New year, new you

At the time of writing the new year is nearly a week old and already we are starting to see a bit of a change. Not necessarily as a result of new year resolutions which can take far more than a few days to take hold. The more immediate change seen is that the incessant storms and rain of the past couple of months seem at last to be giving way to a spell of clearer but colder weather. And with that change comes increased challenges for health services, with slips and falls on icy surfaces increasing the burden on fracture and physiotherapy clinics.

Weather aside, what about those new year resolutions; how are they holding up? Interestingly this year a casual glance at the media gives the impression that the usual call to lose weight, get fit and so on is tempered by a realisation that grand gestures made as one year turns into the next are virtually doomed to failure. Instead, it is the small changes to attitude and lifestyle which have a far greater chance of succeeding.

For example, resolving to walk 10,000 steps a day might seem like a simple challenge; but the first day that you fall short of your goal can lead to the resolution being cast aside. On the other hand, a resolve to walk a bit more, perhaps to take the stairs rather than the lift, or to park at the far side of the supermarket car park, can make a measurable difference to step count. This writer even found that walking back and forward to the cupboards with a few dishes at a time rather than carrying as many as possible after washing up made a surprising difference to overall step count. And by introducing these small steps into a daily routine, it can be easier to succeed in changing habits for the long term rather than crumbling under the huge burden of an impossible task.

That same approach can also be applied to our working lives; both in helping our health practices to operate more smoothly and helping patients to optimise their treatment times. Even something as simple as an appointment reminder sent via SMS text can make a difference. Life can be crowded and an appointment reminder could help to job the memory; as a result, either helping to ensure an individual attends on time, cancels, or rebooks their appointment, thereby freeing up the slot for someone else.

So a simple step such as this, programmed into the appointment booking system, can help both patients and practices. Other simple steps could also result in a smoother experience. How about offering clients the opportunity to book online? It might not suit everyone but could help some people to make a booking as soon as they perceive a need rather than having to wait until the practice is open and answering calls at which time they themselves might not have the time to call.

Here again, a simple change now could have measurable results in the long term. That is perhaps why the message about promoting a ‘new you’ for 2024 says that it doesn’t always require a complete makeover. Sometimes small steps can lead to big changes.