One hundred and seven Richmond residents have already started to put their health in their own hands, with a project being undertaken in partnership between the NHS in South West London ICB, Richmond Charity, Ruils and local GPs in Hampton, Whitton and Heathfield.
The Health in your Hands project aims to engage local people with health services, identifying those at risk of, or already diagnosed with, conditions including diabetes, asthma, cancer, depression and high blood pressure. Some residents aren’t aware they have these conditions or have historically been unwilling to reach out to their local health services, even when experiencing symptoms.
The project forms part of Richmond’s Core20 work, a national NHS initiative that sees efforts prioritised to support the most disadvantaged communities and tackle inequalities. Jess McGreal, Wellbeing Coordinator, meets members of the community in a variety of ways, from visiting local community centres, organising health fairs and meeting people in public spaces not linked with GP surgeries.
The Health in Your Hands project allows people who do not make contact with primary care to access healthcare advice close to their home, which is much needed.”Richmond GP, Dr Adhikari
Richmond GP, Dr Adhikari, said: “The Health in Your Hands project allows people who do not make contact with primary care to access healthcare advice close to their home, which is much needed.
“The most recent event had arrangements for checking blood pressure and weight to help identify people who may be at risk of heart attacks and strokes at an early stage. The Ruils team was also on hand to signpost people to services that could help improve the visitor’s health and wellbeing.”
If someone is interested in being part of the project, they are offered a basic health check and a one-to-one meeting where they are given practical advice to help them manage any LTCs they currently have, or to manage the risk of developing one in the future. They are also encouraged to go back to their GP, as well as take up any additional health screenings available to them.
In January, for London’s Great Mental Health Day, Jess organised a community health fair at Whitton Community Centre that attracted over 50 local people, 15 of which received a free basic health check.
Jess said: “This project is all about meeting people where they are at currently, so making one or two small changes, rather than trying to push people before they are ready.
“We know that taking care of your health involves more than just medicine and this project looks at the whole picture of an individual’s physical and mental health as well as their general well-being.”
Richmond resident, Carol, added: “Having support from Jess has helped me to think through what’s most important to me and having access to options has helped me to better understand my health condition.
“I would definitely recommend this service to my family and friends.”
As the project develops further, there are plans to extend this work into other areas of the borough with recruitment underway for a second community health worker.