Report evidences the positive impact of embedding inclusive physical activity, using a whole-systems approach

Local Delivery Pilot

Following a two-year pilot, the Prevention and Enablement Model (PEM) has demonstrated a significant impact on physical activity and wellbeing. The test and learn initiative used physical activity to help improve the lives of people living with disabilities and/or long-term health conditions.

Individuals who participated in PEM for longer, had higher physical activity levels and more favourable attitudes to physical activity, wellbeing, subjective health and self-efficiency. The Active Essex Local Delivery Pilot; one of 12 pilots chosen by Sport England to test innovative approaches to build healthier, more active communities across the county, developed a strategic partnership with Essex County Council’s Adult Social Care Teams and community organisation Sport for Confidence CIC, to create further opportunities for disabled people to be active and engage in physical activity within their community.

The evaluation of the two-year pilot, which ended in August 2022, and compiled and verified independently by the University of Essex, has provided fundamental findings and key recommendations around system-led opportunities, the hardwiring of physical activity, workforce and impact. This valuable insight will be carried forward, not only by the Active Essex Local Delivery Pilot, but also partners across the system. 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.

Prevention is taking action, and the partners involved in PEM have worked hard to develop a model to ensure residents can stay healthy, happy and independent for as long as possible. PEM has achieved transformational change by re-wiring the way we work as a system and by successfully using physical activity as a tool within a whole systems and preventative approach. This has enabled PEM to engage more than 1,000 participants every month through system-led, co-designed and context-specific opportunities within communities, including an integrated falls prevention programme, inclusive activity sessions in leisure centres, and the embedding of physical activity into the practice of Health and Social Care professionals.

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 Active Essex Chair 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.”

Key factors that have contributed to hardwiring physical activity as a preventative focus include understanding the system and leverage points, facilitative leadership, alignment with national policies, and organisations having a shared vision and working in a collaborative and integrated manner. Organisations with different knowledge, skills and resources have offered a more holistic and effective approach when working collaboratively, compared to working in silos.

The positive outcomes from the pilot are hugely encouraging, demonstrating that a whole-system approach to adult social care, has the potential to deliver significant positive impact on individuals, the economy and in reducing the growing health inequalities. Through the work of PEM, the pilot has successfully contributed to a change in culture and a re-orientation of practice. The Active Essex Local Delivery Pilot have aspirations to continue this work, building upon the foundations of the model and further strengthening relationships within the system.

To read the full report and to find out more about PEM, visit our webpage here.