User involvement in the development of a health promotion technology for older people: findings from the SWISH project
Successive English government policies about older people's health and well-being aim to improve health and quality of life by promoting independence. Improving access to information and services that can improve health and well-being and reduce health risks is central to the modernisation of health and social care. Most recently, tailored and person-centred approaches with a strong emphasis on promoting health and well-being are central to policy, including the proposals for 'Life Checks' and the recent emphasis on commissioning 'community well-being'. We carried out a qualitative study to identify the key aspects of social situations that affect health and well-being, from the perspectives of older people and professionals, to enrich and expand an existing health risk appraisal tool so that it could be used for self-assessment of health and social well-being. This tool, Health Risk Appraisal in Older people (HRAO), has been evaluated in different European settings, including English general practice. Focus groups were recruited from general practice, older people's forums, social care and voluntary organisations in two London boroughs where the HRAO tool had previously been tested. The social factors determining health that were prioritised by older people and service providers and recommended for inclusion in the health risk appraisal tool were recent life events, housing and garden maintenance, transport, both public and private, financial management, carer status & needs, the local environment and social networks and social isolation. This study has identified key social determinants of health that could usefully be added to 'Life Checks' for older people and that could also inform the commissioning of community well-being. Modified with the addition of social domains, the HRAO technology could be a suitable tool to achieve current policy objectives.