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Making every contact count

Making every contact count is an approach to healthcare that encourages all those who have contact with the public to talk about their health and wellbeing

Making every contact count

Making Every Contact Count (MECC) encourages health and social care staff to use the opportunities arising during their routine interactions with patients to have brief conversations on how they might make positive improvements to their health or wellbeing.

All NHS organisations have a role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of our population and developing the workforce to be able to do this. Evidence suggests that adoption of the MECC approaches across health and care could potentially have a significant impact on the health of our population. We are been working with Public Health England (PHE) and other system leaders to support people and their families to live healthier lifestyles.

Our work in this area includes working on a number of programmes aimed at improving the public health capability of all professional healthcare staff, such as working jointly with PHE to develop a suite of resources to support the implementation of MECC. These practical resources will support people and organisations when considering or reviewing MECC activity and will aid local implementation. The tools include an implementation guide, and a training quality marker checklist. They are for use by organisations that are:

  • considering or reviewing MECC activity
  • developing or commissioning new MECC training
  • undertaking a review of existing MECC training resources
  • developing and providing MECC training resources

Working with the national MECC advisory group, we also supported the inclusion of a requirement for staff to use every contact they have with patients to help them maintain and improve their health and wellbeing within NHS England’s NHS Standard Contract for healthcare providers.

Our newly updated Making Every Contact Count website provides all those with an interest or role in population health and prevention with a library of national and local resources that can be used to support the development, implementation and evaluation of MECC programmes across local communities.

The resources available include sample frameworks, case studies, signposting to useful e-learning materials and healthy lifestyle resources, amongst others. You can also find details of how to join a MECC Community of Practice and local and national contacts for this area of work. These resources have been gathered by Health Education England with the support of the National MECC Advisory Group and Public Health England. We encourage all those who engage with the public to access and use these resources, to help further spread the MECC approach across the country.

As acknowledged in the national consensus statement for Making Every Contact Count, mental wellbeing underpins our capability to make and sustain health behaviour change; the better our mental health is, the better choices we make in terms of healthy lifestyles, and the better we can sustain these changes. Preventing mental health problems will benefit physical health outcomes - mental health problems are common, with 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year.

We have been working with Public Health England, to produce an action plan setting out how we can make validated courses on mental health promotion and prevention available to public health staff, including those working in primary care, by 2020/21. This action plan builds on Public Health England’s Public mental health leadership and workforce development framework, the independent Mental Health Task Force Report, The Mental Health Five Year Forward View, and our Mental Health Workforce Plan for England.

The action plan includes a number of recommended actions to put this vision into action, including:

developing the public health curricula available, encouraging people to take public mental health courses and ensuring the ones that are available align
commissioning, accrediting and evaluating public mental health programmes.

We are already working to implement parts of the action plan, for example:

we have published a list of currently available resources
we have been rolling out the Connect 5 public mental health train the trainer programme across England. By August 2017, 140 trainers were in place and
we have been developing curricula and frameworks to support learning in this area.

We will continue to work with some key system stakeholders, including Public Health England, the Faculty of Public Health and the Royal Society of Public Health to take forward our action plan. We have endorsed Public Health England's Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health, and, using the findings, will work with them to support implementation and improve the mental health promotion and prevention training of the public health workforce.

Working with Public Health England, we have collated examples of training programmes available in mental health promotion and prevention, sharing examples of emerging practice in building knowledge and skills of the workforce across England. Aimed at commissioners, managers and practitioners the document is designed to help them decide the right course for them and their workforce, based on the competencies required. This will help support implementation of the Public Mental Health Leadership and Workforce Development Framework.

We held a national conference in January 2016 in partnership with PHE aimed at supporting those who commission, develop or deliver training in this area.

The conference enabled delegates to explore and share best practice around the delivery of MECC and behaviour change education and training, discuss the launch of training resources, engage over the development of a professional MECC/behaviour change network and make their pledge to ‘Make Every Contact Count’.

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