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YMCA on Fylde Coast

Date Added 02/11/2018

Based in the North West of England, the YMCA on Fylde Coast not only has its own fitness centres but also works in partnership with Wyre and Fylde Borough Councils to provide all of its community with access to facilities and programmes. It was recently awarded funding for a further two years following the success of its Your Move physical activity and weight management programmes.

Chris Rigby, Marketing Co-Ordinator for YMCA Your Move, explained: “We take a holistic and systematic approach to everyone in our community. This is achieved by identifying barriers and breaking them down. We work with Lancashire County Council and its Strategic Needs Assessment Team to help us understand the needs of target population. We deal with a really broad spectrum of people, many with severe health and financial challenges. We also collaborate with Sport England and our local CCGs to identify key areas where we need to reduce barriers.”

Commissioned and funded by Lancashire County Council Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), the registered charity initially received funding for three years.  Chris Rigby commented: “We are really proud of our evolution over the last three years. It is great to see the CCG is happy with security of our ‘partnership’ programme with local councils and authorities.”

The funding assisted YMCA to begin working with public health specialists ReferAll in 2016. “Prior to using ReferAll we had three different software programmes, a membership package, survey system and Outlook. Our whole system was really bitty so we decided to streamline the service into one. ReferAll has been a crucial element to provide evidence of our programme successes to our commissioners. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and programme participant attendance are all at our fingertips. Previously it was a question of collating spreadsheets and graphs and this could take up to two weeks to pull together. These figures were an essential part of our funding renewal alongside qualitative evidence, such as questionnaires and case studies.”

ReferAll provides a fast and efficient online referral pathway for Exercise on Referral schemes.  The software connects GP practices, commissioners, scheme administrators and instructors, both in the office and at the activity delivery sites, such as leisure centres and community halls, via tablets.  This ensures all data is collected centrally, enabling real-time reporting with ease on anything from uptake demographics to evaluation of improvement in activity levels. 

Always innovating, in June 2016, Fylde YMCA launched a self-referral page on its Your Move website. “With the stresses on the NHS and health professionals it made sense to use technology to speed up the referral process and make it more efficient and effective for everyone. After two years, we now have a fifty, fifty split of referrals from the website and health professionals. We have achieved this by doing lots of outreach events, visiting hospitals, GPs and physiotherapists and encouraging them to direct patients to the website. This is not only easier for the health professionals but also for us as we receive all the information digitally, with all the required medical information, reducing admin time.”

Fylde YMCA uses ReferAll’s Hub to provide a seamless self-referral process from its website to the screening process and to its team of programme providers. The text messaging service is also used by coaches and instructors to provide group messages to session participants for both administrative and motivational purposes.

Commenting on ReferAll, Chris Rigby said: “As a company, they deal with any issues in a professional manner but most importantly they keep us informed. With ReferAll, we knew that we would love their software but we didn’t expect such a personal level of customer service. The human element behind any system is always crucial, so it is great to have this personalised service.

“Our efficiency has improved because everyone has access to just one system. All the information is in one place and this can be taken out to any of our community sessions on tablets or laptops. Our Couch to 5K sessions are a great example. The coaches have quick access to any relevant medical information and emergency contact details. They no longer have to call the office or take out all the paperwork with them to sessions.”

The YMCA on Fylde Coast initiated its programmes nine years ago with physical activity sessions. Called YActive, this twelve-week GP referral programme began the YMCA’s evolution into specialisms which now feature children and family programmes as well as community activity sessions. The programmes include Your Move Physical Activity, Weight Management, Cardiac Rehabilitation, Your Move Kids, Your Move Teens and Community Sport.

“Our community sport sessions are a particular favourite as they represent prevention rather than intervention. These free sessions began via our work with Sport England as part of the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign in 2015 and now include running for ladies, health walks, table tennis and badminton, walking football, ladies-only Spinning, walking netball, yoga and parkrun.”

Whilst many of the Your Move programmes take place at the YMCA’s own health and fitness facilities, the problem-solving charity also recognised this as a barrier to some people attending.

“We aren’t required by our CCGs to run programmes in community facilities but it makes sense for us to do this in collaboration with Fylde Council. Some people aren’t comfortable coming to gyms so if we can take our sessions into the community it makes them non-threatening and reduces barriers.”

In the future, Fylde YMCA aims to retain its referral programmes but also to expand its community sessions: “We really feel we are on to something, not only with the programmes like Couch to 5 but also with exit programmes like parkrun, Jolly Joggers sessions or local running clubs. Many women identify as not being interested in physical activity but by providing sessions in non-threatening and easily accessible community facilities we can encourage them to get active and find something they enjoy. Having specialist services in the community is definitely a key focus for the future. We want to evolve our programmes and provide fun, free, affordable sessions to improve physical activity for the community. ReferAll will continue to help us with the evolution of our services by ensuring we remain customer focused and efficient in all our endeavours. ”