New teams to help people lead healthier lives at Horton

(L-R) Emma Hagues from the Here for Health team, alcohol liaison nurse Victoria Reeves, lead research nurse for gastro and hepatology Denise O'Donnell, alcohol liaison nurse Michelle Leyton, and consultant hepatologist Jeremy Cobbold. Photo: OUH
(L-R) Emma Hagues from the Here for Health team, alcohol liaison nurse Victoria Reeves, lead research nurse for gastro and hepatology Denise O'Donnell, alcohol liaison nurse Michelle Leyton, and consultant hepatologist Jeremy Cobbold. Photo: OUH

Two new teams have been set up to help patients, staff, and visitors lead healthier lives at the Horton General Hospital.

The Alcohol Care Team will be coming to the Banbury hospital on Friday to help patients manage their alcohol consumption with services ranging from an informal chat to help with accessing community support.

Lucy McMichael, health promotion practitioner for the Horton General Hospital's Here for Health team. Photo OUH

Lucy McMichael, health promotion practitioner for the Horton General Hospital's Here for Health team. Photo OUH

While the Here for Health team will be offering free advice on all aspects of improving health such as weight management, giving up smoking, becoming more active, and having a healthier diet from next week.

The team can also offer consultations tailored to individual needs, and can help make it as easy as possible to adopt small, sustainable, and realistic lifestyle changes to improve health and wellbeing.

They have a wide range of resources to help people access a variety of community services, and referral pathways set up to make it as easy as possible to get involved.

The team is also available to support inpatients that may need help with improving their lifestyle, and staff can refer patients directly to them.

Lucy McMichael, health promotion practitioner for the new team, said: “A lot of what the team do is support people make small, positive changes to their behaviour to live as healthy and happy a life as possible.

“Engaging with people and finding out their own individual needs is a very important part of helping them to make these changes – it’s not one size fits all, and people will have their own motivations for tackling their health, which we explore.”

Between August, 2014, and October, 2018, the Here for the Health team at the John Radcliffe Hospital had over 10,000 conversations with patients, staff, and visitors about improving their health – a success they want to replicate at the Horton.

Lucy said: “We can advise people on all kinds of ways of improving their health – so if they want help with things like stopping smoking, improving their diet, exercising more, reducing their blood pressure, or just want a quick health MOT, they can drop in to see us and have a quick chat.

“We’re not here to lecture anyone or make them feel uncomfortable; it’s simply an open and friendly conversation about how people can make the best choices to improve their health.”

The team will be available from Monday to Thursday between 10am and 4pm in the outpatient department at the Horton, starting on Monday, November 26.

The Alcohol Care Team is made up of two specialist nurses and works across Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s sites.

Some of the team’s key aims include reducing the stigma of people talking about their alcohol habits, guiding patients through community care, and ultimately reducing repeat admissions to hospital as a result of alcohol-related complications.

One of the nurses, Victoria Reeves, said: “A really important part of our job is making sure people feel comfortable and able to talk about their alcohol consumption.

“There’s still a stigma about drinking in this country, especially around discussing our own habits, but illnesses such as liver disease are on the rise and over-consumption of alcohol is one of the main contributors.

“It’s very easy to over-consume alcohol without realising it – both men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week, but a single bottle of wine is 10 units and a pint of regular beer or lager is two units.

“These soon all add up when they’re left unchecked.”

In 2014, the Lancet Commission on alcohol-related liver diseases estimated that health problems caused by alcohol are costing the NHS £3.5bn a year.

Denise O’Donnell, lead research nurse for gastro and hepatology at the trust, said: “The Alcohol Care Team is a big step forward for our trust.

“It started with monthly meetings about alcohol consumption and how we were seeing more and more people presenting with issues related to their drinking.

“We realised we needed a dedicated focus to best help our patients, and so the team was born.

“Staff can refer patients directly to the team, and with the help of our Here for Health colleagues they’ll help people address their drinking in a supportive and welcoming way.

“This service is for everyone – we’re not singling out individuals. Managing your alcohol intake is a great way to improve both physical and mental health, and we want to help people make healthier choices.”

People can also seek advice from their GP or self-refer to services such as Turning Point if they feel they need help and support reducing their alcohol intake.

The Alcohol Care Team will be in the main entrance of the Horton from 9am to 5pm on Friday (November 22).