It’s time to ENSURE the social inclusion of vulnerable people – everybody counts!

All societies have their vulnerable people, some of who risk falling through the cracks between health, welfare and social services. To ENSURE that no-one is left behind, a new cross-border project has been awarded more than 2.5 million euros of European funding (European Regional Development Fund) as part of the Interreg VA 2Seas programme. 

Many people, who do not fit pre-established labels within the system, are passed from one service to another without getting the support they need. Others are unable to access support despite meeting the criteria as they find it difficult to navigate health, social care and welfare structures. These are the kinds of vulnerable people the ENSURE project is designed to support.

Social exclusion is defined as a: “process through which individuals or groups are wholly or partially excluded from full participation in the society in which they live” (European Foundation, 1995). Across Europe, health and social care providers have become aware of a growing number of socially excluded vulnerable people whose needs are not recognised or met as things stand.  

ENSURE is a cross-border collaborative project, bringing together nine partners from France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK, and aiming to break the cycle of disadvantage which hinders the social inclusion of vulnerable people.

The project will:

  • Empower individuals to become fully participating members of their communities by developing a model to reduce and prevent vulnerability and the gap between people and public services
  • Bring about systemic change to ensure no-one is left behind, changing the mindsets of those responsible for providing services via newly-developed training programmes

This will lead to the creation of resilient, healthy and self-sustaining communities.

EMPOWERing individuals & communities to manage their own CARE

All too often, older people are not fully involved in decisions concerning their own health and wellbeing, and the right support is not in place to enable them to remain in their homes, supported by their local community.  EMPOWERCARE will address the issues facing communities in caring for the growing ageing population, by bringing together existing, proven solutions, including innovative technologies, from across Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the UK. 

In 2013 the over 65s made up 18.2% of the European population and this figure is set to rise to a staggering 28.7% by 2080. Traditional services are already at capacity and the present system pushes people to the default point of safety: the hospital. With the cost of care for older people increasing it is necessary to integrate these groups more closely with their communities, keeping them healthier and in their own homes safely for longer.

The EMPOWERCARE project has been awarded more than 4 million euros of European Regional Development Funding via the Interreg VA 2Seas programme. 13 partners from the UK, the Netherlands, France and Belgium are working together to develop a holistic approach to respond to current gaps in the care of people aged 65+ and those aged 50+ and living with a chronic condition. 

EMPOWERCARE has 3 areas of activity: Empowerment, Technology Strategies & Workforce Development resources. These will contribute to a person-centred approach to care and technology knowledge transfer whilst reducing isolation and increasing solidarity amongst older people. Community Asset Based Development approaches will get to the heart of what matters most to local communities by harnessing skills and expertise of local people, co-creating innovations that make a real difference to lives, health and wellbeing.

Obesity and unemployment – what’s the link?

We all know that the rise in obesity across Europe is a significant concern. But did you know that high levels of obesity often coincide with high rates of unemployment? A recent Gallup poll shows that the longer a person is unemployed, the higher the rates of obesity, with rates reaching up to 32.7% after a year or more of unemployment. 

14 organisations from across Southern England and Northern France have come together to tackle these two issues holistically via ASPIRE (Adding to Social capital and individual Potential In disadvantaged REgions). This €10 million Interreg VA Channel project has been awarded more than €7 million by the European Regional Development Fund and runs from September 2019 to February 2023. 

The challenge tackled by ASPIRE is reflected in local statistics: whilst the national unemployment rate in France is around 10%, the Hauts-de-France region is the worst affected at nearly 13%. Obesity rates there exceeded 20% in 2016, six percentage points above the French average. Equally, according to a UN report one quarter of British adults are obese, with levels having more than trebled in the last 30 years: 63.1% of people in South East England and 62.7% in South West England are overweight.

