Life Leisure Q&A

by Stuart Stokes on November 5, 2019

At ReferAll, we’re always keen to go behind the scenes and find out more about how our customers are using our software solution and the difference it’s making.

Life Leisure in Stockport has been using our online system since 2014 and has recently produced some truly astounding outcome reports from its Physical Activity Referral in Stockport (PARIS) scheme.

We spoke to Michelle Childs, Health Development Manager at Life Leisure:


Tell us a little more about the PARIS scheme …

PARIS was one of the first exercise on prescription schemes in the country; people were just starting to talk about the positive health benefits of physical activity when it started in 1992. We had 400 referrals in that first year. Everything is subsidised, so in our most deprived areas we have free supervised gym sessions and across our nine-leisure facility estate it costs between £2 and £3.10 for swimming and activity sessions.

ReferAll came on board in 2014. By then, we were getting around 1,300 referrals a year, but our data collection was pretty basic. We needed a system that was secure from a data protection point of view as well as able to capture the results people were getting to enable us to show the impact we were having.


How has ReferAll changed the way you work?

Initially we could only show how many people had taken up the PARIS service; we didn’t know how many were being referred or where they’d come from (Stockport is broken down into eight localities). And as for outcomes, we couldn’t do any insight or analysis, or measure if people were making progress.

Our only way to even begin to ‘prove’ success was to phone people and put what they told us into Excel. It’s was incredibly arduous and, from the commissioners’ point of view, there was no proof.

Now we use the data ReferAll provides to tell the commissioner a story about what people look like when they come in and then when they finish six months later.


Can you share some headline figures?

Using ReferAll’s data we can demonstrate that for every two people who start on the PARIS scheme – we get 2,300 referrals year and in 2019 approximately 1,680 joined us – one will complete six months. Most schemes are 12 weeks; ours is long by comparison.

On average, our take up rate for PARIS is 71.7% and approximately 52% complete the six-month course. The average increase in physical activity is 61.5%. We also know that on average people improve their mental health and wellbeing by 18%.

For me, the most interesting data comes from asking people their best imaginable health state. We get participants to rate their health on a scale of 0-100 on the day they begin. Our average starting health is 54.3 and by the end of the course its 73.6.

Referral year - 1st Oct - 30th Sept Number of referrals Take up rate Completion rate
2015-20126 1869 1298 (69%) 576 (44%)
2016-2017 1568 1161 (74%) 661 (57%)
2017-2018 2147 1505 (70.1%) 790 (52.5%)
2018-2019 2327 1669 (71.7%) Not known to date (ongoing)


How do you use the data?

We all know exercise works; what I love is that ReferAll allows us to prove it. We can demonstrate that physical activity does all the things the evidence says it should do, from reducing weight or BMI and improving mental health to helping mobility or pain issues.

We have quarterly meetings with the commissioners from Stockport Council and produce an annual report at the end of the year, using the data to show how much the scheme has grown and what we’re giving back.

For example, I know that since three years ago we’ve increased the number of people starting on the scheme by 600 a year. Every single person takes up to three hours of my team’s time, so we are finding 1,800 hours of extra time for no extra money. Our target is to see 1400 people a year so at the end of this year we’ll have helped 280 extra people above our contractual target at no extra cost to public health, which demonstrates just how much Life Leisure is investing in exercise referral. We could never have given this level of insight or show how much of a clinical need there is for the PARIS scheme without ReferAll’s data.


Topics: Referral Schemes