The Active Essex Local Delivery Pilot, developed a strategic partnership with Essex County Council’s Adult Social Care Team and community organisation Sport For Confidence CIC, to create further opportunities for disabled people and those living with a long-term health condition, to be active and engage in physical activity within their community.

The impact of PEM has been independently assessed by the University of Essex and the evaluation of the two-year pilot, which ended in August 2022, has provided fundamental findings and key recommendations around system-led opportunities, the hardwiring of physical activity, workforce and impact.

Using a whole system approach, PEM has enabled relationships to strengthen with third sector partners. By adopting this approach and working towards one objective, local authorities, the NHS, care homes and the Provider Quality Innovation team, have all benefitted from the use of the model.

System-Led Opportunities

PEM developed a range of system-led, co-designed and context-specific opportunities to promote active lifestyles and connections within communities.

  • Developing an integrated falls prevention programme
  • Delivering inclusive activity sessions in leisure centres
  • Enabling and supporting Health and Social Care professionals to embed physical activity into their everyday practice
  • Over 900 unique users attended the integrated falls prevention programme and community based sessions
  • We had average attendances of over 1000 per month within community-based sessions (includes individuals attending multiple times per week)
  • Physical activity has been used as a tool to enable independence and achieve wider outcomes.
  • PEM has provided choice and empowered individuals and groups. This was underpinned by the initial work to understand existing provision and use evidence-based and place-based solutions.

Embedding Physical Activity

PEM has made excellent progress in embedding physical activity and a preventative focus across the Essex system. Creating an exciting and ongoing shift in culture and practice in Health and Social Care, particularly in Care Homes and Occupational Therapy.


Embedding physical activity across the system has been underpinned by:

  • Understanding the system and its leverage points
  • Facilitative leadership
  • Alignment with national policies
  • Individuals and organisations across the system developing a shared vision and working collaboratively

Workforce Development & Practice-Based Learning

A key focus and success of PEM was to develop knowledge, skills, and capacity in the Health and Social Care workforce, through training and education.

  • Care Home staff and Occupational Therapists had previously received limited or no training in physical activity promotion
  • Physical activity was discussed with less than half of their service users
  • Conversations typically focused on general physical activity rather than muscle strengthening activity and breaking up sedentary behaviour
  • Barriers to promoting physical activity were: time, knowledge, skills, resources & support
  • Recipients highly valued the training, not just for the knowledge and skills that it developed, but also the opportunity it provided to build networks to share best practice.
  • PEM has enabled, developed, and supported many of the workforce to embed physical activity into their daily practice and has enhanced job satisfaction.

Impact of PEM

Insights revealed that people who accessed PEM services perceived themselves to have experienced several benefits including enhanced health, wellbeing, confidence, skills, independence and routine and structure.

PEM has also had a demonstrable and significant impact on physical activity and wellbeing. Individuals who had participated in PEM for longer, had higher physical activity levels and more favourable attitudes to physical activity, wellbeing, subjective health and self-efficiency.

Value of PEM
  • Using the WELLBY to compare those involved in PEM for 1-month, compared to those just starting out, demonstrated a difference in life satisfaction estimated to equate to £22,230 per person, per year.
  • When considered against direct running costs, PEM could deliver an estimated £58.71 of social value per each £1 invested.
  • A slight decrease was also seen in self-reported service use (i.e., day care, formal/informal support, GP visits, ambulance calls & hospital visits). A tentative estimate equates this to a cost saving of £365.23 per PEM participant, per year, split accross Adult Social Care (£163.34 & the wider system (£201.90)

Lyndsey Barrett, founder of Sport for Confidence and lead Occupational Therapist said;

“Through the work Sport for Confidence has delivered over the last 7 years, we already know and witness every day, the far-reaching impact physical activity has on the lives of individuals. What the PEM initiative has now evidenced is the true extent of the potential, not just for individuals but for the whole of society.  An active, engaged, population is a healthier, happier population which results in a population that is less reliant on or likely to call upon health care interventions.”


Through community partnerships, targeted improvements in social outcomes, such as reductions in isolation and loneliness, and increased participation and connection with communities, PEM has created a sense of belonging and inclusion for its participants.


Dr William Bird, GP and Chair of Active Essex commented;

“We know that physical activity plays an important role in ensuring residents feel safe, have a sense of belonging and lead healthy lives. PEM takes on a preventative approach centred around physical activity, to help reduce demand on the healthcare system and the challenges of social isolation. As a GP, supporting initiatives like this and encouraging partners and stakeholders to get on board, will ensure that together we can create a lasting and meaningful change to improve health through these community connections.”


Watch the Prevention and Enablement Model Webinar from 12th March 2021 below:

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