Stoptober is back! The mass quit event, now in its tenth year, is calling on smokers to join the 2.3 million others who have made a quit attempt with the campaign since its launch. If you make it to 28 days smoke free, you are five times more likely to quit for good.
Over 6 million adults in England still smoke, and it remains the leading cause of premature death, with almost 75,000 preventable deaths a year. A new nationwide survey of 2,000 current smokers released last month has found that nearly half (45%) have been smoking more since the first lockdown began.
If you are a smoker, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health, allowing you to start moving better, breathe more easily and save money. Join the thousands of others and start your quitting journey this October. Just search ‘Stoptober’ for more information and free tools to help you quit.
Free support from the Solihull Stop Smoking Service
Anyone who lives in Solihull, or has a Solihull GP, can get FREE one-to-one help and support from the Solihull Stop Smoking Service (part of the Solihull Lifestyle Service).
Public Health England states that expert support from local stop smoking services gives people the best chance of success. In Solihull, this expert support is provided by NCSCT certified Stop Smoking Practitioners, who offer a one-to-one service. As well as information and access to stop smoking medications, our practitioners provide advice, support and encouragement during regular phone consultations and text messages.
Live in Solihull, or have a Solihull GP? Call 0800 599 9880 or complete the online referral form and start your quit journey today!
More resources for Solihull GPs and other organisations
If you’d like to promote Stoptober at your GP practice, community venue, or place of work, the following co-branded Stoptober / Solihull Lifestyle Service resources are available:
The job of Social Prescribing Link Workers is to listen to what people want and need, and then to direct them to local groups and services that can help them achieve their goals.
Sometimes, those services are also delivered by Gateway!
Glenn is a Social Prescribing Link Worker who works in the North Solihull area. So when she met a patient who needed some help with her physical activity and eating habits, who better to direct her to than the Solihull Lifestyle Service?
Social Prescribing Case Study: Pam
Pam* was referred to the Social Prescribing Link Workers service in January 2021, because her GP felt that she would benefit from someone listening and giving her support.
Link Worker Glenn contacted Pam straight away and they arranged a time to talk over the phone.
The following week, Glenn called Pam and they spoke for quite some time. Pam explained she has a long term health condition, and also suffers from arthritis which causes her a lot of pain. Her follow up appointments at the hospital had been pushed back due to Covid, which was causing her to feel very low. Although Pam lives with her husband, he works during the day and she told Glenn she gets very anxious on her own.
As they chatted, it was clear the pain Pam was enduring really got her down, and this had caused her to stop doing the things she enjoyed. She said her eating habits were poor as she didn’t have an appetite and, although her husband often tried to encourage her to go out for a little walk or sit in the garden, she hadn’t been out of the house for a year.
Glenn told Pam about the Solihull Lifestyle Service, explaining that they could offer her support and advice about diet and exercise, and she agreed to be referred to them. She was allocated a Wellbeing Advisor called April, who would be able to start working with her in a couple of weeks’ time. In the meantime, Glenn and Pam talked about exercises Pam might be able to do. She mentioned that she had a treadmill at home but didn’t use it.
Glenn shared her own experiences of arthritis. She explained how she had forced herself to try and walk each day, and had found this boosted her mental health. Pam said she felt better having someone to talk to and said she would start using her treadmill.
The next time they spoke, Pam had started using the treadmill every couple of days for 15 minutes at a time, and had started eating small, regular meals, thanks to April’s encouragement. However, she told Glenn she wanted to stop taking anti-depressants. Glenn advised her to continue until she spoke to her GP, but also told her about St Germain’s, a service that uses a cognitive behaviour approach to depression and anxiety. Pam said she was willing to give it a go and consented to a referral.
Feeling the benefits
The next time they spoke, there had been a complete turnaround. Pam was eating regular meals and exercising nearly every day. Her GP had lowered her anti-depressant dosage so she could gradually stop taking them. John from St Germain’s had sent information about CBT and exercises for her to follow, and Pam was feeling the benefits already.
