The West Sussex Health Trainers service was part of a national programme introduced by the Department of Health in 2006. The aim of the programme was to recruit people from local communities with a good understanding of local issues who could offer tailored advice, motivation and practical support to individuals who wanted to adopt a healthier lifestyle and act as message bearers between professionals and communities. A national package of accredited training was developed to support the work of the health trainers and develop their skills as part of the healthcare workforce.
The health trainers in West Sussex work generically in deprived communities in West Sussex, focusing on Local Neighbourhood Improvement areas (LNIAs) and with older people in other areas. They are employed by voluntary sector organisations (VSOs) who have been commissioned by the West Sussex Primary Care Trust (PCT) to deliver the service. West Sussex Primary Care Trust commissioned the University of Brighton to conduct an evaluation of the Health Trainers programme.
The research project commenced in April 2008 and ended in September 2009.
The aims of the evaluation were to:
The evaluation was able to offer valuable insight about the programme and make recommendations for improvements.
Researchers suggested enhanced training and support for health trainers, particularly to help those who may have been out of the workforce or who have little formal education or qualifications.
It was felt that the ‘health trainer’ role required greater clarity; guidance from health professionals was proposed as a necessary safeguard when advising clients with specific health issues.
The report also offered feedback on supporting clients with specific needs, partnership working, client outcomes and future monitoring.
Dr Lizzie Ward
Ward, L and Banks, L (2009) Evaluation of Health Trainers in West Sussex. Brighton, University of Brighton.
West Sussex Primary Care Trust