Many long-terms diseases in our population are closely linked to known behavioural risk factors. Around 40% of the UK’s disability adjusted life years lost are attributable to tobacco, hypertension, alcohol, being overweight or being physically inactive.
Making every contact count (MECC) is an approach to behaviour change that utilises the millions of day-to-day interactions between organisations and people. It encourages changes in behaviour that have a positive effect on the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and populations.
The fundamental idea underpinning this approach is simple. It recognises that staff across health, local authority and voluntary sectors have thousands of contacts every day with individuals and are ideally placed to promote health and healthy lifestyles.
The key policy driving the adoption of this approach in London includes:
- NHS Five Year Forward View: Focus on prevention is essential for better health and a sustainable NHS.
- Health Education England Mandate: ‘Preventing illness with staff using every contact they have as an opportunity to help people stay in good health.’
- Local Government Association: Vehicle for not only health improvement but supporting wider determinants of health
- PHE Priority: From Evidence into action: opportunities to protect and improve the nation’s health
- NHS England: Making Every Contact Count is in NHS Standard Contract.
“8.6 The Provider must develop and maintain an organisational plan to ensure that Staff use every contact that they have with Service Users and the public as an opportunity to maintain or improve health and wellbeing, in accordance with the principles and using the tools comprised in Making Every Contact Count Guidance.”
- London Health Inequalities Strategy: Supports London’s ambition to encourage healthy habits; specifically, efforts targeting stopping overconsumption of alcohol and young people taking-up smoking.
We are looking to build on the evidence associated with this approach, including enablers related to culture, environment and infrastructure. This will be gathered as part of our work with communities of practice.
A growing body of evidence on this topic (including MECC skills and training and enablers) is already developing.
The evidence gathered will inform our London framework for ‘Health Promoting Places and Making Every Contact Count’. Its draft will be consulted on during Autumn 2017 and a final publication available December 2017.