Surgery tests social prescribing

Castle Partnership Social prescribingA GP practice in Norwich is trialing a different way of helping some patients, called social prescribing.

A number of patients come to see their doctor or nurse with problems that don’t need medicine. They might be lonely, leading unhealthy lifestyles or have housing problems, for example.

So GPs at Tuckswood surgery are working closely with Age UK Norwich and Community Action Norwich to find better ways of helping them.

They are ‘prescribing’ help such as befriending, community transport, learning and volunteering opportunities, physical activity, parenting courses and support with practical issues such as benefits, housing, debt and employment.

This way the patients are helped to deal with problems they face and are supported to improve their wellbeing. It’s about helping people help themselves, rather than just treating the symptoms.

Dr Tesh Patel from Tuckswood Surgery said: “It is great to be part of this pilot in Norwich which looks at other ways of helping patients that does not involve medication or GP intervention. There is growing evidence that social prescribing is effective. Evidence from similar pilots in the UK suggests it can lead to real changes in people’s lives.”

The social prescribing pilot has been introduced as part of NHS Norwich CCG’s Healthy Norwich programme.

The partners who operate from the GP surgery, Age UK Norwich and Community Action Norfolk, both have a wide network of other local community partners to support successful onward referrals. Community Action Norfolk is providing £5,000 to fund the advice providers.

The Chief Executive of Age UK Norwich, Susan Ringwood, said: “We know that being worried about your housing situation, or feeling isolated can have a direct effect on your health. Helping people to overcome these worries or to improve their sense of wellbeing will help prevent more serious health issues from developing. It makes sense to keep people as mentally and physically well as possible, and social prescribing has been proven to do that.”

There is also additional support from Stonham Homestay, which provides intensive support for those at risk of losing their home and a ‘digital health’ coaching session offering one-to-one on line support for people to manage their long term health condition.