Now We Are Six – Living Well Has Helped Thousands Of People Since Its Launch In 2015

HealthMental Health

If North Yorkshire’s innovative Living Well programme had an advertising slogan it could well duplicate a popular paint brand with ‘it does what it says on the tin’.

Because since the ground-breaking service was launched six years ago, it has helped an astonishing 14,000 residents to live their lives well and – in many cases – deflected them from needing more intensive help from support services.

That has proved a benefit to both those who have been able to enjoy an extended independent lifestyle and the public services that could otherwise have needed to take their care on board.

Living Well was launched in 2015, soon after local authorities took on extended responsibilities for public health, and used an untried system of using locally based co-ordinators – recruited from a diverse range of backgrounds – to work with those needing assistance and help to steer them towards the organisations and services which could help.

The idea proved a resounding success and in the years that followed the scheme itself has evolved and expanded, with increasing numbers of North Yorkshire residents benefitting from the support and expertise it is able to offer.

As its sixth birthday passes this month, the service has become an integral part of North Yorkshire’s offer to the public and in some areas has become embedded with a multi-agency approach, as co-ordinators spend part of their time working from GP surgeries.

When the service was launched, it had a team of around 20 co-ordinators drawn from backgrounds as diverse as housing, health, the armed services and the Ministry, though that has now doubled.

In the first year, around 1,000 people were assisted but as Living Well has become established numbers have grown, with around 4,000 getting help in the 12 months before the pandemic.

Through that period, the service became predominantly digital because of lockdown, but still managed to continue offering support where needed and was able to assist those unfamiliar with online skills to fulfil more of their routine tasks via the internet.

The anniversary – and success of Living Well – are now being celebrated with local events to promote it, as well as an event to bring the team of co-ordinators together with people who have supported the team since the beginning.

Cath Simms, North Yorkshire’s Head of Prevention Services, said: “Living Well was set up to work with people early – to help improve their health, well-being and independence and help them to be as resilient as possible. The aim was to work with them as individuals and focus on what was important to them.

“One of the major problems Living Well was intended to tackle was loneliness and social isolation, so we help connect people to activities and groups in their communities, from small ‘knit and natter’ groups to larger and more formal social organisations. It has been found that long-term loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“We know that people have become at risk of greater isolation due to the pandemic and we will continue helping even more people to connect with their families and social groups, using digital technology.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor Andrew Lee, Executive Member for Public Health, said: “Living Well was a new way of helping people when it was introduced in 2015 and it has fulfilled all the expectations the council had of it.

“From the beginning, the service has grown in size and evolved in some areas, with its value being proved countless times over the years.

“A crucial part of that success is the team of co-ordinators, who bring a wide range of skills and experience to their role, as well as the personal commitment which has helped make Living Well provide such an effective service.”

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