Problems and challenges
On the southwest coast of Norway there is a small municipality named Finnøy. People (about 3050) live on 16 different islands in beautiful surroundings. The problem is that a lot of people are struggling with a variety of lifestyle challenges. The population is ageing, the lifestyle related illnesses are significant, old people die, while only few babies are born, the infrastructure is insufficient and few jobs are available. On top of this, large parts of the municipality have incomplete ICT access.
In the welfare and lifestyle project we developed an interactive website facilitating lifestyle improvement. We started with 12 weeks lifestyle course, open for all and free of charge. All participants get access to the interactive website and the health staff could do the individual guidance true the website. That improved the service, the access to ICT and innovation in health. Individual plan in physical activity, motivation and nutrition were the main issue in the lifestyle course.
A touching summary from the chief municipality medical officer in Finnøy, Dr. Med. Eivind Vestbø, is as follows:
- An effect of the investments enabled by Vital Rural Area is that doctors now have the opportunity to refer high-risk and secondary prevention patients to the Lifestyle courses.
- The Lifestyle program has connected the inhabitants of many islands, linking people together through mutual attraction and public attention around the project.
- Increased focus on lifestyle makes it easier for doctors to get approval for counseling in the consultation for those who need it most.
- The project has “opened the door” for more articles on health in the local newspaper. Among other things, the health department now has a regular health column in the newspaper.
- The project will very likely contribute to implement the Public Health Act in the municipality and giving it greater attention.
- The combination of motivation for physical activity and the establishing of a network of nature trails have probably inspired the inhabitants to seek nature experiences to a greater extent on other islands. This also helps to increase the sense of community that has largely been lacking until now.
- The Lifestyle program has brought inexperienced ICT users into the ICT world. This is important for helping people in marginal health groups to cope.
- The Lifestyle program can have the spin off effect of making people more aware of the unique nature in their neighborhood and to use it more for recreation and health purposes in the future.
- The project has made the municipality of Finnøy more familiar and attractive for families considering moving to the islands - "important things are going on there."
- The health care staff is more proud of their job and very likely to think more in the direction of preventive health care as a result of the Vital Rural Area project.
- Infrastructure ( depending on ferry/ boats to come to the community centre)
- ICT – incomplete broad band supply
- Lack of communication between health personell and the public
- Lack of Cross-sectorial communication
- Establishing an interactive website for information about lifestyle and interactive guidance to facilitate people to participate in a 12-week lifestyle course.
- Help from the County Council to put pressure on suppliers and re-negotiation of broadband delivery contracts (added value – cables were laid during the subsea tunnel construction)
- Establishing of cross-sectorial meeting places for improved communication between sectors. For example regular meetings, seminars, workshops and a highly successful regional conference. A direct result of the Vital Rural Area input!
- Webbased coaching programme for lifestyle improvement: interview with initiators, September 27, 2013