The HI Project began in 2003 as a 2 year initiative aimed at providing accurate and appropriate health information to NHS service users and their carers living and working within the Western Isles.
Originally entitled the Western Isles Patient & Carers Information Project (WIPCIP), the HI Project was aimed at providing accurate and appropriate information to vulnerable groups (in particular those with mental health problems) and their carers in the Western Isles. The Project was also to address the requirements of the Patient Focus Public Involvement (PFPI) initiative.
The original Project was to create a total of six health information sites to be established within larger community areas in the Western Isles.
Health information provided was to be aimed at national and local priority groups (mental health, children, older people) and priority conditions (chest, heart, stroke and cancer). It was also hoped to recruit volunteers, provided with specific training, to be located at each of the six sites. A part-time Coordinator was also employed in 2003 to coordinate the Project.
From research conducted on health information available via the Internet, and materials NHSWI and other Scottish Board’s were utilising, the ‘Intouch with Health’ system was sourced. ‘Intouch with Health’ was found to meet the overall requirements of the Project, whilst allowing Western Isles information and links to be added. A licence was purchased for use on any pc within the boundaries of the Western Isles, regardless of location, including home and work access, as well as additional public access points already identified.
A partnership was formed between WIPCIP (comprising representatives from NHS Western Isles and the voluntary sector) and Intouch with Health Ltd. Funding was also obtained from Volunteer Development Scotland to match local funding.
Launched simultaneously on the Islands of Lewis and Barra in 2004, the HI Project has forged links with statutory, voluntary, community groups and agencies, as well as collaborating with the Healthy Working Lives scheme to target employers and workplaces throughout the Western Isles.
The HI Project continued to be a lead for health information both within the Western Isles and within Scotland, with the result of NHS Western Isles continuing to fund the Intouch with Health Ltd licence to 2013.
In April 2013, HI was relaunched in order to link into the national NHSinform website, which has been established as the single source provider of quality assured and accessible health information.
The new HI site continues to be used as the ‘first point’ gateway for those living and working within the Western Isles.
As well as supporting and raising awareness of local health-related services, the new HI site offers information on local and national events and campaigns, as well as links to national health-related services.