In their last conversation, Pam told Glenn that both her husband and son had noticed a difference in her wellbeing. In her own words, she had “stopped feeling sorry for herself”, and said she was even looking forward to doing some gardening!
She told Glenn she would always be grateful for the support she received from all three services.
*Pam’s name has been changed
Hand in hand
As you can see, Gateway’s approach is not about duplicating support, it’s about working hand in hand. Social Prescribing is about listening, finding out what someone needs, and linking them to it. The Solihull Lifestyle advisers are the experts in helping people to eat and exercise healthily.
As well as our own services, we are constantly making new contacts with others, widening our network so that we can direct people to the most suitable local support, and “plugging people in” to their community in the most effective way.
If you run a service in Birmingham or Solihull that would like to take referrals from Link Workers, get in touch to make sure we have your details.
Now it’s the turn of our Solihull team. Glenn is one of four Social Prescribing Link Workers who are based at North Solihull GP practices and, like all our Link Workers, she has been working with patients who have been referred by their GP or other practice staff for social, non-clinical needs. Since Covid hit in March, most of the work has been done via video and phone calls, with occasional visits to foodbanks, shops and pharmacies to help patients out, and the occasional distanced meet-up in parks and open areas.
Glenn told us about “Lorraine” (not her real name), who was referred for general advice and befriending, and explained how she encouraged her to deal with things one step at a time.
“No longer burying her head in the sand”: Lorraine’s story
In June, Lorraine’s* GP referred her to the surgery’s Social Prescribing Link Worker, Glenn, for some extra support. The referral form mentioned that she may potentially need befriending, general advice and signposting (directing her to other organisations and agencies she might not have known about before).
Glenn called Lorraine shortly after receiving the referral. She asked her what had been happening in her life recently, and how she might be able to help.
Lorraine, who’s in her late 60s, told Glenn that she felt her health was suffering because of stress. So they had a long chat about it. Lorraine explained she had recently moved to Solihull from the other side of the city, and didn’t know anyone nearby, but that the main issue on her mind was debt. She told Glenn that this was causing her the biggest worry and was the source of most of her feelings of stress.
Lorraine explained that she had debts with a number of companies, including her own bank, with whom she had gone overdrawn. It had got to the stage where she admitted she now didn’t know where to start sorting it out. She was feeling overwhelmed.
The first thing Glenn did was to give her the details of Step Change, an organisation that would give her free debt advice. Then they wrote everything down to see where they could make a start. Lorraine said she didn’t have the confidence to ring the bank to talk to them about the overdraft, but Glenn gave her the encouragement she needed to make the call.
In fact, the bank were really helpful on the phone, and sent Lorraine an income and outgoings form to fill in. Lorraine and Glenn filled it in together, and this has allowed the bank to give Lorraine a repayment plan that feels positive and achievable.
The next step will be to use this information to fill in some forms for Step Change. Then Glenn will call the other places where Lorraine has debts and tell them that she is working on a budget plan with the organisation. By working methodically and making achievable plans with the help of debt specialists, Lorraine is already starting to feel more in control.
“[Lorraine] definitely feels better now that she has started to sort her debts out,” says Glenn. “She feels like she’s no longer burying her head in the sand.”
Now that Lorraine has tackled her biggest worry, she is starting to think about some of the other things she’d like to improve. She has mentioned that she’d like some help to lose weight and stop smoking, so Glenn has also referred her to the Solihull Lifestyle Service, where she will be able to work with an advisor to make more positive lifestyle changes.
Stoptober is a 28-day stop smoking challenge. The app allows you to:
track your progress
see how much you’re saving
get daily support
If you can make it to 28 days smoke-free, you’re five times more likely to quit for good!
