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Many strokes can be prevented and this group came together to help reduce the number of people who end up in hospital after a stroke.
The group started life in 2018 and now held a number of community-led blood pressure testing events in Copeland. During covid the group has been sharing advice to help people reduce their risk of stroke in the community in a covid-safe way.
With support from NHS England’s Building Health Partnerships programme our community, NHS and public health team began working with the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) to develop a programme of public testing sessions.
We are made up of people from Third Sector organisations, the West Cumbrian Voices for Healthcare, the Stroke Association, Rotary, Healthwatch and Public Health and the NHS.
We are involved in a number of projects and Special health testing events.
The group offer blood pressure and pulse testing to look for atrial fibrillation.
What we do?
When we were able to meet people face to face we held three events:
• Whitehaven Trader’s Market in June 2019
• Distington Vintage Rally in July 2019
• Dixon’s Department Store in Whitehaven in January 2020
Working with our community pharmacy colleagues we offered blood pressure checks. Volunteers from Rotary and Healthwatch Cumbria and our community team talked to people, shared information on how to increase activity and other ways to improve health. Chatting to people and taking the chance to have a blood pressure check is a good way to help people become more aware of their own risk and how they can reduce it.
High blood pressure is known to significantly increase your chance of having a stroke, but can be treated relatively easily.
We found a handful of people who needed to have their blood pressure checked again and one person who needed to go to A+E for an immediate check. Most people were reassured their blood pressure was under control and chatted about the benefit of losing weight, getting more active, stopping smoking. These events are opportunistic and offer the chance to nudge people!
We also held an event at Carlisle Auction mart in April 2019 which helped us shape our sessions!
When we have had to reduce direct contact we carried on nudging and helping:
During lockdown and the gradual re-opening we have continued to meet and supported a number of activities:
• Created a facebook page here
• Recorded some advice films with Stroke Consultant Dr Paul Davies at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust –
• Created an advice leaflet (building on our hour a day’s exercise!)
• Created a banner which has been in supermarkets during lockdown nudging people to take care of their health – we also shared information from the Stroke Association too.
You can find out more about IVAR here.
Read a blog from Kevin Walsh - District Governor for Rotary Clubs throughout Cumbria and Lancashire 2013-14 on 'Community Health Melas - Some thoughts for the future.'BLOG - 'Community Health Melas'
For more information about risk factors and stroke: www.stroke.org.uk
Past event examples
Press Release Here from June 19th 2019 – Successful day for community health check team
Press Release Here from July 1st 2019 – Free Health Checks offered by community stroke prevention group at Distington Vintage Rally.
North Cumbria Health and Care System is being supported by NHS England to take part in the Building Health Partnerships (BHP) programme, working with facilitators from the Institute of Voluntary Action Research (IVAR).
In North Cumbria we are looking at the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart disease, and the detection of conditions like atrial fibrillation which could lead to stroke.
Members of the Third Sector, the West Cumbrian Voices’ for Healthcare, the Stroke Association, Rotary, Healthwatch Cumbria, North West Ambulance Service, Community Pharmacy Cumbria and Public Health are working with NHS colleagues to shape and develop the project.
You can find out more about IVAR and the BHP process here:
The process offers support to design a collaborative approach to health challenges, with some members of the group going on to leadership training with the Kings Fund.