A group of older people enjoying the accessible beach ball session at Foxhole Community Centre in Paignton. The sessions are run by J-Step and is a project Active Devon is supporting.

Working with Health and Care Partners on the Importance of Physical Activity

Collaborating with health and care systems and local authorities on the importance of movement is key towards improving health and wellbeing. We hold a shared goal with our health, care and local authority partners that is built on working together to address inequality and create better health outcomes for the people of Devon.

Responding to Local Need

We recognise the landscape is changing with the emergence of Integrated Care Systems. This provides the health system with an opportunity to pull together strengths and capacity across a whole network to get to grips with the challenge that comes with stubborn inequality.

Whilst our collaborative contribution specifically comes through the ability of sport, physical activity and movement to transform lives, we are constantly responding to local need. We listen to what is important for communities and connect with our Health and Council partners to bring value in the right way.

Evidence and Insight

It is clear that people and communities who move more in their everyday lives are likely to have better health over a long term. Plus, be more economically active, respond well to educational opportunities and have strong connections to each other.

Equally, evidence shows that those who are more active as a means to managing a long-term condition will have reduced symptoms, a greater sense of well-being and more agency over their condition. In fact, a recent consensus statement from experts across the health landscape has determined that physical activity is a safe and effective way to prevent ill health and manage long-term conditions.

Overall, we know that regular physical activity changes lives and outcomes for the better, for individuals, communities and society. In fact leading an active life can reduce risk of disease by at least 20% with significant risk reductions in:

  • Cardio Vascular Disease (35%)*
  • Diabetes (40%)*
  • Depression (30%)*
  • Hip Fractures (68%)*

*Source: Department of Health 2021.

On the flipside we also know ‘inactivity’ is one of the four leading risk factors for preventable early mortality along with poor diet, smoking and alcohol (World Health Organisation 2021).

With this in mind our work to ensure physical activity becomes a cornerstone of all health, care and public policy is a priority. It gives us the mandate to work together with colleagues across the landscape to addressing barriers to physical activity that can be a key factor in social inequality.

What Does Health, Care and Local Authority Collaboration System Look Like?

In Northern Devon and in Eastern Devon we are supporting the Local Care Partnership towards their emerging priorities. We are working on ways that physical activity, in these places, can help make a difference. In this example we work with our health partners utilising their insight and targeting population groups most affected by inequality. This is where we invest our resource and support system change thinking helping co-design and testing approaches guided by lived experience.

In Plymouth and Torbay we are supporting both Local Authority partners through our public health connections and through the health system. As a system leader on Active to Thrive in Plymouth and Torbay on the Move we are able to be a catalyst in embedding physical activity into system thinking and help change lives through moving more. For example, bringing the value of physical activity into Trauma Informed Practice in Plymouth aimed at Children, Young People and Families. Plus, in Torbay we are helping build the confidence of professionals working in Mental Health services to engage with physical activity as core to their offer.

What Does Health and Care System Collaboration Look Like Devon-wide?

On a Devon-wide perspective we support One Devon, the new Integrated Care System for Devon, as they begin to get to grips with their priorities. As part of this, we support the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) assembly that feeds into the new system whilst also working directly with system leads on specific areas of work, such as ageing-well.

Finally, we hugely value the role our local authority partners play in shaping a more active society. A specific area of our work here is supporting Leisure Service provision, where we lead the Devon Local Authority Leisure Network helping maximise the use of our built assets to ensure people are moving more whether visiting a GP referral scheme or learning to swim.

Get in Touch as Conversation Can Lead to Collaboration

If there is an area of your work within a health or public system context that we can help with please get in touch with us, we’d love a conversation. It’s these conversations that lead to collaboration, a cornerstone in social transformation. To contact us, go to our Meet the Team page and search for the Movement for Health Wellbeing team.

Working Together for Bigger Impact

Here’s a quote from Andrea Beacham, who is the Senior Programme Manager for Health Inequalities at One Northern Devon:

“I would really like us to be at a place where we value physical activity in all our health work, a place where we understand both the barriers and the enablers, so we maximise that value.” Andrea Beacham – One Northern Devon