Social prescribing pilot sees 1200 referrals as it continues to go from strength to strength
International Social Prescribing day takes place this week (14/3) and to mark this locally, GP practices across the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) are celebrating their Social Prescribing team achievements to date.
Since the launch of the Social Prescribing pilot locally in 2017, the service has been rolled out to 20 GP Practices with over 1200 patients being referred. The pilot connects people with organisations and services which can support them with their social, emotional or practical needs.
Across the Royal Borough social prescribing is available to patients registered at one of the GP practices in the area, are aged 18 and over, and are a carer or those who are at risk of falls or classed as frail.
Alan Mackay, Practice Manager at The Cedar’s Surgery, in Maidenhead, said: “The 4 Wellbeing Prescribers; Katie, Hollie, Patrycja and Ryan, employed by East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, provide a holistic service to support, motivate and empower patients to find solutions which can improve their health and wellbeing.
“They work closely with GPs and other healthcare professionals who refer patients into the service. The Wellbeing Prescriber will then contact patients either by phone, face to face or by email. Depending on individual needs, the support process can take up to 12 weeks in which time discussions take place and appropriate signposting is provided.
He added: “To date, the pilot has been a real success, giving patients a lifeline to a life they thought was out of reach, improving their health and reducing their dependence on medical care.”
Dr Edward Williams, GP at Ascot Medical Centre, said: “The main benefits of social prescribing are that it creates a connection between primary care, social care and community and voluntary services.
“Social Prescribing is unleashing the power of the community and is raising awareness, access and signposting into resources and services that might not be being used to their full potential.
“Some of the patients we see are lonely, isolated, stressed by factors such as housing, work and money. These are issues that can’t be fixed by GPs or other healthcare professionals and medicine alone.
He continued: “As well as working with patients, the Wellbeing Prescribers are working closely with local authority services, community and voluntary colleagues from over 70 organisations, signposting patients onto local support, advice, clubs, activities and much more.”
Patient feedback echos the sentiments of Dr Williams. Here are some examples of this:
“Anyone thinking of having a social prescription would have my backing! The future now looks positive”
“I’ve found it’s as if all the doors are open for me, but it’s me who has to walk through them. I’ve got some ray of hope of living; it’s like a lifeline for me these groups.”
“Attending the different groups has given me the tools to manage situations more positivity and reduce my own anxieties and stress”
“Through Social Prescribing I have been able to access SIGNAL for carers who have told me to call them when I need to. I have called them when I have needed them on occasion and found their support very useful which has enable me to continue with my caring role”
“I was having panic attacks and struggling with having to access Citizens advice myself and the next thing I knew I received a phone call from the Wellbeing Prescriber who took the time to listen to me and understand me. Citizens Advice have been great they have given me advice and support to engage with my previous employer to resolve my issues with them”
Christine O’Hare, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice Maidenhead and Windsor: “We are working very effectively with the Social Prescribing team. The Wellbeing Prescribers regularly refer elderly residents and residents with complex physical health needs. The majority of the residents referred are housebound and require a home visit.
“By working in partnership with the Social Prescribing team we are able to help isolated residents much earlier to access benefits and financial help for they can get the care and support packages they need. Without prompt referrals from the Wellbeing Prescribers these residents are a risk of spiralling into a decline. The service helps residents to live independently for longer, hence avoiding residential home placements and/or emergency admissions into hospital. The example below illustrates the difference the service can make.”
If you would like to be referred to the Social Prescribing service, please call your local GP practice.