Find your local Stop Smoking service
You are also three times more likely to quit when you get support from a Stop Smoking service, so ask your GP or local pharmacy what’s available locally. A Stop Smoking adviser will be able to give you access to ‘stop smoking’ medications and tell you what strategies and products will work best for you.
In Solihull, the Stop Smoking service is provided by the Solihull Lifestyle Service. Our NCSCT certified Stop Smoking Practitioners will work one-to-one with people to help them through Stoptober and beyond. They’ll provide information and access to medications, as well as advice, support and encouragement during regular phone consultations and text messages.
If you live in Solihull or have a Solihull GP, speak to your GP or call 0800 599 9880 to refer yourself to the Solihull Stop Smoking Service. You can also refer yourself using the Solihull Lifestyle Service referral form.
Resources for Solihull GPs
If you represent a Solihull GP practice and you’d like to promote Stoptober at your surgery, the following co-branded Stoptober / Solihull Lifestyle Service resources are available:
Last week, Public Health England launched a major new adult health campaign to seize the opportunity for a national “reset” moment: Better Health.
For many, the past few months have been a wake-up call, with people realising how precious their health is and recognising that it is time to get back on track. The Better Health campaign has been designed to provide an opportunity for the nation to reset and introduce healthy changes, by bringing together a range of NHS support under the Better Health banner.
The campaign is kicking off by supporting individuals on their weight loss journey.
Lose weight and cut your risk
Nearly two thirds (63%) of adults in the UK are overweight or living with obesity. Gaining weight is often a gradual process that takes place over a number of years and modern life doesn’t always make it easy. But this extra weight causes pressure to build up around vital organs, making it harder for the body to fight against diseases like cancer, heart disease and now COVID-19.
By reducing your weight within a healthy range, you can help cut your risk of being critically ill with COVID-19. To improve health and wellbeing, individuals should aim to have a BMI below 25 and above 18.52. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME) should aim to have a BMI below 23 and above 18.5 to avoid risks to health.
People who live in Solihull (or have a Solihull GP) can access free one-to-one support to lose weight. The Solihull Lifestyle Service is here to help you make positive lifestyle changes – things like cooking and eating more healthily, and becoming more physically active – in a way that suits you.
To start your weight loss journey, call 0800 599 9880, or ask your GP to refer you.
Our team are on standby, ready to help; after an initial assessment, you’ll be allocated to an Advisor to work one-to-one. Your Advisor will help you identify the lifestyle changes you want to make, and then give you all the encouragement, motivation and practical help you need to make them happen.
You’ll also get information about local activities and groups you might be interested in, and a personalised action plan to help you achieve your health and wellbeing goals.
The Patient Health Forum (also known as the South Birmingham Long Term Conditions Group) is a social group for people who live with, or care for people who live with, a range of long term health conditions.
It’s run by a committee of volunteers but the monthly meetings, which usually take place at a community centre in Stirchley, are supported and facilitated by Gateway.
The group has been going for years now and, for many of the Forum members, the monthly meetings are a lifeline: some members live alone, or with the person they care for, and would otherwise rarely get the chance to socialise. The meetings provide a chance to meet friends and other people who are in a similar situation, as well as access to information and advice from local agencies and groups. Plus, of course, the all-important buffet lunch!
So in March, when the meetings had to be suspended, we had to make sure that we could continue supporting the group.
Switching to remote support
In mid-March, when it became obvious that gatherings would need to stop, we contacted all Forum members with the offer of a phonecall in lieu of the regular meetings. At that point, almost all of the members accepted the offer of a monthly wellbeing check or social call.
However, as you probably remember, things escalated quickly at the end of March. A week after offering the monthly calls it became clear that most members would have to isolate because they are over 70 or otherwise vulnerable. So we made the check-ins weekly. Many of the Gateway staff who’ve helped out at Forum meetings know the members quite well, and others were quick to offer befriending support, so we were very happy to do this… but it did mean that we were making weekly calls to more than 50 people.
