Celebrating Social Prescribing week 2022!
My name is Kate Francis, and I am the Wellbeing Services Lead for Primary Care Cheshire’s Wellbeing Team. I spend time supporting patients from my practice bases which are Helsby, Elton and Frodsham, and I also dedicate time to supporting my team with their caseloads and any issues that they face daily. It is a very interesting, rewarding and busy role and it involves a lot of community connection. We work to link in with services and to gain local knowledge, and we develop strong relationships with referral partners.
Our team supports a network of 30 GP Practices across West Cheshire that covers circa. 250,000 patients. The Wellbeing Service is dedicated to supporting patients with non-medical needs that could be creating or exacerbating health problems. Our only stipulations are that patients must be over 18yrs of age, and they need to have an existing medical condition. Patients can be referred via their GP, or they can self-refer at their surgery. We take a flexible approach to suit our patients, we can see them at the surgery, visit their homes or we can speak on the phone.
Social prescribing provides people with choice and control over their lives. It offers the chance to dissect and understand problems, and then it gives the opportunity to seek solutions.
The last few years have been exceptionally difficult for everyone. Loneliness and isolation have been at an all time high.
Here is a real-life example of how we have supported a patient that has been particularly affected by this –
Mrs A is in her 80’s and was strictly isolating during the pandemic as she has a heart condition. She lives alone and the only person that she saw each week during lockdowns was her supermarket delivery driver. Her husband died several years ago and her family live far away. When the restrictions were lifted, Mrs M realised that she had lost all her confidence and was still afraid to go out. She had forgotten how to talk to people. She reached out to her GP as she was feeling very depressed, who then referred her to the Wellbeing Service. Mrs A was tearful and wary at her first consultation. She had lost trust due to being scammed by a roofer who took money for a job that wasn’t needed. Mrs A is hard of hearing and even phone conversations had been a trial for a long time. Her house is isolated, and neighbours keep themselves to themselves. Prior to covid, Mrs A had tried to be as active as possible but had lost touch with friends and acquaintances. We were able to visit Mrs A at her home which made a big difference after so long without face-to-face contact, she is an excellent lip-reader, so it was a huge relief to be able to communicate effectively. We discussed difficulties with the phone and concerns over safety and security. Mrs A decided to get herself a special amplified phone suitable for people who are deaf. She also decided that a personal alarm would be beneficial should she have any accident or need to call for help. We also got Mrs A signed up to some local balance classes so that she can feel more comfortable and confident with moving around. We were a listening ear for her concerns about family and problems with her property. With Mrs A’s consent, we contacted a local service that offers local activity and lunch clubs for older people that she used to enjoy but had lost touch with. She has now re-connected with old friends and is attending weekly. Mrs A has also joined her local U3a club, and she has consented to a referral to a local befriending service so that she can make a new regular connection and enjoy a good chat every week. We also referred Mrs A to a service that provides 1-2-1 support for older people to access technology. She has an iPad and now hopes to be able to go online with confidence. Lastly for now, we have supported Mrs A with ways to find local reputable tradespeople so that she can feel less afraid of being scammed again. We have now signed Mrs A off from the Wellbeing Service as she is much happier and more confident. She is regularly out and about, has a wider circle of friends and she now has the confidence to reach out for help if she needs it. Mrs A has explained that thanks to our support she has been ‘much kinder to herself’. She is now looking into downsizing to a property that is closer to amenities and easier to maintain. The great thing about our service is that patients can refer again any time if circumstances change. As it stands, Mrs A has needed much less input from her GP since benefiting from the Wellbeing service.
Hopefully this case study demonstrates just how vital our service is and how our personalised approach adapts to individual circumstances.
A big shout out to my wonderful team who work tirelessly every day to support people like Mrs A. Happy Social Prescribing week!