Working in collaboration with the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Northwest London and Imperial College London together we have developed an innovative approach to support the health and wellbeing needs of families within their own homes. The scheme involves Community Health and Wellbeing Workers (CHWW) visiting households within defined areas and ensuring they receive tailored and holistic health and wellbeing support where needed.
The model was devised in Brazil in the 1990s and has been hugely successful where it is described as ‘the eyes and ears of the GP in the community’. Community health workers provide services to 70% of the country’s population of 200 million, and have basic training in disease identification and monitoring, immunisation, screening support and health promotion. This has resulted in a 34% decline in cardiovascular disease mortality within areas that have full implemented the model.
Churchill Gardens, a large housing estate in Westminster, London, is the first location to trial the model in the UK. Specially recruited Community Health and Wellbeing Workers get to know families in their patch and assess their health, social and wellbeing needs, promote healthy living, signpost to appropriate services and make referrals to NHS services.
The Community Health and Wellbeing Workers are recruited from the local community where possible, which means they know the area well and the challenges the residents face. This helps them to build trust and rapport.
Now operating in Cornwall, Norfolk, Cheshire and Oxford, CHWW have the huge potential to tackle inequalities, improve outcomes and reduce demand on NHS services by identifying health, social and wellbeing needs early.