NHS - Brief opportunistic advice

Every Contact Counts covers Brief Opportunistic Advice (BOA). BOA actively raises awareness of healthy lifestyle issues during an employee’s day-to-day contact with a person. Providing BOA can take between 30 seconds and five minutes and might lead on to other interventions.

BOA is not just for psychologists, professional counsellors, nurses or clinicians. Anyone dealing with the public - police officers, probation officers, housing workers, fire service workers – has a 1 in 3 chance of, for example, dealing with an excessive alcohol user.

BOA skills are relatively straightforward and the health messages behind them are understood. The real training needs are attitude and confidence. Therefore, our e-learning addresses the following issues:

 “This is not my job”: addressed in the core learning by showing examples of BOA being delivered effectively by staff at all levels.

I don’t have the confidence to do this”: addressed by providing easily remembered information and by showing examples within a relevant and familiar context, the e-learning illustrates a range of tools and techniques to help them ‘raise the issues’ sensitively without patronising or appearing to ‘lecture’ the recipient. Access to the Knowledge Bank provides the learner with additional information and explanation if they feel they need it or are simply just interested to learn more.

“I don’t feel comfortable doing this”: video sequences and pen-portraits of staff that have overcome this issue help address this. For example, we include an interview with a person that is overweight themselves and focus on the empathetic approach that they adopted when delivering BOA. 

“I’m not a doctor – I don’t have the knowledge”: in the core learning we show that the message can sometimes be more effective when delivered by non-clinical staff. In addition, the Knowledge Bank provides underpinning knowledge about core health messages as well as signposting other resources and support services. 

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Training to teach NHS staff to provide brief opportunistic advice