During this last ‘Pandemic year’ Social Prescribers have been at the forefront of the Pandemic Response - on the ground for local residents. With over 8000 referrals for support, a 70%+ increase in the numbers from 2019/2020, our team has been a vital link between isolated/in-need residents and local provision/help.
This ‘pro-active’ approach from receiving a referral, contacting the resident, assessing need, and actioning support, has been complemented by the ingrained ‘reactive’ qualities of the team. When an emergency COVID-task needed to be undertaken, it was Social Prescribers who stepped up. Kick-starting the local Test & Trace calling, co-ordinating medication deliveries, cold-calling vulnerable patients from lists, sorting food parcels, linking in the new local Covid support groups, cancelling COVID vaccination appointments when vaccination deliveries failed to materialise - just some of the numerous tasks undertaken (many at short notice), with no fuss, just a passion to serve their community.
During this period, the service has also had to adapt its working practices to factors such as no access to practices, working from home and local agencies providing limited/restricted services to refer to. The ultimate change has been the lack of face-to-face engagement with residents and the adoption of phone and/or video appointments, which Social Prescribers have worked hard to make seamless and effective.
The service dealt with 8,196 referrals in 2020 to 2021 financial year. We have exceeded the 12-month target of 7,200 by 14%.
Some examples of our work
Supporting Families Pilot
The basic premise of our intervention was to work with the most vulnerable children identified by services working with children and young people stakeholders. Early research suggested that the disruption caused by the pandemic to educational, social, and recreational activities and community services has had an impact on children’s mental health and heightened the risk of abuse and neglect. It also showed a disproportionately negative impact on children with pre-existing behavioural conditions like Autism or those who rely on community or specialist health services. The service was aware that the socio-economic impact of the pandemic was likely to be felt hardest by marginalised families and children.
During this pilot, the Social Prescribing team worked with 213 families with children waiting for Autism assessment and 412 families with children identified as medically vulnerable.
Health Tree Partnership
The Social Prescribing service began working with the Health Tree partnership. This initiative came about through a successful collective bid to the Arts Council - Thriving Communities Fund and provides enhanced referral pathways for our Social Prescribing Team to refer to local arts initiatives.
The community-led arts activities, delivered as part of the programme, provide us with access to a proven alternative approach to wellbeing.
Participation in the arts can improve health outcomes for patients, by promoting wellbeing, and strengthening communities by providing new opportunities for social connection. This development aims to support some of our most vulnerable residents, particularly through COVID recovery.