“I’ve gained my life back thanks to social prescribing”
Jamie’s life changed forever when Social Prescriber, Victoria, walked in on an unintentional suicide attempt at their initial consultation. Since then, the two have worked closely together to save Jamie’s life.
As part of a new initiative by the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) Integrated Care System (ICS), Social Prescribing teams are going one step further to care for local residents like Jamie.
Social prescribing is when health professionals refer patients to support in the community to help improve their health and wellbeing. By spending dedicated time with the patient, teams can unpick the things causing concern and help connect them with organisations and activities in their area.
Through this approach, social prescriber Victoria was able to refer Jamie into community lead initiatives to support him to tackle his issue with alcohol and drugs and worked with him to implement daily routines, like bathing, to help him take regular care for himself.
Jamie, said: “I can’t thank Victoria enough for what she has done for me. She sold life back to me when I was done.
“Over the years, I’ve struggled with alcohol and substance abuse which has caused a number of long-term conditions that I couldn’t manage alone. There was even a period where I wasn’t washing, just wearing the same clothes for months.
“Working together, I’m now on the right tracks and I am attending regular sessions for alcohol recovery and mental health support. It’s also inspired me to give back to the community and I am currently studying to gain computer skills with a local service to help me become a counsellor.
“Last Christmas looked so bleak for me but this year I’m entering the festive period with a new outlook and excitement for the future.
“Thanks to social prescribing, I’ve gained my life back. Yes medication helps me manage my life but social prescribing has helped me to live it.”
Social prescribing is part of a wider, national scheme referred to as Population Health Management (PHM) where health and care professionals actively identify vulnerable individuals or groups that they can support.
Jamie’s link worker, Victoria, is a trained Social Prescriber and the Wellbeing Lead for Titan Primary Care Network (PCN) group of GP practices in Bedfordshire. As part of her role, Victoria identifies gaps in local provisions and works with existing or new community groups to create a service that bridges the gap.
Victoria said: “Social prescribers like myself keep a very open mind about anyone who comes to see us and make sure to offer a full range of interventions which might help improve their health and wellbeing.
“When I first met Jamie, he wasn’t seeking help from our local services at all and, although he was known to the local alcohol service, was not engaging with this support. Following social prescribing intervention, he is now fully engaged with his recovery.
“It’s been amazing to see his progress and I’m so excited to see what else he will achieve.”
We know there are links between those with long-term conditions and social vulnerability – with 90% of people with social vulnerability living on their own. These residents often contact out of hours GP services or 999 when they need health advice, potentially ending up in hospital unnecessarily.
Victoria and her team look at population data and identify local people that could benefit from a review by someone like a social prescriber.
Victoria added: “Many of the people we have worked with no longer need to contact out of hours GP or 999 for health advice. They have a better understand of how they can look after themselves including managing their diet and seeking support from services in the community.
“Social prescribing link workers are becoming an integral part of the multi-disciplinary team working out of GP practices. It’s not just about medical care but helping people to live healthier, more fulfilling lives. Jamie is the perfect example of how our work truly makes a difference.
“Some people might think looking at data sounds a bit too technical but I’m on the frontline seeing patients on a daily basis and can honestly say, we’re helping people who need us.”
You can read more how social prescribing helped local resident, Jane, who has multiple long-term conditions and lives alone, on our website.