You may be able get support with more than just your medical needs the next time you visit your GP surgery. That’s because a new team of workers is now available who can help with far more than your immediate medical issues.
The staff – known officially as ‘social prescribers’ – help the rest of the practice team to decide the best treatment route for patients whose medical issue may be connected to other aspects of their life. The wider team includes health and wellbeing coaches, occupational therapists and mental health professionals and they work together to determine how people can tackle those underlying problems which have a negative effect on their health
Referrals to community activities, groups and services – often close to home and run by local voluntary and charity groups – are designed to help people improve and take control of their own health and wellbeing.
T, a 60 year old man from Bedford, was referred to the East Bedford PCN Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) following a GP appointment. He was overweight and suffering with anxiety and low mood.
It was initially decided that health and wellbeing coaching would be the best route for treatment; however, following the first meeting with T it became apparent that his needs were wider than this and that his problems ran deeper than just his weight and mood issues.
There were several issues in his life that he needed support with that were not health related but were having a significant negative impact on his mental health including issues with his housing and finances.
The social prescriber discovered that T was not working and had not been claiming any benefits so had built up a large amount of debt. Together with T, they applied for universal credit and PIP and also made an appointment with Citizens Advice. T was able to meet with a debt recovery service and a payment plan is now in place.
T had also revealed that he was living in unsuitable accommodation, which was a tiny studio flat in a block full of students. He was unable to sleep in his bed due to lack of space so slept in his armchair causing a number of issues with his back.
The social prescriber was able to organise a meeting with the housing association, which resulted in T being rehomed into sheltered accommodation due to his mobility issues. As such, he now lives in a safe, clean accommodation surrounded by people of a similar age to him, which has enabled him to make some friends.
This case is a great example of how working collaboratively with our partners has a big impact on our patients. T was recently offered further support however it was not needed and he said that “life is now amazing”.