Over the last two months, some Forum members have opted out of the calls, as they feel they already have enough support from friends, family or neighbours. But we have gladly continued to make weekly calls to the remaining members and, right now, we are continuing to support around 15 people.
What do we talk about?
Most of the calls Gateway staff make to Patient Health Forum members are social, but many are also practical. Amongst other things, we’ve helped people to have their medication delivered, register as vulnerable on the NHS website, find out more about the benefits they are entitled to, get in touch with a chiropodist, and start online shopping.
But sometimes the calls are surprising. We have found that as well as providing support, we are also empowering people, giving them the chance to be helpful to others as well as benefiting themselves. Becky, a support worker who’s been making calls, says: “One woman was fantastic about sharing her local info about food and pharmacy deliveries with me, and I have been able to pass this on to others who have also benefited. She definitely saw herself as contributing to our community knowledge rather than receiving from me.”
Kath, another staff member who’s been making wellbeing calls, pointed out that the crisis itself is also having some unexpected benefits. “Some of the patients told me they had reconnected with friends and family they hadn’t spoken to for a while,” she says. “One lady was pleased she’d actually had a two hour conversation with her daughter, who had previously been too busy to visit or pick up the phone.”
And Forum members have told us how grateful they are for the continued support. Some have told us they’d been feeling a bit forgotten by services, so a chat makes all the difference.
We’re very pleased to be able to help but it’s a worrying time for people who are already socially isolated. It’s not clear yet how the future of groups like the Patient Health Forum might look – but we hope that it won’t be long before we can start safely bringing people together again.
Some more comments from members…
“This call means the world to me. It breaks up my boredom and cheers me up. I enjoy having a natter and a grumble; it stops me from getting depressed, so I look forward to it. I miss the Patient Health Forum; seeing everyone there and the lunches.”
“I’m glad for the call. I don’t have a TV in my house, just a radio, but I’d usually be out meeting my friends. Not being able to chat much to people can get lonely, but this call helps me to speak to someone.”
“This call helps me if I need additional information, or when I am not sure about things like support for my disabled daughter. I’m happy to have a chat and you’ve helped me with your advice on how to keep myself busy doing jigsaws and mandala colouring. I really miss the Patient Health Forum gatherings so thank you for checking up on me weekly, it means a lot.”
“A big thank you to you and Gateway for calling me, especially in these difficult times.”
“It’s really kind of you to check up on me and make sure I am OK. It means a lot that you’re taking the time to ring me up.”
“Great to hear that someone cares; that we are not shut up and put away. I am happy I belong to some clubs including the Patient Health Forum. They are checking up on me which is a really nice thought especially in these difficult times.”
“It means a lot to me when you call. When you don’t see people it’s lovely to get a call out of the blue and have good chat. I have been feeling lonely, and isolating does not help the situation. Thank you, I look forward to next week’s chat.”
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and we thought we’d mark it with a story from one of our Social Prescribing Link Workers, Becky (pictured).
Becky is one of 15 Link Workers employed by Gateway in partnership with SDSmyhealthcare and The North Solihull Collaborative. Each one is attached to a PCN (a group of GP surgeries) and, in ‘normal’ times, would be working from surgeries to provide support to patients at face-to-face appointments. Link Workers are there to help with people’s social, rather than clinical, needs: listening, understanding, and connecting people to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support. Currently, all of their support is done over the phone or via video calls.
Last week, Becky told us about Brian*. We thought that the story, although sad, was a reminder that “support” can be as simple as being there for someone, and noticing if they go quiet. It’s also a really good example of the importance of good relationships between our Link Workers, local community groups, and the patient’s GP.
Brian says Social Prescribers have been a ‘lifeline’
By Becky Cuthbert, Social Prescribing Link Worker
More than six weeks into lockdown, and it’s starting to take its toll. We are all feeling it and so are the patients I’ve been supporting.
