NCVS has worked alongside the NHS in Nottingham to contribute to the successful implementation of Social Prescribing in local communities. Part of the NHS England Long Term Plan to deliver personalised care, Social Prescribing is when GPs, nurses, other primary care professionals and local agencies refer patients to a Link Worker (or similar role) who enables them to access appropriate support in the community, in order to improve their health and wellbeing.
How does Social Prescribing work?
Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, Social Prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health and wellbeing.
Link Workers delivering Social Prescribing take this holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing by connecting people to local community groups, non-clinical and statutory services for practical and emotional support.
Social Prescribing works for a wide range of people, including people:
- with one or more long-term conditions
- who need support with their mental health
- who are lonely or isolated
- who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing
This is not an exhaustive list.
To find out more about Social Prescribing, visit the NHS web page.
The role of NCVS in co-productive working
Towards the end of 2019, and during the early months of 2020, NCVS worked closely with the Link Workers responsible for delivering Social Prescribing in Nottingham city's eight local Primary Care Networks (PCNs), as well as with local voluntary sector lead organisations and community groups to shape the delivery of Social Prescribing across Nottingham.
This involved working co-productively across Nottingham's Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector, building multi-agency partnerships, raising awareness of Social Prescribing, sharing learning and good practice, mapping the gaps of VCSE provision and supporting and strengthening the development of VCSE provision.
Social Prescribing Community Conversations
Nottingham city GPs started Social Prescribing through the eight PCN Link Workers on 20 January 2020.
As Social Prescribing is still in the process of being shaped across the city, we feel it is vital that the VCSE sector (both small neighbourhood volunteer run community groups as well as larger voluntary organisations) is involved alongside NHS partners and the Nottingham City GP Alliance.
To enable this to happen, during January and February 2020, we held a number of Community Conversation events in different areas across the city, as well as holding a city-wide event. These events explained more about what Social Prescribing is, the referral process, the benefits, and who the city’s Primary Care Network (PCN) Link Workers are.
Feedback from our initial Community Conversation events
We're pleased to report that 100% of attendees at our initial Community Conversation events indicated that they would be interested in finding out more about being involved in Social Prescribing, and the majority would like to meet with their PCN area Link Worker, as well as attend any follow up events which might be arranged.
The events helped to bring together a wide and diverse range of local VCSE groups as well as other city-wide organisations. They also provided a forum for VCSE groups to ask questions and raise any concerns. This feedback will be used directly to help develop Social Prescribing in the city.
Some of the concerns that have been highlighted so far include a lack of funding and general lack of capacity within the VCSE sector, especially for small grass-roots groups, and the potential workload of the Link Workers.
It was great to see the Link Workers attending our events and it was a great opportunity for people to meet them and network. At the end of our events we asked attendees to provide us with up to three positive actions they could take to follow up and it was encouraging to see so many positive ideas being discussed.
To tie in with the official launch of the programme across Nottingham city on 20 January, NCVS ran a 12-hour social media campaign on our Twitter and Facebook channels, which received a fantastic response in terms of reach and engagement.