November 1, 2023
Healthy Hearts Hubs recently launched in Wakefield
The Wakefield district has been chosen as one of only four areas in the country, and the only one in Yorkshire, by NHS England to trial a project called the Healthy Hearts Community Hubs.
The hubs, held in local community venues, are an innovative new approach set up to help prevent heart disease, moving away from a formal medical setting.
The first sessions have already opened at Airedale Library and more will be rolled out in other community venues across the district.
Cllr Maureen Cummings, Cabinet Member for Communities, Poverty and Health, said: “We are really pleased to have been chosen by the NHS to pilot this important project that is working in local communities to help prevent heart disease.
“The project uses venues that people already go to, such as libraries. It’s a great way to reach more people.
“Healthy Hearts Community Hubs provide friendly, personalised support to help people better manage their own heart health and potentially avoid more serious issues.
“This initiative is a great example of what can be achieved by councils like ours, working in partnership with our colleagues in the NHS.”
The hub idea is based on a successful evidenced based Canadian Heart Health Awareness project and is being run in partnership with GP practices, the NHS, and Wakefield Council.
Jo Webster, Wakefield District Health and Care Partnership Accountable Officer, said: “As a district, cardiovascular disease prevention is a key priority to improve the health outcomes for all our residents living in Wakefield. It can save lives, improve quality of life, and reduce hospital readmissions.
“The Healthy Hearts Community Hub aims to reduce the number of people suffering from, and dying from, cardiovascular disease by helping people understand more about their cardiovascular risk and supporting them to reduce these risks.”
Nearly 1 in 15 adults in Wakefield are registered by their GP as having heart disease. People in the Wakefield district are more likely to die of heart disease before they are 75 than the England average.
There are several approaches which make these hubs unique, including:
- The hubs are located in libraries and community centres rather than a GP practice. This makes them more accessible and can potentially reduce the number of people visiting GP surgeries. This means they are more likely to get help much earlier and on a more regular basis if needed.
- Everyone who attends can get their blood pressure taken and be shown how to take theirs at home. High blood pressure is the most important risk factor in reducing heart and circulatory disease.
- The hubs will operate throughout the month in different community venues, and people can either drop in or are invited by their GP practice. They can keep coming back or just attend as a one-off. They offer added elements of support not often available at GP practice and information to help people manage their heart health, things to avoid, lifestyle changes, and making healthier choices.
- People who come along can speak to and get support from trained volunteers, known as Peer Leaders, who have experience of living with heart diseases. These volunteers can offer advice, tips and listen to people’s concerns.
Angela Lennon, one of the Peer Leaders, said: “I became involved in the Healthy Hearts Community Hub because I know how it feels when your health is changing. I was born with heart disease, which means that I have experienced the symptoms, difficulties and concerns that may affect people who develop cardiovascular disease in later life.
“I love being part of the community hubs because it’s about giving something back to people and services for me. It is also because the hubs are taking the help that people need, to them, in an informal way from people who can identify with them, as well as health professionals.”
The next session of the Healthy Hearts Community Hub will be on 7 November, at Airedale Library at 2.30-4.30pm.