An estimated one in three people contact their GP with concerns that can’t be addressed clinically. Liverpool, always a step ahead, is trailblazing a two-pronged approach to social prescribing, which is unique in the UK: patients can get rapid access to practical high-quality support with housing and money matters, as well as emotional and community support.
The NHS is working with Liverpool city council, Healthwatch Liverpool, Citizens Advice Liverpool and a huge range of community organisations to provide a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. The partnership, called Wellbeing Liverpool, is launching a campaign to promote social prescribing with a series of short videos, which will be posted on social media and shown in GP waiting rooms. The first video will go live on Social Prescribing Day on 18th March and will introduce the benefits of social prescribing to a wider audience.
The term social prescribing has been in use in the UK for a number of years to describe an all-round personal care approach to health and wellbeing. Patients are put in touch with a “social prescriber”, more commonly called link worker, whose role is to support patients in unpicking often complex issues affecting their health and wellbeing.
Through social prescribing patients are encouraged to explore what matters to them in life, and to work with their link worker to devise a wellbeing plan based on their individual needs.
Cheryl Mould, Provider Alliance Director for NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
“Social prescribers can offer a wealth of knowledge about the network of organisations that exist in a patient’s local community, and will work to help identify and link their patients to local services that can offer them relevant support and activities.
“Evidence shows that regular, meaningful contact with other people, for instance through simple activities such as gardening, reading groups, or dog-walking, can help us all to feel more connected, develop new skills, build confidence, and overcome setbacks. Social prescribing is something that can support and empower everyone to take charge of improving their own health and wellbeing.”
Dr. Cheryl Lowes, GP in Liverpool and Community Development Lead for Primary Care, said:
“Spring this year feels particularly poignant. Twelve months on from the start of the pandemic it feels as if we may be embarking on a new, better chapter as the Liverpool Covid Vaccination Programme continues at remarkable pace.
“As a GP, I know that the pandemic has exacerbated many people’s concerns with issues such as housing and money matters, but also isolation and general mental distress. I am passionate about showing patients a way through, not with unnecessary clinical interventions, but by linking patients to practical advice and wellbeing support within our communities; also known as Social Prescribing.”
Social prescribing is for everyone. People can contact their GP for a referral to a link worker, or go online and browse the Wellbeing Liverpool directory to tailor a plan for themselves.