Managing A Social Prescribing Pilot In The North Cotswolds

by Jane van Velsen

We have been appointed to manage a 12 month pilot for social prescribing co-ordinators in a five North Cotswolds GP surgeries!

With the government’s remit on health being placed on population health and seeking local change and improvement from within localities, social prescribing is designed to offer non-medical or preventative solutions for GP-referred patients.

Funding for the year-long pilot has come from the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund and Cotswold Friends has been chosen by the Clinical Commissioning Group to manage the project in the north Cotswolds.

This pilot will underpin many of the services we have already been offering in the Cotswolds and parts of West Oxfordshire for many years such as our carer respite, befriending and community transport services, said Kirsty Holder, of Cotswold Friends.

Each co-ordinator will work with the patient to look at non-medical solutions to problems that can reduce physical and mental ill health and improve wellbeing and social inclusion in the community.

Funding is based on the patient numbers within the surgeries. Each surgery will have the co-ordinator based within their surgery for one morning or afternoon each week. Patients will be referred by medical staff within the practice for an appointment with the co-ordinator.

Appointments will be up to 45 minutes compared to medical appointments of 10 minutes. This will allow the patient time to go through their problems without feeling rushed. At the initial appointment, patients will be asked to complete a short questionnaire.

The co-ordinators will look for non-medical solutions to problems such as heating and insulation for someone who has been visiting the GP due to damp causing breathing problems, patients diagnosed with depression due to isolation will be encouraged to participate in more social activities and helped to find groups to attend, befriending or exercise activities. Patients who are not eating a balanced diet can be given details of lunch clubs, cookery classes and shown how to find healthy recipes online.

Carers can be given an introduction to a carers group, memory club or café and referred to carer respite. The co-ordinator can help to arrange transport, someone to look after the patient if they are attending a group or activity on their own, or assessments regarding their home or finances. Over a 12 week period from the initial appointment, the co-ordinator will be able to support the patient with their decisions, follow up any referrals and signpost to any relevant organisations for continued support.

At the end of the 12 week period, the patient will be asked to complete a second questionnaire to see if the preventative measures have made any difference to the patient’s health and wellbeing.

All the research from the pilot will then be collated and used to secure further funding to maintain the service. We expect to see its first patients in October.

We are so proud to have been asked to be involved in this pilot and we know it is going to make a big difference to so many people in our area.

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