - will contribute to the change we are seeking. What these have in common is that they:
- Focus on prevention of illness and promotion health and wellbeing, understand health holistically and address the underlying determinants.
- Aim to give people more control over their own health and well-being
- Draw people together to take collective action
- Are galvanised and supported by the NHS and/or local authorities and CVS organisations
- Follow the principles of co-production
- Benefit from and contribute to changed culture and practice within state and civil society organisations, so that can provide effective and continuing support.
Download the Health as a Social Movement Report