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Conversations driving healthier lives

Our research has equipped health and social professionals to discuss health habits better. That’s supporting people make healthy changes, and society in tackling chronic disease.

Key facts
  • People’s food, physical activity, smoking and drinking habits are driving chronic diseases. This is costing billions and damaging the lives of millions.

  • Southampton-inspired HSC training is building skills for exploring healthy behaviours

  • The nationally accredited approach is being embedded in communities across the UK


Healthy Conversation Skills

Lifestyle choices have profound impacts on health, independence and life expectancy. Yet health and social professionals find discussing change with patients and clients challenging.

We developed Healthy Conversation Skills (HCS) training to address this and use a ‘train-the-trainer’ model to make it easy and cheap to spread.

Building generic skills for exploring health behaviours, it first deployed in local authorities and NHS Trusts. There it equipped staff helping people manage long-terms conditions and stay healthy. Our Southampton BRC supported studies in SureStart Children’s Centres and GP practices showed that the skills are easily understood, work in a range of settings and give value for money (published here).

Mounting nationwide impact

Our BRC has built on this, driving roll-out of HCS training across the UK and overseas. Working with NHS Health Education England, HCS has deployed across NHS regions. As use spreads, it is getting more out of the one million daily contacts between the public and NHS staff. That’s delivering the Government’s key ‘Making Every Contact Count’ agenda (published here).

Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) accreditation has seen HCS embedded in communities. 2,500 staff in Local and Regional Authorities, GP practices and community services have been trained. When COVID-19 hit, HCS supported remote service provision. Moving online, it was accessed by over 2000 health and social care practitioners.

Trials across eight countries have consistently shown that, even in the poorest communities, it improves practitioners’ confidence and ability in supporting patients and clients. It has also shown protective effects on the psychological wellbeing of service users (published here).

Vision for the future

We have shown HCS’s potential as a sustainable, value-for-money way of improving health. Our future work will target specific, underrepresented groups in co-designing HCS training including:

  • People with learning disabilities and those who support them, in collaboration with Surrey County Council.

  • People managing several health conditions and those living with and beyond cancer, in collaboration with the Southampton BRC prehabilitation team

Through this, we aim to realise HCS’s potential to enhance lives and tackle chronic disease.

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