Social Prescribing case study: changing circumstances

Every so often, we highlight case studies from our Social Prescribing Link Workers.

Our Link Workers work with GPs across Birmingham and Solihull to provide social and non-medical support for patients. Their role is that of connector: working with people to help them identify their own needs, and then putting them in touch with support services that can help them in the longer term.

Because a Link Worker can spend weeks talking, listening and building a relationship with a patient, they sometimes find that people’s needs go beyond what was disclosed to their GP. This was the case when Link Worker Abeda took on a case referred by a Balsall Heath GP, which mentioned only that the patient needed help with a benefits application.

Changing support for changing circumstances: Yasmin’s story

When Yasmin (not her real name) was referred to the Social Prescribing Link Worker service, she was allocated to Abeda (pictured). Yasmin’s referral, which came from her GP surgery, mentioned that she would like some general advice on benefits, so Abeda gave her a call to find out more.

During their first conversation, Abeda asked Yasmin to tell her as much as possible about her situation, to make sure she could give her all-round support. Often, things come up in these initial chats that might not have been mentioned in the referral – and sometimes, it can help the person just to know they have someone to talk to.

Yasmin, who’s in her 30s, told Abeda that she was having some difficulties with her benefit claims, because there had been some changes in her circumstances.

Until recently, she explained, she had been the sole carer for her mum, who had cancer. Sadly, her mum passed away last year, so Yasmin now lives alone. She also has some physical health problems of her own – issues with her legs that mean she is now unable to work. So, she wanted to make sure she was claiming the correct benefits, and asked Abeda to help her with applications for employment support allowance and universal credit.

They made the claim together, making sure the authorities had all the correct information, and that Yasmin understood all the related evidence that would need to be submitted.

Over the few weeks that Abeda supported Yasmin, she could see that her health was deteriorating, and that she was finding it more and more difficult to care for herself. When Yasmin told Abeda that she had slipped and fallen trying to have a bath, Abeda asked if she would think about getting a carer of her own to help her around the house. She agreed, so together they applied to Occupational Therapy for an assessment, and also looked at local care agencies to see if there was one that might be able to help.

Within a few weeks, she had had an assessment, and together they had found a care service Yasmin was happy with. Now, carers from Sevacare visit her three times a week to help her at home and, depending on the outcome of the Occupational Therapy assessment, she may also be able to get additional support and equipment.

Yasmin has continued to submit sick notes to support her benefits claim, but she is still waiting to hear the results of the application. Because she has less money coming in than before, she’s finding it harder to pay bills, so Abeda helped her to get a discount from Severn Trent, as part of their scheme for people with a low household income.

Abeda hopes that Yasmin’s benefit claim will be accepted soon, but until then she’s continuing to chase it on her behalf, and to support Yasmin while she waits. Yasmin has said she would have been lost without the service, especially during such a difficult time, and tells Abeda she is very grateful for giving her so many options.

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