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14/03/19

Social prescriptions are just the tonic this International Social Prescribing Day

Local commissioners have released figures this International Social Prescribing Day (14 March 2019) that show that over 1800 people have benefited from ‘social prescriptions’ offered as part of the Community Connectors scheme across Bradford District.

The social prescribing scheme was launched as a pilot in 2017 across 26 GP practices by NHS Bradford City and NHS Bradford Districts CCGs (clinical commissioning groups). In just its first seven months of operation, Community Connectors saw over 700 people referred by GP practices in the city. 74% of people who used the scheme reported improvements in their connections to local communities, their social relationship and their mental wellbeing and the success of the scheme saw it rolled out in 2018 to all 60 GP practices in the district.

Under the free service, healthcare professionals and GPs refer patients to a team of Community Connectors who work with them to find local support that meets their needs. This could be help with sorting out their benefits, getting support with housing or seeking debt advice, or it could be tackling loneliness and social isolation by joining classes for healthy cooking, dance, gardening or walking clubs.

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(PRNo.15CD) Lisa KilkennyLisa Kilkenny was busy and active when she had a stroke at 41 that affected her right side and left her with aphasia, which meant she lost her speech. Lisa felt isolated and found everyday tasks difficult, which affected her confidence and her mood.

Lisa was referred into the Community Connectors service by her local GP. Community Connector Rona worked with Lisa to understand her needs and ensure she received the support she needed. Lisa was referred for speech and language therapy as well as support from an occupational therapist. Useful aids were installed in her home, such as grab rails and a bath board to help her regain her independence around the house.

Picture: Lisa Kilkenny with her new bus pass arranged with the help of the Community Connectors scheme

The team provided details of stroke support groups including a project that provides art as therapy and these opportunities allowed Lisa to meet new people and make new friends.

Lisa now has a disabled person’s bus pass which allows her to get around more freely as well as a text message service set-up with her local taxi firm and a laminated card to make visits to the hairdressers and beauty salon easier.

Lisa said: “I am a busy grandma and I am fiercely independent, so the impact of my stroke was quite difficult as my life changed considerably.

“Through working with Rona I now have access to a broader group of friends and my home is easier to get around for me. Having my bus pass and a quick and easy way to book a taxi means I can get out and about whenever I want and I’m getting used to having a notebook handy for times when I need to communicate with people who don’t know what I need.

“Before I was referred to the Community Connector scheme I was unsure of what services were available to support me at home. Rona, my Community Connector, was able to assist me with making appointments and accompanying me to them. Thank you for linking me with additional services I am now happy and confident and see a positive future. 

“I would urge anyone who needs some extra support to speak to their GP about being referred into the service. I didn’t know just how much support was out there and by working with a Community Connector I’ve been able to access the right help for me.”

Social prescribing across Bradford is delivered by HALE (Health Action Local Engagement) in partnership with Thornbury Centre, Healthy Lifestyles and Equality Together and funded jointly by the CCGs and Bradford Council.

People who are referred to Community Connectors can arrange to meet their connector either at home or somewhere else they’re comfortable with. The connector then meets with the person up to six times, either on a one-to-one basis or accompanying them to the services identified between them of helping that individual to improve their health, fitness and wellbeing.

Dr Taz Aldawoud, GP and clinical board member at the CCGs said: “I’m delighted to hear how the Community Connectors service has helped Lisa.

“The scheme helps us to access support within a patient’s local community in a much easier, more coordinated way that can then become part of a patient’s overall care. It gives primary care staff such as GPs, practice nurses and other healthcare professionals one single point of referral where someone can get help with non-medical issues and go on to enjoy an improved quality of life.

“Often as a GP people feel more able to share their troubles and worries, and patients often tell us that feeling lonely or isolated is having a really negative impact on their health. I’m particularly happy to hear that Lisa has had the opportunity to make new friends and that the scheme has helped her to once again enjoy her independence as a valued member of her local community.”

Samantha Monk , HALE’s Community Connector project coordinator said: “Our work with GPs and their colleagues means we can support patients on a one-to-one level, offering them a completely dedicated service. We are pleased to be working with our partners at Equality Together, Healthy Lifestyle Solutions and the Thornbury Centre as well as developing and expanding the network of support for patients with organisations throughout the district.”

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