New training programme links physical activity with Making Every Contact Count

Health Education England (HEE) has commissioned the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in partnership with Active Cheshire and Merseyside Sports Partnership (MSP) to develop and pilot a health promotion training programme to support conversations about physical activity using a Making Every Contact Count (MECC) approach within the health and social care sector.

Physical inactivity has, and is continuing to increase, in the UK with only 66 per cent of men and 58 per cent of women being active enough. Physical inactivity increases the likelihood of many physical and mental health risks including diabetes type 2, different cancers, heart diseases, dementia, obesity, muscle loss, depression, and anxiety disorders. Hence, physical inactivity is estimated to be associated with 17 per cent of deaths in the UK.

There are also severe differences between demographical groups in meeting physical activity recommendations. Factors such as socio-economic status, age, gender, sexual orientation, residential area and race influence the likelihood of being physical inactive and the Northwest England has the least active population in the country.

Given the statistics stated above it is expected that all core and wider public health workforce understands the principles of physical activity promotion, especially as 25 per cent of people would be more active if advised by a healthcare professional. This has presented a unique opportunity to implement the Making Every Contact Count (MECC) for Physical Activity programme, supporting the public health workforce to increase their knowledge and confidence to support a physical inactive community and signpost people to the right services.

Making Every Contact Count (MECC) is an approach to behaviour change that utilises the millions of day-to-day interactions that organisations and individuals have with other people to support them in making positive changes to their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

The MECC approach has already had significant impact in the area of physical health and behaviour change (including; smoking, alcohol, diet and physical activity weight management) and RSPH has a successful track record of Mental Health promoting programmes based on the MECC approach.

The development of the programme supports national level priorities within the NHS Long Term Plan  and the NHSE and NHS Improvement approaches to tackling health inequalities through the CORE20PLUS5, as well as fitting with the strategic ambitions of health partners in Cheshire and Merseyside, following the recent launch of the Integrated Care System (ICS) physical activity strategy for health and social care, All Together Active, published in October 2022 which aims to reduce inequalities resulting from physical inactivity with an alliance of organisations from all sectors across the region.

Expected outcomes of the programme

That participants of the training increase their knowledge and skills to be able to:

  1. Identify the benefits of physical activity, and how to apply the Chief Medical Officer national and NICE recommended guidelines
  2. Define the MECC approach and explore how this can be applied to promote physical activity in healthcare services.
  3. Be aware of local support services and how to effectively signpost learners to the appropriate support
  4. Be confident to implement appropriate signposting and referral pathways

For further information please contact Roberta Pomponio for Cheshire and Warrington or Danny Woodworth for Merseyside.