As an organisation, we have always aimed to establish channels that could support patients beyond their immediate clinical needs. We’re hugely invested in understanding the wider determinants of health and exploring how we can empower people to live better and healthier lives.
Personalised care plays a large role in this. As part of the NHS’s Long Term Plan, it provides patients with greater choice and control over the way their care is planned and delivered and is based on ‘what matters’ to them as well as their individual strengths and needs.
We see Social Prescribing as a vital component in the delivery of personalised care and in the past three years we’ve seen this service evolve immeasurably.
We introduced our first Social Prescriber in 2019 and since then the service has grown to a team of more than 20. Among the latest additions is a dedicated team for families and Children and Young People, who often work with partners to help bridge the gap for children awaiting CAMHS appointments following a referral.
But the service has not just grown, it has developed and matured too. What began as a reactive service that was delivered one-to-one following a clinician referral, has now become more responsive to population needs and often targeted to specific groups.
Among the latest projects are:
- Bereaved Mens Group in response to social isolation and bereavement from the pandemic. This is a peer support group that meets once a month.
- A PCN Coffee Morning in response to social isolation and reports from patients about anxiety following the pandemic.
- Offering improved information for dementia patients and their families post diagnoses. Patients and carers are contacted as required and receive a leaflet with all the information/services both locally and nationally.
- An initiative aimed at tackling neighbourhood health inequalities, by focusing on young families. The aim is to ensure families are aware, and make best use, of all the health and support service that are accessible to them.
- Offering wider wellbeing support offer to refugees and asylum seekers in hotels around the area. This has included personal training in hotels as well as planned trips to Crawley Football Club.
- Drop in cost-of-living information event for our patients in partnership with a number of community partners.
- A collaboration with Sussex National Trust’s Nymans has created a pilot scheme that allows the patients to meet at the site for social prescribing purposes at no charge.
- A continued collaboration with the Garden Army.
- An “Active Practices” programme that encourages patients and staff to be more active each day.
In a system where clinicians face so many pressures, patient access to these additional resources is even more important. Our Social Prescribers have the time and the skillset to support Primary Care and help patients to flourish and, in turn, experience better health.
We’re extremely proud of the network of incredible Social Prescribers who continue to make a difference to the lives of our patients and today seems the most appropriate day for us to say, thank you.
But what matters more than our words are the words of our patients. Here is the feedback from one of our patients who has been supported by the Social Prescribing service:
Patient, Social Prescribing Service
“I feel very fortunate that I was recommended for this service especially as I had never heard of it before. I look forward to my appointments as a time when I can ask for advice, get inspiration, help and generally able to let go of my worries and concerns. I am so grateful to my doctor and the Care Coordinator for putting me forward for this very valuable service.”
Patient, Social Prescribing Service
“Since the moment I was introduced to the social prescriber over the phone, it felt like I was talking to a friend – someone that I already knew, a warm, kind, patient and attentive person with my interests and health at heart. Albeit only a few phone calls, I felt overwhelmed with the bond that we created. Considering the tragic and upsetting circumstances that led me to get a social prescriber and counsellor – somehow my conversations with her transpired to more than just support for my mum and the trauma that I was feeling.
We ended up talking about everything in between which has allowed me to understand the big picture of me and all that I am – we have laughed, shed a tear and chatted for a number of hours collectively and my experience with her will be something I won’t forget.
She was unbelievably attentive – listening to every word that I said, whilst also offering me support and concepts that provided clarity and closure of my behaviours and emotions. I am forever grateful and appreciative of the time she offered me, her thoughts throughout our conversations have been written in a journal that I now write and they are words I consistently refer back to, as they were so personal to me.
She opened my eyes to counselling and was the friend I needed to prepare me and open my mind to others interventions. I feel incredibly lucky to have been connected to her.”