A day in the life of a Camden Health Checks Advisor - Solutions 4 Health

Camden health checksWe asked one of our Camden Health Check Advisors to shed some insight into the wonderful work they do to support local people in the area. Here is what Lizzie had to say about her role.

Can you give us an idea of what your role entails?

My role as Health Checks Advisor varies from day to day. My main job is to organise and attend Outreach events where I can deliver our services within the community. At the moment I am running events from a couple of the public libraries and universities, and from our Health Bus parked in one of the housing estates in Camden.

At a typical event we carry out NHS Health Checks, offer brief health interventions, provide advice about healthy living and make referrals into free local lifestyle services (e.g. weight management, physical activity schemes, alcohol service). My role has recently expanded to include smoking cessation support within the community. When I am not at Outreach events I am either liaising with community venues to plan future events and clinics, or I am based at one of our Healthy Heart Centres delivering our services from one of our static clinics.

What made you want to become a health checks advisor?

Having studied for an MSc in Health Psychology, I have a strong and invested interest in public health, disease prevention and health behaviour change. During my studies I learnt a great deal about the role of lifestyle and health behaviours (e.g. diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption etc.) in illness development. I wanted to become a health checks advisor so I could educate and motivate the public to improve their lifestyle choices and reduce their chances of developing illnesses such as cardiovascular disease.

What is it like working in the centre of Camden?

I love working in the centre of Camden. It’s such a diverse borough, and every event, location and population is very varied. For example some recent events have ranged from the Hampstead Heath Festival to parents’ evenings at local schools and from central locations in Holborn to more residential areas such as Highgate.

What is the best thing about being a health checks advisor and what do you enjoy most about your role?

The best thing about being a Health Checks Advisor is the amount of public engagement involved in my role. I’m not stuck in an office, but instead I am out in the community engaging with the public. Therefore every day is different, and I feel like I am really making a difference. Another aspect of the job which I love is the gratitude you receive from the public. Clients are always very grateful for their Free NHS Health Check and comment on how great it is what our team do. That’s always nice to hear!

What are some of the challenges you face in your role and how do you encourage people to stay motivated?

One of the biggest challenges is when you are talking to a client who isn’t ready to make any changes to improve their health. I can try my best to inform them about their health and carry out motivational interviewing but sometimes people are not quite in the right place to change their lifestyle. This is quite rare and generally people are quite motivated and sometimes it’s just that conversation with a professional that a client needs in order to start making lifestyle changes. I often provide my contact details so if a client has any queries after a Health Check they can always get in touch. I tend to send a text message or give the client a quick call a week or two after their Health Check to see if they have initiated the services they were referred onto (e.g. weight management) and to see how they are getting on. I think this always provides further motivation because it shows that we care.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a health checks advisor?

Go for it! It is such a rewarding job to have. Because of the challenges of the job it is important to have good organisational skills and to be assertive and adaptable. As it is a public facing role I think the key to getting the most out of the job is to have a friendly, positive demeanour and to be approachable. This way you will be able to put your all into really making a difference to the health of the public.

Providing regular NHS Health Checks help to prevent over 1600 heart attacks and strokes, saving up to 650 lives a year. Therefore the work of our Camden Health Check Advisors is extremely valued.


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