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Patient scheme inspires nurses to improve lifestyle

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A pioneering service aimed at improving the lifestyles of hospital patients has inspired nursing staff to do the same.

The Stockport Foundation Trust service involves nurses screening patients about their lifestyle such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and exercise.

Patients are then offered referral to counselling within the trust and the opportunity for referral to an appropriate service in the community after discharge.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation annual conference in Liverpool last week, Stockport public health consultant Gary Cook said: “We see them [patients] at a point in their lives when they are often having a crisis – a pivotal moment when they might actually be receptive to addressing some of their lifestyle issues.”

He said: “We have a matron who is a trainer and a motivator to work with nursing staff on our wards, who then use the opportunities to ask their patients….about their lifestyles.

“We capture that information and patients are offered the opportunity of brief intervention work by seeing a counsellor or someone else.”

Dr Cook said it was still early days for the service, with around 40 or 50 referrals into lifestyle activities, but nursing staff had been very enthusiastic.

He said: “We are evaluating this because we want to be able to demonstrate this works, but the other thing is our nursing staff have become very enthusiastic about contributing. We actually want to tell them how good they’re doing.”  

Dr Cook added: “In fact nursing staff themselves are now asking for help and support for addressing their own lifestyle.”

He said: “The nursing workforce in particular has often had high levels of smoking and high levels of overweight. They have then found it difficult to persuade patients to do something different if they themselves are behaving that way.

“But they are recognising that and are keen to get some support.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • It's about time something gave half the workforce a kick up the arse! I am sick of seeing huge Nurses waddling down for their fifth fag break that shift and downing an entire bottle of wine when they get home! Hardly great advocates for healthy lifestyles.

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  • nurses are members of the public too - we may have the knowledge but i think we lack the support....

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