I had been phoning one patient, Brian, every other day, but one day I just couldn’t get him to answer. This was a cause for concern because during previous conversations Brian had gone into a lot of detail, sharing his mental health struggles over the years, previous suicidal thoughts, chronic anxiety, drug use, insomnia and what he described as his ‘mental breakdowns’. Why wasn’t he picking up, or messaging me? What if he was relapsing?
I phoned a contact from the local art-based social prescribing group who had referred Brian to Gateway’s Social Prescribing service. She had not been able to get hold of him either and had similar concerns. This confirmed that it was time to get in touch with his GP and ask them to do some follow up.
I’m grateful that, of the various practices I work with, Brian belongs to a surgery where the Practice Manager and GPs understand my role and value Social Prescribing’s contribution to holistic care. I emailed the Practice Manager and the Clinical Lead about the safeguarding concerns I had.
The next day I received a reply letting me know that they’d been able to contact Brian. He had apologised for the lack of contact and shared that he had been retreating into himself more and more, telling the GP that my colleague (from the art project) and I have been ‘lifelines’ for him recently.
Brian has decided that he needs more support for his mental health and the GP is now working that through with him.
This shows our system working and joining up to provide a safety net. Most importantly, Brian knows he is cared for and that he hasn’t been forgotten – and that means a lot for his mental health.
Since then, Brian has texted and had a long call with me. He says, ‘you don’t know what it means that you care and that you notice’.
It is wonderful to contribute to a very caring, human network of care. Brian can see that I work closely with other partners and with his GP, and that we have a high level of trust and a shared vision between us: a ‘community of care’. I believe that our patients can perceive this and it all helps convey the important message, ‘you matter’. We are not claiming that a few phone calls are enough to bring full health and wholeness to Brian’s complex mental health issues, but they could have been enough to prevent deterioration, and been the start of him getting more help. Like he said, it’s a ‘lifeline’.
I often say to people that Social Prescribing is simple really, there’s nothing very big or clever about it. It’s about doing small things, but doing them well. It’s a challenge when working from home, but going forward I know I need to continue to invest in my relationships with all the Practices I work with and to spread the vision of the big impact that Social Prescribing can have.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year, the theme is kindness.
The recent months have seen a heartening number of support schemes popping up all over our region. It’s good to know that when times are tough, our community will step up and find ways to help each other. But did you know that being kind to others can also benefit your own mental health?
It creates a sense of belonging and reduces isolation
It helps keep things in perspective
It helps to make the world a happier place – one act of kindness can often lead to more!
The more you do for others, the more you do for yourself
Here at Gateway, many of our staff have recently had to change, adapt or add new elements to their usual roles. Last month we wrote about the new normal – the many ways in which we have had to change the way we work since the crisis began.
In Birmingham and Solihull, Social Prescribing Link Workers are also delivering prescriptions and food parcels, and making befriending calls, as well as continuing to support their own clients.
But we’re not the only ones! Many of the organisations and businesses we’re now working with were not originally set up to provide emergency support. Like youth organisation B32 Community, which now delivers food parcels; the Station Pub in Kings Heath, which has become a foodbank; and even Sunday League football club the Rubery Misfits, who have swapped kickabouts for community work – and about whom Sam, Asset Development Worker for the Edgbaston NNS, says, “Nothing is too much for them, they travel all across Birmingham, they deliver between working their full time jobs. The food parcels are very generous sized enough to feed a family for a week. The team are friendly, kind and caring family men who are putting a lot of effort into making sure nobody goes without.”
Perhaps surprisingly, many of our staff are finding the challenge of the new support work rewarding in itself.
Paula is a Community Wellbeing Adviser for the Solihull Lifestyle Service. She says, “I am currently helping to collect and deliver prescriptions throughout Solihull, which has given me a much needed focus and routine during these uncertain times. I have also found the deliveries very rewarding as I engage with the public (albeit in a social distancing environment) and see people’s thanks and appreciation at having one less thing to worry about.”
