Since Action Together’s Community Wellbeing team launched social prescribing in Tameside in February 2018, it has actively supported 503 people to improve their wellbeing.
The social prescribing programme links local people with long term health conditions to non-medical support to improve their wellbeing. For these people, medical support alone is not making the impact needed to improve their daily lives. Any health or social care professional can refer someone into the service easily using an online platform. Social prescribing officers will then link an individual to activities and services provided by voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise groups, these help people develop their confidence, build social connections and take part in activities that improve their overall wellbeing.
Kirsty Fisher, Action Together’s Social Prescribing Programme Manager, commented: “Using our knowledge of local voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise groups, our goal is for people to reconnect with communities, rediscover their strengths and feel better able to manage their health and wellbeing, ultimately resulting in improved quality of life for the individual while also reducing the impact on traditional health and care services.”
A social prescribing client commented on the service: “Thank you for the commitment the service has provided to me. Bernie was a lovely warm lady, who gave me hope when I was at a very low ebb. She tried to encourage me to take up some new goals to help me in my wellbeing. Bernie was able to put me in touch with people who could give me practical help in the caring of my wife, for which I will be eternally grateful.”
A healthcare professional who had referred a patient to social prescribing gave the following feedback: “I wanted to thank you for the support you have offered X. I saw her yesterday and she updated me on her visits to the farm. It was exactly what she needed to test out how far she has come in the last 12 months and will really help her with her confidence in herself.”
Action Together launched Elemental, a referral software and caseload management database in September 2018 to enable GPs across Tameside to refer directly into Action Together’s Social Prescribing Programme from their system. It also allows GP’s to easily see what new groups and activities their patient has been connected to by social prescribing. This has increased GP referrals from 40 per cent to 60 per cent of the total referrals to the service and further strengthen the positive working relationship Action Together has built with Primary Care in Tameside.
Fisher, added: “Our social prescribers have time to listen to people and support them to focus on their strengths and rediscover their interests. The individual then takes the lead, setting some wellbeing goals, which could be anything from building confidence to attend a local social group, to volunteering, to working with our community development team to set up a new peer support group.”
Action Together’s social Prescribing service sits alongside a programme of community development and voluntary sector investment. The investment programme is open for applications and information can be found on the Action Together website. The community develop team and the investment programme help to ensure that there is a robust and thriving voluntary sector to meet the needs of social prescribing.
Another social prescribing client commented on the service: “My social prescriber has been great and made me see that there’s something out there that I could do to help people, even if it’s just for a few hours.
“I have achieved something that I’ve wanted to do for years, but that was because Sue helped me do that. I am very grateful to Sue, she has never made me feel silly when I’ve told her my fears of going out and doing things. She’s always encouraged and supported me. I found it hard that I was even contemplating swimming, so you can imagine how I felt when I was actually in the pool! Sue helped me so much with that. Thank you for providing the service.”
The Integrated Care Foundation Trust (ICFT) used some of the funding it received from the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Transformation funding (part of the GM Devolution agreement) to procure Action Together’s social prescribing.