Should I call the Doctor, or a friend?
Posted on: 28 November 2017
We know what the word ‘social’ means. We think we know what ‘prescribing’ means. But do we know what ‘Social Prescribing’ is?
Here’s a quick run through of what it is, and why all of us should care.
It’s based around the fact, and it is a fact, that thousands of people each year visit their GP about socially based, rather than medical problems. About 40 percent social, 60 percent medical.
Socially based problems are very real and important to the person because they may be impeding their quality of life and personal wellbeing. That’s true, and mustn’t be underestimated.
But they’re not medical problems requiring medical solutions.
They’re problems and barriers preventing them from living as full and worthwhile lives as possible. And the solutions are often found in their own communities, in local groups and local services.
So what does social prescribing do?
In Exeter, GP practices have been referring patients that they believe would benefit from increased social activity to a trusted ‘Community Connector’. They work with the patient to identify what the root of their problem is, understand what matters to them, and plan a way forward together, more often introducing the person to activities and organisations in their own neighbourhoods. That’s social prescribing.
..and we’re pretty good at it
Devon’s ahead of the curve on social prescribing. We’ve just won a national and prestigious award for a project in Exeter, called Integrated Care Exeter, (ICE), which is all about social prescribing.
There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes, by the partner organisations and others, to encourage and help communities to develop their…community’ness.
A resilient community is one in which its residents, businesses, charities, community groups, schools, churches, post offices – any number of the elements that make up a community – work together in a public-minded, mutually supportive way.
In that respect, social prescribing’s not a new concept at all. It harks back to a day when people relied on the doctor solely for medical complaints, and they had the support of friends, family, neighbours, their community, to call on for other things.
How social prescribing is helping
One person who has benefited from the ICE programme, said: “I came in for pain killers and I am leaving with hope!”
Another said: “The help and support I have received over the last few months has exceed my expectations. As a result of this I now feel much less isolated that I as feeling when I was referred.”
Anette, one of the Community Connectors in Exeter, said:
“I meet clients daily and it’s wonderful to be able to help people on their various journeys. This can be anything from breaking social isolation to help with job opportunities, or supporting the clients to get registered for council housing. Other common areas clients want support with is alcohol abuse and healthy lifestyle advice.”
Dr Phil Norrey, Devon County Council’s Chief Executive, and former Chairman of the ICE Board, said:
“This has always been a forward-looking project, which puts people’s independence, health and wellbeing at its core.
“It shows what can be achieved when health and social care, voluntary sector organisations, community groups and individuals, who all have a part to play in helping people live well, work together.
“If anything demonstrates that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’, it’s the ICE project, and I’m delighted that it has been awarded this national accolade.”
Posted in: Health and Wellbeing