It’s clear to see that a worryingly high proportion of people are considered as being obese and overweight in these two areas and the highest levels are recorded in areas of high economic deprivation. An OECD report exploring the relationship between education & obesity states that “obesity tends to be more prevalent in disadvantaged socio-economic groups.” Whilst eating healthily can often seem unachievable on a budget, knowledge of how to cheaply grow and prepare fresh fruit and vegetables can make all the difference.

ASPIRE will give obese/overweight and/or unemployed people the tools they need to make healthier lifestyle choices and improve their employability. Current health and employment services rarely work together to tackle the issues as one problem, despite the evidence that they are linked. The project will encourage a “grow your own, eat your own, sell your own” ethos inspiring a new model, co-created using partner expertise in both fields. 

The model will holistically combine the necessary support to increase employability with access to local healthy food produce and consequent weight loss. The model will be implemented at 7 sites and using innovative technology to enable participants to improve their relationship with food and provide them with the skills and support they need to gain access to the employment market. 

________________________________________________________

What is Interreg France (Channel) England? https://www.channelmanche.com

Interreg FCE is an EU programme set up to foster economic development in the south of the UK and north of France by funding innovative projects which have a sustainable cross-border benefit in the Programme’s eligible regions.

For more information please contact: Sophie McGannan, Project Manager, sophie.mcgannan@nhs.net 

Step By Step, an innovative model for improving men’s health

Sadly, it’s true – men are backwards in coming forwards in relation to their health, compared to women. The fact that men are less likely than women to visit a doctor – perhaps due to the old chestnut that society expects them to be strong – has a real impact on their health, meaning it’s harder to pick up on potential concerns, and help men maintain their wellbeing.

October 10th is World Mental Health Day, an opportunity to highlight this growing trends in poor mental health, and to raise  awareness about initiatives to improve men’s health and wellbeing.

‘Step By Step’ (SBS), a cross-border project co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund’s Interreg 2Seas programme, includes partners from France, Belgium and the Netherlands alongside those in Kent, Hampshire and West Sussex, and is currently testing an innovative model to support men and improve their social inclusion and wellbeing. SBS’s is primarily working with men at risk of social isolation and poor mental health or wellbeing. 

hd SBS builds on the concept of “men’s sheds”, which gives men the opportunity to share knowledge, skills, advice and their personal story through activities they choose to do together. In this “safe space” men gain self confidence and are supported to become more engaged with others, with some of them developing new personal and professional life projects. 

Inside SBS Sheds, men have access to peer-to-peer support to facilitate discussion, including on themes of health and wellbeing, which they may find harder to discuss with a doctor. This is supported by a network of local organisers and ‘Health Champions’ –  men  who can offer their peers advice on health and employment services, and where desired, direct them to the right service providers. 

Thomas Molloy,  from lead partner The Health and Europe Centre, is delighted to confirm that: 26 SBS Sheds are now up and running across all 4 countries, with a further 34 at an advanced stage of development. By 2021, we aim to have around 100 SBS Sheds supporting men across the 2 Seas area.”

“The Health Champions programme is already being delivered by trained Health Champions, and along with the Employment Model, which is well under development, it will reach all SBS Sheds during the coming year.”

Dog ownership linked to longevity in stroke and heart attack survivors

Dog ownership may be associated with longer life and better cardiovascular outcomes, especially for heart attack and stroke survivors who live alone.

These are the findings according to a new study and a separate meta-analysis published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a journal of the American Heart Association.

Glenn N. Levine, MD, chair of the writing group of the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on pet ownership, said: “The findings in these two well-done studies and analyses build upon prior studies and the conclusions of the 2013 AHA Scientific Statement ‘Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk’ that dog ownership is associated with reductions in factors that contribute to cardiac risk and to cardiovascular events.

“Further, these two studies provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality. While these non-randomised studies cannot ‘prove’ that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this.”

