Improving the Lives of People Living with Long-Term Health Conditions
In the UK, 15 million people live with a long-term physical or mental health condition. Research by Professor Andy Turner and Dr Faith Martin from Coventry University’s Centre for Intelligent Healthcare has been influential in the field of positive psychology (improving personal and societal wellbeing), leading to the development of several self-management interventions.
Turner and Martin responded to a call for more research into the role of positive psychology in self-management programmes, as such an analysis had not been well developed before. They both worked with the NHS and voluntary, charity and social enterprise sector (VCSE) partners to develop a range of positive psychology theory-based self-management interventions. This was called the Hope Programme; a six-week in person and digital intervention designed to build knowledge, skills, and confidence to self-manage health and wellbeing.
Macmillan Cancer Support have licensed the Hope Programme since 2014, providing benefits for people living with cancer and becoming a core service offer in 106 cancer centres across the UK. To date, 11,936 cancer survivors have attended the Hope Programme, with 1,159 volunteer and professional facilitators trained. Macmillan’s post-programme evaluation established that 43% of participants felt more confident to self-manage, 46% felt their quality of life improved, and 56% felt less isolated.
A social enterprise spin-out, Hope 4 The Community CIC (H4C), was launched by Turner and four service users in 2015 to further develop and commercialise the programme. This was achieved through licensing the Hope Programme across the public and private health sectors and adaptation of it to support those affected by long-term conditions such as multiple sclerosis, parent caregivers of autistic children and parent caregivers of children with cancer. H4C have trained parent volunteers to deliver 50 Hope Programme interventions to 1,179 parents of autistic children and children with cancer. The research has shown parents report significant improvements in depression (68%), anxiety (40%), positive mental wellbeing (30%), hope (42%), and gratitude (21%).
In 2017, NHS England commissioned the Hope Programme to develop a new model of care for people with long-term conditions across Devon. 196 volunteer and professional facilitators were trained, and 178 courses delivered to 2,565 people. Post-intervention evaluations demonstrated that participants experienced improved mental wellbeing and reduced health service usage. The programme was extended across the whole of the Southwest region in 2020 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan implementation.
From 2017-2022, H4C co-created twelve Hope Programme interventions, generating income totalling £715K and re-investing £40k of profit into its social mission, including funding events connecting wellbeing research to the arts. In the lead up to Coventry City of Culture 2021, H4C developed an award-winning Gratitude Wall community art project, bringing Turner and Martins research to the public. The large chalkboard toured 60 events, collecting over 12,000 expressions of gratitude to boost people’s happiness.
H4C rapidly scaled its digital Hope Programme in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing innovative digital wellbeing support to 3,774 people between March 2020 to March 2022. Coventry City Council also funded a new intervention focusing on carers. H4C trialled innovative in person and digital delivery models, and the use of VR headsets to offer choice and accessibility.
H4C employs four full-time core staff, 20 consultants, students and volunteers, and it was named in the UK’s top 25 social enterprises in the NatWest SE100 ‘Trailblazing Newcomers’ Index. More importantly, 17,275 people have benefited from the Hope Programme to feel less anxious, depressed, and stressed, and more grateful and hopeful.