The 2019 Equally Well Taking our pulse survey was a positive affirmation of the amount of Equally Well work going on throughout the length and breadth of Aotearoa New Zealand.

With 174 people responding, this snapshot of activities over the last 12-months shows that the Equally Well collaborative can be encouraged and inspired by the many actions undertaken to achieve physical health equity. Many initiatives have been embedded into usual practice. It is clear there is a strong network of individuals that are actively making things happen. 

The survey also highlighted that among the great work, the Equally Well movement there is still more to be done.

Initiatives mainly focussed on:  

  • providing support to pick up physical health issues and help manage physical health, for example through routine physical health checks, and metabolic monitoring, developing screening tools and resources, and providing physical health information tailored to people and whānau 
  • supporting people to improve their physical health, for example smoking cessation, helping with diet and exercise, supporting or funding dentist visits, and helping people access safe affordable home and stable employment 
  • increasing people’s access to primary care services, including funding GP appointments and offering extended consultations. 
  • working together with others to achieve physical health equity, for example collaborative/working groups or shared care particularly between specialist and primary care teams 
  • enhancing workforce capability and capacity, for example running specific education and training sessions on Equally Well for health practitioners and students, developing tools for the health workforce, and recruiting dedicated new roles to work within mental health and addiction services, for example dietitians. 

A quarter of the people who responded said their organisation had a current Equally Well action plan, another 39% were unaware if their organisation had an action plan. Additionally, some people were currently developing a plan, or were planning to soon.

Some challenges that emerged for implementing Equally Well initiatives included a lack of resources such as time, people or money, or workplace support. Some examples reinforced the need for good organisational change management and leadership support of Equally Well to encourage individual champions and to get more health practitioners on board.

Implications for all of us:

  • The Equally Well backbone team reviewed the results of the Taking our pulse survey and have taken a number of actions points from it. Whilst we recognise that Equally Well champions will use these survey findings in different ways to continue to create change, there are some recommendations for actions which arise from this survey. 
  • If you are unaware of your organisation’s Equally Well action plan, find out more. Over a third of the people who responded to the survey did not know if their organisation had an action plan.
  • If you already have an Equally Well action plan, consider if it is widely known and whether it needs a refresh. Consider also how you can promote your action plan within your organisation to increase awareness and uptake. Contact Rachel Kapeli to promote your organisation’s plan on the new ‘action plan’ section of the Equally Well website.
  • Share the findings of the survey with your colleagues/workplace/managers, particularly around how your Equally Well initiatives and those of others are having an impact on people and services.
  • Keep sharing what you are doing with the collaborative - including key issues and what you learned about how to support effective implementation. This could be through Loomio, Twitter, or when presenting to colleagues or others in the sector. The addiction sector for example, appears to be divided in their responses on what they can and can’t do as part of their role.
  • A consideration that the Equally Well collaborative needs to transform from awareness raising to a practical support entity. For example, the workforce in some NGOs may need support from other Equally Well champions to access simple consistent resources, in particular around healthy lifestyle behaviours. 

In conclusion, the survey showed us that everyone, regardless of role or sector have a role in achieving physical health equity. For many individuals and organisations, the physical health of people experiencing addiction and mental health issues now appears to have a high priority.