Support to help yourself

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FRONTLINE NHS staff in South Yorkshire have undergone an innovative training programme designed to motivate and inspire residents to lead healthier lifestyles.

Workers from NHS Barnsley and Barnsley Council have been taught a technique called motivational interviewing, which is being used to address health issues linked to heart disease such as smoking, over-eating and drinking too much alcohol.

The interviews explore a person’s reasons to change their behaviour and encourage them to explain their problems and find solutions for themselves. Support is provided when required, but staff are taught not to automatically provide all the answers.

Hilary Mosley, a senior public health nurse from NHS Barnsley, said: “In the past we’ve been very good at telling people how they can avoid heart disease but this hasn’t always been successful in changing behaviours.

“Evidence shows us that when you explore problems with patients and let them find their own solutions, results improve – both in terms of health outcomes and money saved through avoiding the need for treatment. Staff in frontline roles have the perfect opportunity to help, but often don’t feel equipped to give support. The training has addressed these issues and we’re confident it will help us support more people to live longer and happier lives.”

Sheffield Hallam University was selected to work with the staff to develop their skills in delivering the approach.