Last updated on 22nd October 2009
People who have visited this blog a fair amount will know that I'm a huge fan of healthy lifestyle. It's a no-brainer. I've talked about this in Does healthy lifestyle really make a difference?, Common sense isn't common, Would you like to be 14 years younger - it's largely a matter of choice! and many other posts. Happily governments realise the importance of these issues, although sometimes they seem to back off making difficult political choices that would make equally good sense.
Four years ago the UK government initiated a consultation Your health, your care, your say. Respondents emphasised that they wanted to take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing - and 75% identified regular health checks as a top priority for helping them do this. Rather than place extra demands on already over-stretched NHS staff, the subsequent white paper made a commitment to develop services initially to help three key age groups monitor and better manage their own health and that of their baby. These three NHS LifeChecks are now available online - for parents/carers of young babies, teenagers, and the middle aged. Each LifeCheck starts with a simple lifestyle questionnaire with multiple choice answers. Users are then given tailored advice, "top tips", and guided to further sources of information and local support. The LifeChecks are designed particularly to be accessible for people who might not usually be well informed about healthy lifestyle. The three services are:
Baby LifeCheck - for parents and carers of 5-8 month old babies. Topics include how your baby is developing, playing and learning together, keeping your baby safe, feeding and healthy teeth, sleep routines, and becoming a parent.
Teen LifeCheck - for 12-15 year olds. Using the tag line "Check it before you wreck it", this approximately 10 minute questionnaire looks at diet, exercise, use of legal & illegal drugs, sexual behaviour, bullying, emotional health and other topics. It provides information and advice on making step-by-step changes.
Mid-life LifeCheck - for 45 to 60 year olds. Again areas covered include the core issues of diet, weight, exercise, alcohol, smoking and also social support and emotional wellbeing. The advice is personalised and is aimed to help with making " ... small changes in your life that could have a big impact on your health and wellbeing. You can set goals and ask for email and text reminders to support you with your plan."
These are good resources to know about, to recommend and to use. This is further background information available on the LifeChecks that may be of particular interest to health professionals, and this is simply one section of a broader set of NHS online health improvement resources. Good, helpful stuff ...