Contact My Patient’ is a tool you to ask LiveWell to do just that! Lydia Turnbull, LiveWell Dorset Network and Relationship Manager has been working with Poole Hospital’s Alcohol Care and Treatment Support Service to embed the tool into working practices. She caught up with department leads Mercedes Dryer and Graeme White to see how they are using it:
Lydia (LT) – “So how do you find 'Contact My Patient'?”
Mercedes – “It's quick and easy to both use and explain to the patient. We use it for both in and outpatients. We get the consent of the patient and do it on their behalf there and then. Normally, they're eager to do it. We have the LiveWell cards to hand out too, but you wonder if anything will happen. With 'Contact My Patient' I know I'm sending them a link to LiveWell's website and phone number - something's likely to happen. With all the digital tools and information on the website, it's helping them get a feel for what support is on offer, particularly when they're not quite ready to talk on the phone yet.
“Sometimes, there's just so much information for the patient to process when they're here on the ward. Having 'Contact My Patient' and the LiveWell Website means they can look in their own time. They can go onto the website, take the lifestyle assessment, try the Habit Hacker, find support in their local community, and see the NHS App library.
“It's good that we can jump on the moment of opportunity by sending them the text and email straight away. It’s those little pushes that point them in the right direction.”
LT – “That's it. And the text and email that get sent to the patient are sent straight away. The link is customised so we can track where the referral has come from and what the patient goes on to achieve. And because we keep in contact with our clients at three, six and twelve months, we're continuing the good work you started in the long term.”
Mercedes – “Yes, I recall speaking to a patient who said they'd recently received that follow-up contact. It's about nudging people to consider their risky behaviours. Even here in the alcohol team, we tell patients about the weight, activity and smoking pathways LiveWell provide. And with extended family visiting, we can say "if anyone in your family wants help - get in contact with LiveWell." Perhaps a partner of the patient would benefit from cutting back, we share LiveWell with them too.
“We like that LiveWell's not just focused on alcohol - it's an integrated healthy lifestyle service – an all-rounder. This is helpful. We can say to a patient, particularly those who are less keen, or feel they don't need an alcohol support service; "this service will support you with your general health and wellbeing." That's less intimidating than saying I need to refer you to a specialist service.”
Graeme – “We do sometimes see people drinking 70, 80, 90 units a week, it's clear that they are a dependent drinker. This is a tricky one as they really do need the support of specialist alcohol services. Of course, LiveWell signpost to those services too, which is helpful.”
LT – “Yes, I recall one instance where someone was walking down the street, having trouble finding a specialist service. Yet because they knew of LiveWell, they gave us a ring and my colleague literally talked them through each step and turn to direct them to the front door!
“And I love that I can now give you feedback on how many times you've used ‘Contact My Patient’. I can tell you who's gone onto register; what pathways they've activated, and what impact it's having. All anonymously, but it's the feedback you need to know it's making a difference. I can tell that you use ‘Contact My Patient’ 15 times in a typical month. There are of course people who'll pick up the phone to register, rather than using the link in the text or email, so you're likely referring more than these numbers reflect!
“We know it takes more than one prompt to get someone to register. So, whether it's a poster seen around the hospital, a Facebook post or a conversation with yourselves, it's all prompting and nudging them to come and register. Your conversation is so important.
“Much of what our Engagement work is focused on is encouraging a culture change amongst healthcare professionals, encouraging and training Dorset's 30,000 healthcare professionals to be bold and ask those challenging yet crucial questions about unhealthy behaviours. When you start the conversation, we'll continue it in the long term!”
Graeme – “It's so good to know that LiveWell is there to continue the support when we discharge patients. It's comforting to know that something is going to happen, that they won't walk out the door and become forgotten. Many of my patients aren't going to reach out to a specialist alcohol support service, but I can encourage them to join LiveWell - that's great! It's a teachable moment and we want to make the most of it. We have to make the most of it.”
Contact My Patient has signposted more than a thousand patients to register with LiveWell in its five months of operation. In October 2019, 40 per cent of patients GPs referred to LiveWell through this tool registered – it works! Your brief intervention is the lynchpin to start your patient’s journey. When you start the conversation, we’ll continue it in the long-term. Please do keep using this resource on our website and consider embedding it on your website or system.