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fi t our company ethos, values and portfolio of current services, as well as the expertise of our people – we have great skills in the organisation when it comes to community development and partnership working. “We energise community organisations

to engage and we upskill them. In fact, when we talk about re-investing, this is an important part of what we do: investing in people. As an industry, we’re very good at investing in physical assets, but nowhere near as good at developing people. You have to take people to places they never thought they would go. You have to lead and inspire them. “This is very much our approach –

upskilling the community itself – and as a result, our offering isn’t really about direct service provision. The leisure centres clearly are, but much of our outreach work is about community engagement, identifying partners who are much closer to the community than we are – to the different demographic and ethnic groups we need to reach to address health inequalities – and therefore much better placed to deliver programmes effectively.”

Seamless delivery Mytime’s Health Trainer programme is one example of this community partnership approach. The scheme sees individuals recruited from within the community and trained to motivate people to change their behaviour and lifestyles. This includes supporting community members to stop smoking, lose weight or increase levels of physical activity. Health trainers are trained to assist clients on a one-to-one or group basis, assessing their health and lifestyle risks. “Health trainers essentially do health checks – interviewing people, often in GP surgeries,” explains Price. “They take the load off the GP.”

Mytime is now developing licences for other organisations to operate the MEND nutrition and activity programme in the US, Canada and Australia

“You have to take people to places they never thought they would go – to lead and inspire them”

The initiative has already been rolled

out in areas such as Norfolk and Waveney, Portsmouth and Hampshire, the West Midlands, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire NHS commissioned the service in November 2009, with impressive results: Mytime Health now works with 15 GPs across Cambridgeshire, with over 5,500 referrals to the service to date. There’s an average weight loss of 2.3kg per participant, physical activity has increased by an average of 69 minutes a week, General Health Scores have increased by an average of 14 per cent – and perhaps most signifi cantly, 82 per cent of patients have achieved their primary goal. “I think there’s a great opportunity

Mytime Health Trainers help people improve their diet and lifestyle


for the leisure sector to engage much more in this area,” Price adds. “There’s a degree of convergence between health and leisure, and roughly it’s called wellbeing. I believe there are great opportunities to improve participation in physical activity via health benefi t messages. However, it can be hard work and there’s a cost associated with it, so there’s a question as to whether the fi tness industry in general would see merit in this approach.”

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Mytime Active, however, has very much embraced this opportunity.

“There needs to be an integrated approach and I believe we’re well placed to offer this,” explains Price. “My view is that, at the moment, people get bounced around the NHS: if someone’s had a heart attack or cardiac event, the likelihood is they’ve smoked or continue to smoke, have a poor diet and are overweight, and don’t participate in regular physical activity. They therefore need access to a range of different services to address the root causes of their heart problems – dieticians, nutritionists, smoking cessation schemes, physical activity specialists, CVD nurses – but so often these are delivered in silos, through separate clinics. “If you were to look through the

patient’s eyes, which is the best place to start, all those services should be offered in one venue. That’s what we’re trying to do, and that’s why it’s important to get out into community settings – schools, GP surgeries, village halls, leisure centres – with our programmes. We need to be wherever the people are who need those services. “Our programmes range from smoking

cessation to exercise referral, adult and kids’ weight management to the Health

June 2013 © Cybertrek 2013

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