Making Every Contact Count (MECC) enables organisations and individuals to develop and be able to use a different approach to working with people to address health and wellbeing. Telling people what to do is not the most effective way to help them to change. Making Every Contact Count is about altering how we interact with people through learning how to recognise opportunities to talk to people about their wellbeing.
By embedding the MECC philosophies and practices within tEC there are clear opportunities to enhance our daily activities with clients and promote good health and well-being amongst staff. There is a shared goal of enhancing the wellbeing of local communities.
As a trusted organisation which supports vulnerable Hampshire clients (who often suffer from long term health condition) we utilise MECC learning on a daily basis particularly during home visits. MECC provides an opportunity to build upon the specialist energy efficiency knowledge by encouraging individuals to reflect on their own health and wellbeing.
All staff have completed Royal Society for Public Health accredited Healthy Conversations Skills (HCS) training and two members of staff are RSPH accredited MECC Trainers.
During a home visit Paula mentioned that she was becoming worried about stomach pain she was suffering with after eating, that had never been a problem in the past. She had not yet bought this up with a health professional, and was reluctant to book a meeting with her GP to discuss this issue. Through a healthy conversation we explored what other options she might have to discuss this with a health professional and it turned out that she goes to her local surgery every couple of weeks for regular tests for an existing condition carried out by the practice nurse. She decided that she would mention her stomach issue to the nurse at her next appointment, as they could help her further and refer her directly to her GP if necessary.
From talking to Tracey it became apparent that she is a heavy smoker. Using healthy conversation skills we explored this further and she admitted she was concerned about her smoking, as she wants to keep herself fit and well for as long as she can to be able to look after her severely disabled daughter. She was already aware that her local GP surgery runs a smoking clinic, but had not yet acted on this. By making that connection between her own health and the wellbeing of a loved one she made plans to attend the local smoking clinic as soon as the GP was back from holiday.
MECC and the use of healthy conversation skills are very relevant to my role; the skills and techniques explored and practiced during the training and afterwards have enabled me to consolidate my communication style whilst improving my approach.
Within my role, I communicate with clients on the telephone and also carry out home visits. Meeting clients in their home environment where they normally feel most comfortable creates a number of spontaneous opportunities for brief interventions in raising or responding to health and wellbeing issues. Recognising that I am not a qualified NHS professional and this is not my area of expertise, I would have previously felt ill-equipped and uncomfortable about responding to a conversation with a client on a health-related matter. Instead, I would have signposted the person back to their GP or involved health care professional. The use of healthy conversation skills enables me to implement an alternative approach to communicating with individuals in a more empathic way, utilising open discovery questions. I have observed that this approach enables clients to open-up and talk about their experiences and that they have very much welcomed this.
Being employed in an advisory role and prior to my healthy conversation skills training, I may have been too eager to share any information that I had available before really understanding if this is what the client wanted or needed. Whilst there is still a place for sharing advice, the timing and appropriateness is important. I have altered my approach to enable me to communicate in a more empowering way by holding back my desire to jump in with information. Initially, I had some reservations about the fact that this approach could be more time consuming, however I have not found this to be the case. The use of healthy conversation skills to help clients to explore their situation, identify solutions and work out plans to make the changes they would like is a useful and supportive approach which enables them to have greater control and ownership of their situation.
The feedback that I have received from clients has been positive and they have placed much emphasis on having felt listened to and appreciated the genuine interest that has been shown in their health. In creating and responding to opportunities for clients to open up about their experiences and share their perspective, I have developed an increased level of satisfaction for the work that I do.