The stresses and strains of the pandemic have been a heavy burden on many people in the community and a new, physical and social medication has been revealed to help combat this.
One of Policy and Resources' actions in its Government Working Plan is ‘Social Prescribing’, a pilot scheme that is now being recruited for.
Social Prescribing is the act of referring people on to non-clinical activities that may be beneficial to their health; people can be prescribed social activities by their GP, nurse or other primary care professional.
The collaborative effort will aim to help the community in Guernsey recover from the adverse effects of the pandemic and two lockdowns. With people becoming more isolated and distanced from each other, there has been an uptick in mental and physical health issues according to local GPs.
Bringing about the scheme has been a joint effort between The Health Improvement Commission, IslandHealth, Guernsey Community Foundation, Health and Social Care and Public Health.
Pictured: The action was added to a list of emerging recovery actions in P&R’s Guernsey Working Plan.
“We know that loneliness and social isolation are harmful for our wellbeing,” said Bailiwick Social Prescribing Lead, Melissa Mitchell.
“Addressing this issue is one way a BSP Link Worker can help to support people to improve health,” she said.
If a GP thinks a patient would benefit from Social Prescribing, they’ll be able to refer patients on to Link Workers. These professionally trained workers will be available for free sessions with people, to listen and “explore” potential non-clinical activities that could help. The Health Improvement Commission is now recruiting for two of these Link Workers for the scheme.
SO, WHAT IS A ‘NON-CLINICAL’ ACTIVITY?
Link Workers will help patients get involved with various physical and social activities, depending on the person’s interests. This could be participation in art or music, horse-riding, singing or volunteering and conservation work.
A number of local organisations have partnered with the scheme, allowing Link Workers access to dozens of options for people.
Pictured: People could be prescribed anything from kayaking to drama classes.
“Social Prescribing has an important role to play in our new model of health care,” said President of HSC, Deputy Al Brouard.
“With the Bailiwick’s aging population, it is among many intiatives which support our key aim of empowering islanders to lead healthier and happier lives.
“Having the Health Improvement Commission LBG working with us to drive this forward through Bailiwick Social Prescribing is also very much in line with our partnership approach.
“The charity was established specifically to bring together the public, private and third sectors to collectively encourage healthy living. As noted in the Government Work Plan, social prescribing has the potential to play a key role in supporting islanders as we recover from the effects of Covid-19 on our community,” he said.
Pictured: Deputy Al Brouard has supported the initiative and the partnership.
The scheme builds upon a local provision of Social Prescribing already available in the island. Queens Road Medical Practice launched the first Link Worker service in February last year.
“I’ve had people who want to learn a new language, to challenge themselves. There’s so many different things people can be involved in,” said Link Worker, Clare Arnold.
Their service is also free, and a number of patients have already been prescribed services through them.
“I always ask patients what their biggest worry or concern is – it’s my job to see what can be done to relieve financial pressure, offer support at home or getting them out in the community.
“It can be anything really!” she said.
You can book a session with Ms Arnold directly through the Practice by calling 724184.
Pictured: Ms Arnold undertook extensive training at the Bromley by Bow centre in the UK, which focuses on Social Prescribing.
If you’re interested in becoming a Link Worker and applying for the two available positions with the Health Improvement Commission, there’s more information on their website.
“The BSP Link Worker Manager and Link Worker roles are great opportunities for professionals who are passionate about empowering people to improve their health and wellbeing,” said Mrs Mitchell.
“We are excited to be launching this new scheme in 2021.”
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