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Gateway Healthy Futures: making a difference

3rd June 2016

The Gateway Healthy Futures service helps patients who need social support, and we’re keen to take more referrals from GPs to show the benefits of this pilot work.

What is Gateway Healthy Futures?

Gateway Healthy Futures is here to support people with a broad range of social needs. GPs can refer anyone that needs non-medical help, so that includes people who have issues around housing, alcohol, finances, benefits, social isolation, and much more.

Our Practice Navigators support people from the age of 18 upwards, working alongside other services and organisations across the city to provide patients with one-to-one tailored support.

Whether someone just needs a cup of tea and a friendly chat to get through the day, or whether they have complex needs that will require a range of specialist help, Gateway Healthy Futures provides a one-stop-shop into which GPs can refer patients for a range of support.

As part of the Gateway family, our Practice Navigators are skilled para-professionals with a huge network at their fingertips – so if they can’t help, they will know someone who can.

Gateway Healthy Futures was designed, and is being piloted, in partnership with MyHealthcare. To find out more, or to refer patients into the service, GPs and Practice Managers should call 0121 456 7820 and ask for Gateway Healthy Futures.

Read on to find out how the service helped Diane who, without the support of a Practice Navigator, might otherwise have fallen through the net.

Diane’s story

Diane’s GP referred her into the Gateway Healthy Futures service in October last year and she was assigned to Judith, a Practice Navigator.

DianeAt their first meeting Judith and Diane discussed how Diane’s ill health and learning difficulties have knock-on effects for her everyday life. For example, cooking is hard work: she can’t stand for long, finds it hard to grip a knife, and sometimes forgets when things are in the oven.

She finds using the telephone really stressful and struggles with reading due to her dyslexia, so she finds it difficult to manage her paperwork, including bills. She told Judith she was concerned about money, and would like more people to talk to.

The little things

Diane was anxious, lonely and at risk, but it was clear that some help with the little things could set her on the road to a happier, more independent lifestyle.

One of the first things Judith did was to phone the DWP on Diane’s behalf to begin the process of claiming for PIP (Personal Independence Payments; the successor to Disability Living Allowance) in order to help ease Diane’s financial pressures. Diane had also heard about a class she wanted to attend, so they worked out which buses she could take to get there. And they talked about ways in which she could save money, perhaps by changing energy suppliers.

Judith helped Diane set up a filing system, and phoned banks and utility companies to set up new arrangements. She helped her to fill in the application forms for PIP, and then to understand the many letters she received relating to the application.

Financial hardship

We often find that it takes some time before the people we work with feel able to be completely honest about financial hardship and, indeed, it was a couple of months before Judith found out just how little Diane was living on. She was going days without food and had stopped going out because she couldn’t afford bus fare. PIP money would give her a lifeline.

However, after being assessed in December, Diane’s PIP application was declined.

Judith was able to give Diane emergency help over Christmas by giving her bus money from our Hardship Fund, and food parcels from our food bank, including a Christmas hamper, but it was obvious that she would need a longer term solution. With Diane’s need for it increasing all the time, Judith stepped up the pressure to approve the PIP payment.

She got in touch with other services in Birmingham for advice, and wrote a letter to the DWP asking them to reconsider Diane’s circumstances, giving them some extra information that hadn’t come to light as part of the application process and assessment. However, the application was refused a second and third time.

A positive outcome

Finally, Diane’s appeal for PIP went to court.

With the help of an adviser from Freshwinds, Judith and Diane gathered as much evidence as they could to support Diane’s appeal. In May, some four months after Judith’s first phonecall to the DWP, Diane attended a tribunal, accompanied by Judith, and was awarded a “daily living” payment at the standard rate.

Diane’s support from Judith has now ended, but she will still see a Gateway Befriender every now and again to carry on with some phased-down support. Thanks to Judith pushing for a positive outcome, she can now afford food and bus fare, so she’s started going regularly to classes and clubs, where she meets people for coffee and the occasional dance. Her paperwork still causes her some anxiety, but she is much more organised and feels much more able to cope with everyday life.

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