Making Every Contact Count

 

Making Every Contact Count (MECC) is about making the most of everyday conversations to help people. MECC is an effective and evidence-based behaviour change technique.

Did you know that in Warwickshire…

  • 1 in 4 people have drinking patterns that could be harmful
  • 1 in 4 adults are physically inactive
  • 1 in 8 adults are smokers
  • An estimated 46,000 people aged 16-74 have a common mental health problem
  • In 2013, 10.9% of households were considered fuel poor
  • According to the 2015-18 Child Poverty Strategy, 14% of all children are living in poverty
  • 11% of the population are unpaid carers
  • 1 in 6 adults have financial worries

MECC Signs and Triggers

There are 4 key areas that MECC frontline practitioners should consider when interacting with the public:

Lifestyle

  • Does the customer smoke or drink heavily?
  • Is the customer overweight? Do they eat unhealthily?
  • Does the customer appear to be stressed or depressed/confused? (this may signify anxiety/depression or dementia)
  • Does the customer ever do physical exercise?

Living Circumstances/Environment

  • Is the customer living in poverty?
  • What is their housing situation? Are they in rent arrears or about to lose their tenancy?
  • Is the customer in debt or experiencing financial worries?
  • Can you see signs of hoarding?
  • Is the customer living in damp, mouldy or cold conditions?
  • Is the customer complaining that noise is bothering them?
  • Can you see trip hazards?

Relationships

  • Is the customer lonely or socially isolated?
  • Has the customer indicated that they are a victim of domestic abuse?
  • Is the customer a carer? Or a lone parent?
  • Is the customer recently bereaved?

Employment

  • Is the customer unemployed?
  • Is the customer a victim of discrimination in the workplace?
  • Did the customer recently retire?
  • Is the customer involved in education or training?
  • Is the customer involved in volunteering?

The key to MECC is considering what you have seen or heard and whether this sign/trigger points to someone struggling. For example:

  • Signposting someone to the Warwickshire Stop Smoking Service if they mention a bad cough caused by smoking.
  • If someone’s house feels cold, raising the issue of cold homes and poor health then signposting to Act on Energy.
  • Advising someone dealing with financial issues and referring them to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

MECC Key Messages

There are key messages for practitioners to know and have access to when working with customers who may need support:

Healthy Eating and Healthy Weight

  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – at least 5 a day.
  • Base meals on starchy foods (bread, rice, potatoes) – these should make up a third of your meal.
  • Fish is a good source of protein and contains many vitamins and minerals. Aim to eat at least 2 portions a week.
  • Reduce your saturated fat and sugar intake – less biscuits, cakes, crisps, and sugary drinks.
  • Try to eat less salt – check food labels.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Try to eat breakfast (and ensure that children and young people have breakfast).

Physical Activity

  • Adults should aim to be active daily. Over a week, activity should add up to around 2½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
  • Children and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity – for at least 60 minutes every day.
  • Adults should also undertake physical activity to improve muscle strength on at least two days a week.
  • Walking is a great way to be more active in day to day life.
  • All children, young people and adults should minimise the amount of time sitting for long periods.

Debt

  • The earlier you deal with/tackle debt issues the better.
  • Budgeting and planning can help reduce debt.
  • Don’t ignore calls or letters from the people you owe money to (your creditors). Contact them to explain why you’re having problems.
  • It’s not just the unemployed who get benefits and tax credits – you may be entitled to receive more support than you realise.

Stop Smoking

  • You are 4 times more likely to quit with an NHS Stop Smoking Service than going it alone.
  • There are a range of products available on prescription to help people quit including:
    • Nicotine Replacement Products (such as patches, gum and others)
    • Champix®
    • Zyban
  • Stopping smoking in pregnancy will protect the baby from harmful effects of smoking.
  • It’s never too late to think about stopping, it will be of benefit whatever your age.
  • Stopping smoking is possible; there are 11 million ex-smokers in the UK.
  • Please visit Quit4Good Warwickshire for further information.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

  • Research suggests that one in four of us will have problems with our mental health and emotional wellbeing at some point.
  • Having someone to talk to who will listen is a good way of protecting mental health.
  • If you feel unable to cope or you think your mental health is deteriorating, it is important to seek help. Speak to your GP for support.
  • Poor physical health is closely connected to poor mental health.
  • Good mental health allows us to reach our potential, cope with stresses, work productively and contribute to our community.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or despair or possibly feeling suicidal, contact The Samaritans. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – the call is free from a landline or mobile: 116 123.

Housing

  • Having a suitable home is important for your health and wellbeing – look after it and it will look after you.
  • Damp houses can contain mould spore, which can cause or worsen existing respiratory diseases.
  • Every year there are approximately 6,000 deaths as the result of a home accident. (RoSPA).
  • Cold houses cause over 9,000 deaths per year each winter in England and Wales.
  • There may be other things to look out for in homes including:
    • Overcrowding
    • Fire hazards
    • Overheating
    • Very old or broken boilers
    • Noise
    • inadequate lighting
    • not connected to gas or electricity
    • hoarding
  • Housing can be improved with:
    • better insulation
    • regular boiler checks and replacements
    • warm home discounts

Drinking Sensibly

Reduce your risks by knowing how much alcohol you are drinking and make sure you don’t drink more than the lower risk guidelines:

  • For men and women this is 14 units of alcohol a week.
  • This is the same as 6 pints of average strength beer a week or 1⅓ bottle of typical wine.
  • Spread your drinking over three or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week.
  • Have at least 2 non-drinking days each week.
  • Pregnant women should not drink any alcohol and alcohol should be avoided when trying to conceive.
  • There are lots of benefits to cutting back on alcohol. These include:
    • reduced risk to your health
    • more energy
    • feeling better in the mornings
    • losing weight

Relationships

  • Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health.
  • 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. 8% will suffer domestic violence in any given year (Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013/14).
  • It is common for people who have caring responsibilities to feel stressed. It is important that the carer looks after their own wellbeing by taking regular breaks, asking for help and taking care of their own health.

Employment and Work

  • Being employed is good for your wellbeing – it helps you feel valued and boosts self-esteem.
  • Being a working parent also improves children’s wellbeing – it helps them aspire to work when they are older.
  • Update your CV.
  • Starting work doesn’t always mean that all benefits will stop. If wages are low ‘in work’ benefits can ensure people are not worse off in work.
  • There are other things related to work and employment that could be causing issues including:
    • Redundancy
    • Retirement
    • discrimination in the workplace
    • stress in the workplace

MECC Training

There is a suite of training and resources available for frontline practitioners. If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions, then MECC training is for you:

  • Do you work with vulnerable people or people living in difficulty?
  • Do you want to help your customers and make a difference?

The training comes in 3 parts:

  • A 45 minute e-learning programme and/or
  • A half day face-to-face training session delivered by Citizen’s Advice Warwickshire
  • A half day train-the-trainer session for staff to become Health & Wellbeing Champions

To access the eLearning programme please visit warwickshire.gov.uk/wilma.
Course code: HSW WB008

To request face to face training please contact: phadmin@warwickshire.gov.uk.

MECC Resources

There are two core resources that have been produced for practitioners when they are working with customers:

Hard copies of these are also available from:
Public Health Warwickshire
Warwickshire County Council
Barrack Street
Warwick
CV34 4RL