Introducing Joanne Bosanquet MBE, Deputy Director of Nursing at Public Health England and why she is making every contact count - first in a series of blogs from our Week of Action on Helping People to Stay Independent, Maximising Well-being and Improving Health Outcomes.
I have a lot to share with you already but the most important thing is my excitement to be part of such an energetic team in PHE and also working with my nursing colleagues at the Department of Health, Health Education England and NHS England. My first weeks have been filled with meetings, conversations and thoughts about public health, the public’s health (there is an important difference) and what nurses across the board can and are doing to support Action Area 1 of Compassion in Practice. Speaking to Duncan Selbie recently, the Chief Executive of PHE, it was clear that he valued the contribution all nurses make to improving the public’s health and is proud to be associated Compassion in Practice.
Enveloping this vital nursing strategy for England is the expression making every contact count or MECC as I hear it referred to. MECC is about taking an opportunity to engage a person in health seeking behaviours, signposting and generally being aware of their wider needs and surroundings. In all honesty, I hadn’t heard about MECC until fairly recently (the realm of health protection isn’t touchy feely!) but I feel that it’s been around forever in one incarnation or another. It certainly has been in my world. I take my job very seriously and genuinely feel honoured to be granted access to someone’s life. That so, shouldn’t we all be making every effort to enable, facilitate, encourage, support and inform decisions or harder still, should we then accept it when someone doesn’t want to or isn’t in a place to change behaviour? That’s a hard one and requires our professional skills and empathy about how and when to ‘nudge’. I strongly believe that we do have a responsibility to embed MECC as a culture throughout our organisations, whatever they may be.
My background is in general nursing, then later in public health (health visiting and health protection) and I have spent most of the latter engaging as much as possible with the next generation of nurses, trying hard not to lose my roots and staying ‘real’. It’s easy to become siloed when you specialise. You sometimes forget that there is a bigger world out there. In health protection work, I sometimes forgot that my priority, for example advising a parent to immunise their child or asking a parent to keep their child at home following a bout of food poisoning may not be that family’s priority. Did I really make every contact count? Was I aware of the potential influence I had during that encounter? Not always. Did I think I had the time to be doing it? Maybe not. Think about the millions of contacts between health and social care staff and the public in one year. Now think about the potential for change if we all committed to engage with this drive? I could go further by saying that we too could do with being on the receiving end of MECC. Promoting and facilitating healthy lifestyles amongst ourselves is as important. The purpose of Occupational Health teams across the health sector is changing from a reactive service to a health and wellbeing service. I have seen it in PHE and it feels right.
There is so much to say on MECC and its relation to Action Area 1. In fact, there is much to say about all the components in the implementation plan. Join us this week, beginning 28 October 2013, when we will be out and about tweeting, running webinars and participating in a We Nurse’s twitter chat. To register for the webinar and find out what else is going on, go to http://www.6cs.england.nhs.uk/pg/groups/67577/Contact+us/
For further information on AA1 Go to http://www.england.nhs.uk/nursingvision/actions/area-1/
For further information on MECC, go to http://www.midlandsandeast.nhs.uk/Portals/0/contact%20counts/mecc_booklet.pdf
For further information on the products to support public health nursing, go to https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/developing-the-public-health-contribution-of-nurses-and-midwives-tools-and-models
Deputy Director of Nursing
Public Health England