Prescribing, but not as you know it

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Have you ever been ill and needed a prescription? What if that prescription wasn’t a tablet, but an activity? Social Prescribing is one way to provide non-clinical solutions that don’t involve medication.

Funding from NHS Highland has enabled Carr Gomm to develop and establish two pilot sites for the Link Worker approach to social prescribing in Argyll; the Argyll Street Practice in Dunoon and the Bute Practice in Rothesay.  This social prescribing promotion service is called Connections for Well Being.

A Link Worker approach to Social Prescribing is part of a growing emphasis on community engagement and health promoting activities. It provides a wider range of possible responses to health and social problems, and ensures that people can have access to up-to-date information about services and projects within their community.

For example, if someone attends their GP with anxiety which is connected to practical issues such as debt or social issues such as loneliness, the doctor can refer to the Link Worker, who can take time to find out what help is available for the person in their situation.

Resources may be based within the local community, or the person can find out about other options, such as helplines or online information, depending on their preferences and interests.   A wide range of resources may be agreed, including arts and crafts, physical activities and learning new skills, as well as linking the person to services and projects. 

Fiona is the new Link Worker in Rothesay.  She is working with the patients who are referred to her to access local resources, groups and interests.  This has included helping people with mobility issues to fill out the relevant paperwork to apply for a Blue Badge and also work with their landlord to ensure that all the relevant aids and adaptations are in place in their home as well.

Graham Bolton, Practice Manager of the Bute Practice, commented: “This is an invaluable resource which taps into the available support in the community, something the GPs do not always have the time or knowledge to be fully aware of or support.”

“Fiona spends considerable time in seeking out support where available” Graham continued. “We are delighted to have such a service on site and, as it grows, I’m sure more patients will appreciate the benefits having a social prescriber brings.”

Carr Gomm is delighted to be working with NHS Highland to pilot the Link Worker approach. As part of the Connections for Well Being project, the pilot is focusing on how the approach can work in more rural areas, and will feed into the development of NHS Highland’s approach to social prescribing in the future.