AN innovative project that sends text messages to recovering alcoholics to remind them about appointments has won two prestigious awards.
The Bolton Alcohol Relapse Prevention project, known as SHINE, sends texts to remind clients who are overcoming alcohol addiction about appointments and asks them to reply to say whether they can attend.
It also sends individually tailored messages to clients each day and depending on their response, will follow up with advice by text message or with a phone call.
Now the scheme has won the “health through technology” category of the North West Public Health Awards, and it was also highly commended at the National Health Service Journal awards in the “improving health through technology”
Both of the award ceremonies took place in November.
Earlier this year, the scheme was also voted the best public sector project at the Big Chip Digital Industry Awards. The judges described the project as “a fantastic example of the way interactive media is beginning to revolutionise healthcare”.
Health bosses say that results show there has been a significant improvement for people using the service compared to those who do not, with fewer people relapsing into alcoholism.
Shine was one of just 14 projects in the UK selected for funding by the Health Foundation in 2011.
It was developed by NHS Bolton, Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust Community Alcohol Team, Addiction Dependency Solutions and digital technology company d2 Digital by Design.
Bolton’s director of public health, Wendy Meredith, said: “This project uses really innovative means to solve an issue that doesn’t just cause significant cost to the NHS, but also causes huge personal suffering for many people across Bolton. Many people who suffer from alcohol dependency can feel isolated, particularly immediately after they finish detox, and this scheme makes it easier to communicate with this vulnerable group.”
Cllr Sufrana Bashir- Ismail, Bolton Council’s cabinet member for public health, said: “Any reduction in relapse rates is an achievement, not only for the organisations involved but also for the service users who are working hard to get their lives on track.”