Raising awareness

What week is it? Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of time, with work days merging into an endless stream punctuated by weekends or days off.  But take a look around and you might well find milestones, special events which can help to break up the pattern and inject fresh awareness and outlook.

Take the current week of the 13th to 19th June 2022 for example. There are no Bank Holidays, nor even school holidays, to break up the time. And yet, this week is special with not one, nor two, but three national campaigns to focus in on.

Let’s start with Men’s Health Week. Run by the Men’s Health Forum, this campaign calls on men to give themselves an MOT, to ‘take notice of what’s going on in your body and mind’ and to take action. Prostate cancer diagnosis fell by 29% between 2019 and 2020 due to covid lockdowns so that is one area of concern. But the MOT also looks at a range of areas from pulse and blood pressure rates to weight and mental awareness, encouraging men to check for common areas of potential concern and to take action.

With blood pressure and weight in mind, it is also the British Nutrition Foundation’s Healthy Eating Week. The aim of the week is to encourage everyone to have “a healthier and more sustainable diet.” Each day has a theme from Monday’s focus on fibre to Friday’s reduce food waste with 5 a day, protein, and hydration filling the other days.

What we eat can affect our health, so it is perhaps pertinent that the 13th to 19th June is also Diabetes Week. Promoted by Diabetes UK, the week is designed not only to celebrate those who are living with diabetes but also to promote awareness of the condition. Alongside events for everyone to get involved in there is also a ninety minute diabetes CPD course for non-specialist health care professionals, helping to provide the knowledge and skills required to better support diabetes patients.

For those in the health care profession, week’s such as these can be invaluable; not simply as ways of generating targeted publicity but also as a means to help patients to be aware of risks and opportunities and to take action to improve their own health. A general leaflet or quick chat is one thing; a national campaign is quite another. And whilst some patients may be galvanised by national publicity to check their own health and make appointments to discuss any concerns, health professionals can also proactively use these campaigns in order to reach out to those under their care.

Being aware of forthcoming campaigns can also enable health professionals to plan workloads and to ensure that they have the resources available should a particular action week result in an increase in patient calls. Even something as simple as having a call answering service on standby to take overflow calls or provide simple information could help health professionals to optimise the results from action weeks. Raising awareness is after all only the start of the journey to improving health and lifestyles.