And the acts of kindness that our staff are involved with are, in many cases, creating a ‘virtuous circle’.
Marc, who’s leading the Edgbaston Early Help scheme, says: “There are two food providers I’ve been working with a lot: B32 Community and the Station Foodbank. As they’ve been so good to others in the locality, dropping food parcels to vulnerable people, I wanted to show some kindness back so I made a donation to both. When I shared their donation pages on my social media my brother in law, an ex-Quinton resident, also donated because he was happy to hear that people were being supported back where he used to live.”
Becky, a Social Prescribing Link Worker, has added extra phonecalls to her rota, supporting people from some of Gateway’s other services, including the Patient Health Forum. But she has found that the support she is giving people is often just the beginning – the people she speaks to get a lot out of sharing their experiences and helping others themselves. Becky says, “One woman was fantastic about sharing her local knowledge about food and pharmacy deliveries with me and I then passed this on to others who have benefited. Another chap said, ‘I hope I can help you one day’. He may not be able to help me personally but I have a feeling he will ‘pay it forward’ and help others in the future.”
Don’t forget to be kind to yourself
Whilst it’s lovely to hear stories of kindness from others, we should add that it’s also important to be kind to yourself.
Sadaf, also a Social Prescribing Link Worker, said, “Whilst working with patients its often clear that there is a sense of low self esteem, feelings of not being good enough and often blaming themselves for certain situations. I would like to highlight that perhaps if people were kinder to themselves it would reduce anxiety and a variety of other issues.”
And the Mental Health Foundation agrees.
“Whatever you can manage today is good enough. Some people feel that the lockdown is giving them the time and chance to learn new skills or try new things. That may be you, and if so, enjoy and celebrate that. If this isn’t you, try not to beat yourself up about what you see others doing. If things are hard right now, try and find some small things to celebrate each day. Getting up and washing your hair can be just as much of an achievement as someone else posting about a 5k run on Instagram. Try to tune out the voice of judgement and comparison and tune in to the voice that says you are enough.”
Despite the lockdown, the Solihull Lifestyle Service is still very much up and running. Our team is continuing to support people from across the borough and to provide all levels of support, whether that’s over the phone or via video calls.
Lifestyle support for Solihull clients is based on behaviour change, and that’s because it’s the best way to help people make sustainable, lifelong changes that they can manage themselves. For example, although most people are referred because they want to lose weight, it’s often not as simple as “eat less, exercise more”. Habits can be really tough to break.
But our team are experts at helping people to re-think their habits and overcome negative thinking.
Kavita (on the right in the picture) is our Senior Behaviour Change Advisor.
With a Masters (soon to be Doctorate) in Health Psychology, she supports the clients who need a little extra help to tackle lifestyle changes and to start living a happier, healthier life.
One of the people Kavita is supporting at the moment is Nina (not her real name), who was referred by her GP. Read on to find out how Behaviour Change support is about so much more than weight management – and how Nina is learning to make changes that will last a lifetime.
After trying to lose weight herself more than five times in the last year, Nina* – who is in her 20s – was struggling to know what to do next. After speaking to her doctor about it, he suggested the Solihull Lifestyle Service.
When he referred her to us, Nina’s GP told us that his main concerns for Nina were her low physical activity and low feelings of wellbeing and mood. But he also pointed out that her BMI was also at 26, which put her in the “overweight” category, and she has a high risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, since both of these run in her family.
We assigned Nina to our Senior Behaviour Change Adviser, Kavita, and they met for a one-to-one session so Kavita could assess the key problems she was experiencing.
It was clear Nina was struggling to manage her weight and wanted some support to change this, but they also talked about her lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. Nina explained how she has experienced these negative feelings about herself from a young age and now, as an adult, they were holding her back from doing what she really wants to do. Although she was feeling very motivated to lose weight and take more exercise – not least because she was getting married soon – she was struggling to actually make the changes.
