Social prescribing promotes and improves health and wellbeing in Cotswolds
Release date: 11 January 2016
A successful ground-breaking pilot project to help people in the Cotswolds access services and activities to improve their health and wellbeing has recently been expanded to benefit even more residents.
Cotswold District Council and South Cotswolds Clinical Commissioning Group have been working together for almost two years, offering patients at several GP practices a ‘social prescription’ which allows primary care services to refer patients with social, emotional or practical needs to a range of local, non-clinical services and activities, such as a befriending service or physical activity class. This approach has been available for some time at surgeries in St Peters Road, Cirencester; The Park, Cirencester; Rendcomb; and Lechlade Medical Centre. A similar scheme is being run in the north of the District by Cotswold Friends and is commissioned separately through the North Cotswolds Clinical Commissioning Group, which offers social prescriptions to patients at: Cotswold Medical Practice (both Bourton-on-the Water and Northleach bases); Chipping Campden Surgery; Mann Cottage Surgery, Moreton-in-Marsh; White House Surgery, Moreton-in-Marsh; and Stow Surgery, Stow-on-the-Wold.
Thanks to further funding, three additional officers have made it possible to extend social prescribing to the Phoenix and Avenue surgeries in Cirencester, Romney House surgery in Tetbury and Fairford surgery.
Social Prescription Hub Coordinator, Sarah Clifton-Gould, from Cotswold District Council, explains why the scheme is so effective:
“When a GP or Practice Nurse in one of the selected surgeries sees a patient who they think might benefit from the scheme, they fill out a social prescription, which allows the patient to make an appointment to see me. I then spend time with that patient, find out about their current situation, what help they need and what might improve their quality of life. With this information, I can connect them into services, support, clubs and groups and other opportunities.”
Cllr Sue Coakley, CDC’s Cabinet Member for Health, Environment and Communities, adds:
“The aim of the project is to improve people’s health and wellbeing, whilst reducing pressure on health services, and the results have been very positive. The project has enabled CDC to help over 200 people so far with issues including bereavement, caring responsibilities, loneliness and isolation, obesity and debt and housing worries. We’ve been able to match them with everything from volunteer befrienders to community choirs and other social groups; from home adaptations and community transport to counselling and peer support groups; from specialist exercise classes and walking groups to debt advice. This approach really works and, in acknowledgment of our achievements, we recently received some funding from Public Health England – this has resulted in us being able to distribute just over £11,500 to small organisations and charities who are delivery partners in the project.”
Dr. Helen Bromwich of St Peters Road surgery, says:
“GPs can prescribe medicines or refer patients to specialists but there are often times when problems go beyond medical issues and there is just not enough time available to delve deeper during routine appointments. However, social prescribing has given us the option of referring patients to meet those other needs and, hopefully, improve their health and wellbeing, It’s been so helpful to provide this service for Carers particularly”
Carers Gloucestershire is equally impressed. A representative comments:
“This project has helped us strengthen links with the Council and – most importantly – has made it possible for us to reach out and help people who previously would not have taken of advantage of the services that we offer. This has to be a very positive step forward.”
The South Cotswolds Social Prescription pilot project is coordinated by Cotswold District Council with the support of a project group made up of representatives of Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, St Peters Road Surgery, Rendcomb Surgery, Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust and Gloucestershire County Council, a carer and a service user.
For South Cotswolds, contact Sarah Clifton-Gould, Healthy Communities Officer, on 01285 623000.
For North Cotswolds, contact Sally Perkins, Social Prescribing Co-ordinator or Kirsty Holder, Befriending Services Manager on 01608 651415.