Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Why I’m a Bupa Health Assessment convert

This glorious weather we’ve been having has meant no one is in the house and everyone is in the garden, all the time. It’s great – screens are off (as well as tops) and the sound of footballs thunking around the yard is probably annoying the neighbours as much as our endless (vegan) barbecues.

No one has done themselves an injury yet, but recent research from Bupa Health Clinics reveals the correlation between warmer weather and a rise in injuries –almost a fifth (19%) of summer injuries are caused from playing garden games with friends and family. Uh oh…

And guess what? The research found that two million Britons said being too competitive in a game of summer sport caused an injury. I’m thinking back to the weekend where Mike and I were engrossed in a particularly fierce badminton battle. Thank goodness the shuttlecock ended up in the hedge, otherwise there’s every likelihood I could’ve ended up in A&E.

So what can you do to help prepare for a summer of garden games and family time in the sunshine? 

I’d known that Bupa offered Health Assessments for a while now, after a work colleague told me about it a few years ago. But I’d never gone beyond a cursory explore of the website. I’ve been lucky with my health so far. There are a few ongoing things including a scoliosis in my spine that gives me gyp, which I should perhaps be more aware of in the summer when I am possibly more active. Plus some other stuff I’m beginning to notice (thanks middle age!). But overall? I think things are okay. I am, however, quite paranoid about my health and – if I’m really honest – scared that it could all fall apart at any time. Which is why I bit the bullet and said yes to a Bupa Health Enhance assessment.

The appointment is a two-hour slot at Bupa’s new-ish Bristol home in the Spectrum Building. I remember this blue, glass building going up in the mid-eighties and just how incredibly modern it was. The Bupa clinic feels clean and inviting, and I got an equally warm welcome from Harry on the front desk. First up, I followed Health Advisor Tom into a consultation room where the assessment began. Tom talked me through the whole process which put me at ease – he was incredibly proficient, knowledgeable and calm. I’d already filled out a health questionnaire before my visit to let the team know what sorts of things might be worth investigating.

The first hour of the Health Enhance assessment involves a series of tests and measures to identify key health risks, focusing on cardiovascular, diabetes and chronic kidney disease risks, musculoskeletal issues and lifestyles issues. My blood and urine were both tested then and there in the on-site lab, which was a surprise (I was expecting them to be sent off for analysis and to receive the results much later), and there were other unexpected surprises too. Tom took my blood pressure not once but three times and on both arms – did you know that a significant difference between arms can be an indicator of something serious? No, me neither. I’m weirdly interested in this kind of stuff so found it all fascinating.

During the musculoskeletal assessment (it’s a choice of that or hearing), Tom watched as I did a series of physical moves to see how flexible I am and what areas might need work (no surprise to hear that my core strength isn’t great!). I noticed how reassuring Tom was throughout the whole thing, which really made a difference – there was no judgement, it was clear he had my interests in mind the entire time.

After half an hour of tests, we had half an hour to talk through the results and come up with a plan. All my cardiovascular tests came back clear which I was happy about. The main issues we discussed were around alcohol intake (too high!) and weight. The software Bupa uses to chart your results is really easy to read, and I found the type 2 diabetes illustration particularly meaningful. My likelihood of developing the disease over the next ten years is 2.5% which didn’t seem high, but Tom explained that it should be 0.8%. Losing 10kg would take me much closer to that, as well as reducing the likelihood of developing other weight-related conditions. So there’s a very clear goal for me to pursue, but alongside fat reduction we talked about gaining muscle which is really important for middle-aged women as a way to combat osteoporosis - back to David Lloyd for me.

The second hour of my assessment was with Dr Hill, who was a really friendly and open doctor. She looked through my results and asked for more details in a few areas to really build up a comprehensive picture of my overall health and any concerns I had.

Dr Hill was great. She examined me and talked through what to do myself at home in such a straightforward and reassuring way I felt like doing it regularly will be a doddle. And this is really what you get for your money by paying for a health assessment – dedicated time to discuss anything that’s bugging you in a way that feels like you’re not wasting valuable appointments or dwindling NHS resources (which is how I often feel at the GPs). The Bupa team share all their findings with your GP and can write to let them know if there’s something concerning to report. I loved how much of a safety net this gave me.

Once our hour was up, I left feeling reassured and confident about my current health picture and my goals (which I’ll be monitoring via the dedicated Bupa Boost app). By the time I got home, my full report had been emailed through to me, complete with graphs, notes and results. It was all so easy.

You don’t need Bupa insurance in order to have one (although if you do, you get a discount). The Enhance Assessment is one of the most comprehensive assessments offered by Bupa – there are others on offer too, at a range of prices. Now that I’ve experienced it, I’d be more likely to save for regular Bupa health assessments in the future, whether it’s based around a specific health concern or just as an MOT for your body. Prices start at £184, this particular assessment is £658, but I think it’s one worth factoring into the family budget. Once every few years or so seems a really worthwhile investment to me.

Disclosure: This review was written as part of a paid partnership with Bupa. 
As always, my reviews and opinions are honest and reflective of my experience.
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