Kavita wanted to help her get to the bottom of things.
One of the main things that came across in their first meeting was the way that Nina’s work as a nurse often cause her to experience bouts of anxiety and low mood. Together, Kavita and Nina decided to focus on this first, as this was causing her the most distress, with her mood and self-esteem lowered almost daily. Although she lives with her partner, Nina didn’t feel she could talk to him about what she was experiencing, and she has no family in the UK, so chances to talk about her feelings were rare.
Kavita gave Nina a Thoughts and Feelings diary with the instruction to complete this only when she was engaging in negative behaviours – whether or not these were related to diet and activity. The idea was that this should start to increase Nina’s awareness of what she was thinking and feeling every day, especially at work, and the impact this may have been having on her mood and self-esteem.
Breaking down the problems
Nina and Kavita have now had six sessions together and during every session, Nina tells Kavita about any new or emerging negative thoughts. Together, they break down the problem and discuss possible solutions, techniques or strategies that could help to minimise or overcome the problem, both in the short and long term.
Right now, the support sessions are having to be held over the phone, but it’s working well and Nina is keen to continue. She’s still writing in the Thoughts and Feelings diary, and finds that identifying and expressing her anxieties with work this way is helping her. Kavita helps her to identify the negative beliefs she has around a situation then, together, they challenge these and talk about replacing the anxiety with a positive prediction. “What if…?”
Nina tells Kavita she’s already feeling better and more positive, day to day. By trying to minimise the negative anxieties at work, which are influencing her general mood, it is hoped that Nina’s overall quality of life will improve, and she will find it easier to make the broader lifestyle changes she really wants to make.
How to refer into the service
The Solihull Lifestyle Service offers a range of tailored health and wellbeing advice and support to help people make positive lifestyle changes. Despite the lockdown, we are continuing to support people from across the borough and to provide all levels of support, whether that’s over the phone or via video calls.
If you live in Solihull, or have a Solihull GP, call 0800 599 9880 and ask about signing up — or complete an online referral form.
Healthy Futures was a social prescribing service that we funded ourselves and this was a typical client story, showing just how much a Social Prescribing was needed in Birmingham. However, although Healthy Futures was highly successful from a healthcare perspective — supporting over 200 people with tailored non-medical support, and saving time and money for local GPs — eventually, a lack of external financial support made it unsustainable.
Since last year’s Social Prescribing Day, though, we’re pleased to say that things have changed considerably.
This year, the concept of Social Prescribing is much more widely known and understood.
NHS England have rolled out Social Prescribing services nationally, funding PCNs (Primary Care Networks, which are groups of GP practices) across the country to offer a model that is very similar to Healthy Futures. Many GPs, practice staff and other primary care providers can now refer patients to a Link Worker, who works one-to-one with the patient to offer direct support and signposting.
Now, people in Birmingham like Alia will be able to once again access support from a trusted para-professional, trained to support people with all sorts of social, non-clinical needs. Gateway is working in partnership with SDSmyhealthcare to deliver a Social Prescribing Link Worker service to 11 PCNs across Birmingham and Solihull, and our new Link Workers are already settling into their surgeries.
Each Social Prescribing Link Worker works from a number of different surgeries throughout the week, offering patients one-to-one, person-centred support.
GPs and Practice staff can refer anyone who needs non-medical help, and the Link Worker will work with that person to help them take control of their own health and wellbeing and increase their active involvement with their local community.
People with social rather than medical needs
People needing help to access or navigate services
People experiencing social isolation or poor mental health
People with issues relating to advice, housing or income
“Sure, we can walk with you through a door – but ultimately it is your door.”
Zeshaan is one of Gateway’s new Social Prescribing Link Workers. He works with GP practices in the NSAR Primary Care Network, covering Nechells, Saltley and Alum Rock. Find out more about his role, and how he feels about social prescribing, in this short video.