Health Exchange have run Health Trainer Services in Birmingham for nearly a decade. During this time we have supported over 27,000 individuals across the city to begin their journey to better healthy by providing motivational behaviour interventions and supporting lifestyle change. 85% of our clients live in the most deprived areas of the city, where an individual’s life expectancy is on average 7-9 years less than those living in more affluent areas. We also work with vulnerable individuals such as young people, people who are homeless, ex-offenders, people with mental health issues, domestic violence victims and people with a history of substance misuse.
Our Health Trainers are members of the communities they serve with a vast knowledge and network of community organisations that can facilitate support. They have used these networks to help previous clients to access psychological counselling, enter employment, find housing, quit smoking and overcome addiction.
Our holistic approach focuses on prevention and supporting clients to take control of their health and wellbeing whilst reducing their risk of preventable diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Our diverse workforce means that we are able to provide culturally-sensitive interventions in a variety of languages, enabling us to reach out to the entire Birmingham population
The service has a real impact on the people who use it, with 96% of them reporting that the intervention helped them to make positive lifestyle changes. Furthermore, 92% of vulnerable clients achieved their goal after accessing the service.
Case Study – Samina
“After attending the Health Trainer sessions, my life has improved socially, emotionally, physically and mentally. No other health professional was able to help me achieve this – not even my GP who I have been seeing for 8 years.”
Samina moved to the UK eight years ago and now lives in Birmingham with her husband and two children. The rest of her family live in her home nation of Pakistan and she is unemployed. Before accessing the Health Trainer service, she often spent her days at home alone, watching television and comfort eating, as she felt very lonely. She lacked confidence as she was unable to speak or read English. Urdu was her native language. Her BMI was over 30, meaning she was classed as obese. Her weight, inactivity and poor diet had also meant that she had been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. She was referred to the Health Trainer service by her GP.
At the point of contact with the Health Trainer service, Samina was only able to cook the traditional curries of Pakistan which were very high in fat. She was also not familiar with what a healthy, balanced diet should look like. She often judged processed foods to be healthier than homemade curries.
Samina was allocated a Health Trainer who explained to her about the hidden fats and sugars in processed food. Samina had been trying to lose weight since the birth of her second child and once she realised that she had been making unhealthy choices, she desperately wanted help. The Health Trainer researched healthy recipes in Urdu which she printed for Samina and gave to her to try at home. The Health Trainer also gave her some advice about how to make healthy adaptations to her cooking and increase her physical activity. Following this, Samina managed to lose 7lb in two weeks. This gave her a huge sense of achievement and a huge confidence boost.
The success she had when making healthy improvements her lifestyle made Samina want to achieve even more and continue to make changes. Following the intervention, she has managed to make sustained changes to her life. She regularly attends the gym, swims and leads group walks in her local area. Through this, she has made new friends and she shares her healthy recipes and healthy living tips with them.
Samina described the Health Trainer service as the best lifestyle improvement service as the intervention was successful in boosting her motivation. She said: “This is a dedicated service that helps you to achieve your goals. After attending the Health Trainer sessions, my life has improved socially, emotionally, physically and mentally. No other health professional was able to help me achieve this – not even my GP who I have been seeing for 8 years.”
Care Navigator (Wellbeing) Service
Unfortunately, due to funding constraints, Birmingham City Council Public Health are reluctantly decommissioning a number of services, including the Health Trainer service. Whilst we are continuing to support our existing clients, we have also been looking to the future to ensure that we can continue to make a difference to the lives of Birmingham residents for many more years. Therefore, we are delighted to introduce our new Care Navigator service.
Our new Care Navigator support team can provide the traditional Health Trainer-style services including; Body Mass Index calculations, Blood Pressure monitoring, Body Volume Indicator scanning, height and weight and additionally HbA1C and pin prick testing. Alongside this, we will also provide navigation to and referral into other local services to ensure that patients are given holistic care and have long-term sustainable outcomes in the communities in which they live. The service has been designed to address the wider determinants of health; the Care Navigation process.
From the 1st of August there will be an option for healthcare organisations to book Care Navigator time directly from Health Exchange CIC LTD. We will endeavour to ensure that the language, cultural and religious needs of patients are met by those providing the service.
To discuss the service further, please contact our Assistant Director, Jennifer Jones-Rigby on firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Head Office on 0121 663 0007.