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1st November 2019
If you go down to the Doc’s today…you may get quite a surprise! Instead of clutching a slip of paper to take to the pharmacy when you leave, you may be offered something very different – and possibly more useful: a social prescription.
Social prescribing is a response to increasing awareness that health and wellbeing require a holistic approach, and that practical and emotional support are sometimes more important than medication.
Primary Care Networks are now introducing this initiative across Northamptonshire, and have attached 11 ‘Link Workers’ to clusters of GP practices within the county – including Burton Latimer Medical Centre. The GP practices then work together with other health professionals, community and voluntary agencies to provide local services for residents.
By being based in surgeries, Link Workers enjoy a close working relationship with local GPs. They spend time with individual patients, find out what they need, and then connect them with the appropriate voluntary and statutory services, community groups, local support networks and clubs. If necessary, that may involve helping people to start new groups, working collaboratively with all local partners.
For instance, Cotswold District Council’s social prescribing scheme enables people to be referred on to a range of activities and services – including befriending schemes, singing groups, exercise classes and walking groups.
For those who are housebound, Link Workers visit them at home, and will also accompany patients along to their first activity if needed. They then follow patients up to make sure the ‘prescription’ is working.
How can social prescribing help residents?
Time to talk about what really matters to you
Together look at ways of achieving this
Having somebody with you to take that first step
How does social prescribing benefit the community?
Builds on the community’s existing strengths
Shares what has worked in other areas, and links communities together
Creates a more resilient community that works together with its residents
In the Cotswold scheme, more than 200 people have been helped during the last two years for issues ranging from bereavement and caring responsibilities to isolation and loneliness.
An evaluation last year based on questionnaires found that on average patients reported a 22% increase in wellbeing, while GPs recorded a 9% drop in appointments among those given a social prescription.
Sam Tallant has recently been appointed as a Social Prescribing Link Worker in North Northamptonshire, covering three GP practices. She spends all day Mondays and Thursday afternoons at Burton Latimer Medical Centre.
Commenting on her new role, Sam said, “I live in Burton Latimer and it has a wonderful community spirit. I have noticed gaps in community support, and residents have to travel to Kettering and beyond – which is not always easy, or possible. I am pleased to have the opportunity to work together to create a town which supports even more residents.”
Before taking up this post, Sam was part of a successful pilot for a very similar role, which secured further funding. She has also worked within the voluntary sector and local council alongside people with support needs, and as a teacher within adult learning.
Sam is very keen to hear people’s views on what they would like to see in Burton Latimer in terms of activities, support groups, or other ways that residents can connect with one another. In particular, she would like to hear what works well, how things could be better – and where are the gaps?
Patients registered with Burton Latimer Health Centre can book an appointment with Sam at the reception desk, phone her on 01536 720986 or contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask at your GP surgery about social prescribing.