Given previous research demonstrating how social isolation and lack of physical activity can negatively impact patients, researchers in both the study and meta-analysis sought to determine how dog ownership affected health outcomes. Prior studies have shown that dog ownership alleviates social isolation, improves physical activity and even lowers blood pressure–leading researchers to believe dog owners could potentially have better cardiovascular outcomes compared to non-owners.

To read this article in full go to: https://www.healtheuropa.eu/dog-ownership-longevity/93916/

What is the European Week of Regions and Cities?

The European Week of Regions and Cities is an annual four-day event (7-10 October 2019) during which cities and regions showcase their capacity to create growth and jobs, implement European Union cohesion policy, and prove the importance of the local and regional level for good European governance.

The event was created in 2003 when the European Committee of the Regions invited Brussels-based local and regional representations to the European Union to open their doors to visitors simultaneously. One year later the European Commission’s DG for Regional Policy also joined the adventure.

Developing from the initial concept, the event has become a European networking platform for experts in regional and local development. Exchange of good practice in economic development and social inclusion, cross-border cooperation, public-private partnerships, regional innovation and community-led local development have become some of its many topics.

To read more about this, go to: https://europa.eu/regions-and-cities/_en

CASCADE: Harmonia Village and Harmony House

Exciting things are happening for CASCADE (Community Areas of Sustainable Care And Dementia Excellence in Europe). The Interreg 2Seas co-funded project is providing a truly innovative approach to caring for people with dementia and one of the UK’s first ever dementia villages, Harmonia Village, inspired by the project’s Dutch partners, is being built in Dover by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust – opening in autumn. 

A welcome event, held at Harmonia Village on the 26th September, was an opportunity for visitors to see the fantastic facilities and spend an afternoon full of music provided by the wonderful Priory Fields School choir. 

Harmonia Village

The following week, on the 4th October, Medway Community Healthcare opened its dementia guesthouse Harmony House in Rochester as part of the EU project. The 20-bed guesthouse in Pattens Lane, was officially opened in front of excited visitors and staff. Beds will be used by early onset dementia patients in need of respite care.

Harmony House: the journey so far

SHIFT sexual health survey

Living in Kent, Medway, East Sussex or Essex? Aged 45 or over? Please take part in our #SHIFTsurvey to help our partners develop sexual health services that are better adapted to the needs of over 45s: https://chichpscyh.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cColzBpuu8ilJK5

If you’re living in the Hauts-de-France region in France, please use this link to take the French version of the survey: https://chichpscyh.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3ZQGaBlMrAKdbVz

TICC project update

52 self-managed teams up and running across the three countries: TICC ✓

155 more in active preparation: TICC ✓

Excellent work analysing challenges from the three countries, and regularly discussing solutions across borders: TICC ✓

TICC (Transforming Integrated Care in the Community) was launched in July 2017 and, with this list of achievements, it’s well on its way to achieving its objective: a blueprint for successfully transferring innovations in social and health care from one country to another, directly benefitting staff and service users in the UK.

Dementia: Lifestyle changes that could lower your risk

Nearly everyone can lower their risk of dementia, even if it runs in the family, by living a healthy lifestyle, research suggests. The study of nearly 200,000 people showed the risk fell by up to a third. The team at the University of Exeter said the results were exciting, empowering and showed people were not doomed to get dementia. The findings were revealed at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

What counts as a healthy lifestyle?

The researchers gave people a healthy lifestyle score based on a combination of exercise, diet, alcohol and smoking.

This is an example of someone who scored well:

  • Doesn’t currently smoke
  • Cycles at normal pace for two-and-a-half hours a week
  • Eats a balanced diet that includes more than three portions of fruit and vegetables a day, eats fish twice a week and rarely eats processed meat
  • Drinks up to one pint of beer a day

And an unhealthy one?

  • Currently smokes regularly
  • Does no regular exercise
  • Eats a diet that includes less than three servings of fruit and vegetables a week, and includes two or more servings of processed meat and of red meat a week
  • Drinks at least three pints of beer a day

To read more, go to: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-48963215