Hartlepool Borough Council faced those problems in its area, and decided to use its own employees to promote healthy lifestyles, as over 70% of them live in the borough.
“If we get the message out to them, it’s shared with the community,” explains Gwenda Pout, workforce, planning and development manager in adult and community services.
“Front-line workers are much more in touch with the community.”
Over the past year more than 850 people, including carers, day centre workers, administrators and sports centre and library staff, have attended training sessions in the management of long-term conditions, funded by a£70,000 grant from the Improvement & Development Agency .
There were seven different modules, covering subjects as diverse as diabetes, smoking cessation, fuel poverty and preventing falls for the elderly.
Thousands of business cards giving contact details for sources of more advice were handed out for example by firefighters leaving cards after home safety checks.
Reining in enthusiasm
Such was the success of the scheme, the main stumbling block Ms Pout encountered was reining in enthusiasm.
“We had to control the programme everyone on the steering group was saying ‘we could do this or that’.”
A host of ideas have been held back while Ms Pout applies for IDeA funding to run the programme next year.
She says the scheme has had tangible results.
“People have gone out and got their houses insulated or had new boilers fitted they said they hadn’t realised they could get help to do that.”
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