With one in four people in the UK having a mental health condition of any description, social prescribing has never been so important.
Many things in life can affect your health and wellbeing. GP's tell us that many people visit them feeling isolated, lonely or worried about work, housing and money.
Yet it can sometimes be difficult for local GP’s to help, mainly because of the incredible pressure on their time. The average doctor’s appointment lasts ten minutes which, of course, isn’t long enough. This then puts stress on the NHS, as well as the patients who don’t know where else to turn.
This is where our new Social Prescribing service comes in. At its most basic, social prescribing offers the kind of help that doesn't come in a tube or bottle.
By linking in with hundreds of groups, activities and support networks in local communities we help people to re-define their goals and take greater control over their life. This can include helping with things like managing money, overcoming loneliness or addiction, healthy eating, exercise and so much more.
So how does it work?
Social prescribing is completely led by the participant and our service is open to anyone between 18 and 65. It us funded by the National Community Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.
The first step is to speak to the GP or healthcare professional at the surgery who will refer to Pluss. Then there are four visits with the social prescriber in the space of six months.On the first meeting, a health and wellbeing scale is provided in order to work out exactly what the issues are and in turn, what the solution is. From there, the participant can set their own aims and objectives. This not only gives a goal to work towards, but it gives a sense of achievement and progression when these aims are reached.
From dance or fishing, to craft and cooking, whatever sparks the interest - there will most likely be a community group for it!
A map of the local areas is undergoing construction now too, locating all the different community groups that are available. Instead of waiting to find out where to go next, the answer may well already there (easy as that).
The individual, social prescribers and GP’s remain in contact throughout and it’s about collectively empowering individuals to make the best possible decisions (all singing off the same hymn sheet, so to speak).
So far, all the medical staff have been entirely supportive of the idea ensuring no one is working alone. It’s a combined effort! Furthermore, If the participant is over 18 and out of work, there is the option of being referred to a Positive People change coach, which opens up the door to a gain further skills, training and a career path.
This initiative is currently in action in five surgeries across Falmouth, Penryn and St Austell. We are also looking to expand in to The Rame Peninsula, Callington and The Roseland Peninsula in the near future.
In just over a month, 35 people are already benefiting from the new service, which just proves how necessary this really is!
It’s not just our pasty‐eating, wave‐surfing neck of the woods that’s taken this on either, it’s happening all over the South West now. Just recently, The Eden Project held a Social Prescribing conference, where ideas could flow.
It seems there are no limitations when it comes to Social Prescribing, everyone’s doing something different! It’s an easy‐going and relaxed approach to dealing with mental health that’s purely led by the participant themselves and what they would like to achieve.
Whether it’s about money management, loneliness or addictions (or anything else) there is someone to listen and a signpost pointing the way.
It all just starts with a conversation.
Where are we?
Pluss’ Health and Wellbeing Coaches will work in the following GP practices:
• Falmouth and Penryn - Trescobeas Surgery. Visit www.trescobeas-surgery.co.uk
• St Austell - St Austell Healthcare. Visit www.staustellhealthcare.co.uk/social-prescribing.html
If you would like you find out more, please do not hesitate to contact Sarah Stevens, Partnership Coordinator, at Sarah.Stevens@pluss.org.uk
Social Prescribing is part of the Positive People Programme. It is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund.