social prescribing

link workers

Primary Care Networks were introduced in 2019 to help the NHS meet the changing needs of patients.

With the population growing, living longer, and more of us with long-term health conditions, more people need to access local health and social care services more often.

What is it?

It’s helping people with non-clinical issues, and connecting them with relevant local support services or groups.

A key component of the NHS Long Term Plan is personalised care. This involves taking an holistic approach that understands the often complex needs of individuals, and proactively supports them to find solutions.

The role of Social Prescribing is to provide a joined up system that helps people tackle needs that are social rather than medical.

While staff in general practice have often performed this role in the past, it is not always their speciality. Patients who were confident enough to seek help could be signposted to known service, but an informal and inconsistent approach meant an inequality of outcomes, even for those who sought support.

The introduction of Primary Care Networks, gave a clear and consistent pathway with specialist staff recruited to give people time and confidence to work on the underlying issues which affect their health and wellbeing.

With an estimated 1 in every 5 patient consultations with a GP dealing with a non-clinical issue, Social Prescribing has the potential to reduce workload pressure and financial burden within primary care.

How it works

While Social Prescribing may have been new to many areas when introduced in 2019, for DDHF it was a natural continuation of one of our existing services.

Our Health Care Coordinator team was developed because of an unmet, non-clinical need for the more elderly and vulnerable in the community.

Now, our Social Prescribing services are available to anyone aged 18 or older who needs support for issues such as housing ,finances, family and social networks, emotional wellbeing and physical health.

DDHF employs Social Prescribing Link Workers (SPLW) to work in each of the 3 Primary Care Networks in our area.

Patients can be referred by their GP practice to each of our SPLWs, who will work with them to establish their needs, priorities and goals. The result is a co-creating personalised plan that empowers patients to be able to take control of their life and make choices that benefit their own wellbeing.

Our SPLWs will work with each patient through regular visits, phone calls and catch ups.

The Team

Our SPLWs are recruited for their listening skills, empathy and ability to form effective relationships and support people.

As well as these vital traits, they have a thick book of contacts filled with community groups, charities, and other services who can provide the support their patients need.

A priority for the team is to provide a safe space for discussion, exploration and mutual support.

One way they’re doing this is through creating online communities to connect with people and offer support through Facebook.

Hover over your area on the map, and click to find your local Social Prescribing Team Facebook page.

Interactive map of the 3 Primary Care Networks in Durham Dales