The NHS and county council in Lincolnshire have worked with partners to use social media and the local press to get the message out there about the importance of self care. It has helped reach thousands of local people. This forms part of our resource on self care.
The success of running any public campaign rests on reaching lots of people. In the past, different agencies in Lincolnshire had individually promoted Self Care Week held in the autumn, but with little impact.
So in 2017 the four CCG, three NHS trusts, county council, district councils, County Sports Partnership and voluntary sector came together to set up a task and finish group to look at how to promote self care more effectively.
The group identified social media and the local press as two key priorities. A number of inspirational case studies were identified – mainly focused on people who had got healthy against the odds, such as a woman who had gained weight after fracturing her skull following a fall from a horse, but then took up physical activity because she did not want to become a burden on the NHS which had saved her following the accident. Local NHS experts also penned columns. These were distributed to local papers via press releases.
Each partner also scheduled posts on social media channels, including Twitter and Facebook. These included encouraging people to try Public Health England’s One You quiz, which details what changes they can make. Posts were also sent out promoting the fact local pharmacists have a wealth of knowledge to support people, while there was a big push on getting people active.
All partners promoted Active Lincolnshire’s activity finder website, while agreements were reached with local leisure centres to offer free passes, consultations and classes throughout Self Care Week. Volunteering and activities such as lunch clubs and day centres were also encouraged to combat isolation among older people.
At the activity events, an NHS pocket guide was handed out providing advice about selfcare and which services to access when they need medical support. Scratch cards were also produced to be used as conversation starters about which services should be used in three different scenarios.
The partners had great success in reaching and engaging people. The local newspapers, the Lincolnshire Reporter, Lincolnshire Echo and Boston Standard, covered the case studies and other elements of Self Care Week, which, coupled with the social media engagement, meant the messages reached in excess of 250,000 people. Meanwhile, more than 70,000 copies of the NHS pocket guide were handed out.
Kevin Gibson, Engagement Manager at Lincolnshire West CCG, said: “We really wanted to create a buzz around Self Care Week. We wanted to get people talking about it and involved. By coming together, we were able to achieve something that we had not before. It started a real conversation about self care and that has continued.”
What is more, the benefits were achieved without any dedicated funding other than people’s time. The cost of the campaign materials, such as NHS pocket guides and the scratch cards, came from budgets assigned to other campaigns, such as the winter communications budget. Meanwhile, the leisure centres absorbed the costs of the free classes and passes.
The task and finish group recognised that even with some widespread social media and local newspaper coverage, there may be certain groups that could be resistant to the messages.
The group identified students and parents with young children as two of these and so it organised targeted interventions. To tackle this, officials from the partner agencies attended local campuses and children’s centres during Self Care Week to engage directly with members of the public.
How is the approach being sustained?
Mr Gibson said that direct targeting convinced the agencies to carry on working directly with the public.
“We were really pleased with how it developed so we have tried to build on it by embedding it in what we do. For example, we went to Fresher’s Week this year to promote self care. We were stressing the importance of physical activity, getting involved in clubs and what opportunities there are for physical activity in the county.”
Other projects have also been run, including work with the rough sleepers team to talk to homeless people. And, of course, a coordinated approach to Self Care Week has been running once again this year.
Kevin Gibson Engagement Manager
NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group