The success of East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s (ERYC) HealthiER referral schemes have inspired the expansion of its social prescribing programme.
Since November 2017, trained community link workers have been based at local GP surgeries offering social prescribing to local residents. In its first 16 months of operation, it has seen over 3,800 people, more than half of whom were 60 years old or more.
A local partnership supported by the Smile Foundation brings together Humber Teaching Foundation Trust, Hull and East Yorkshire MIND and ERYC. Its three-part model consists of link workers who meet, assess and develop a personalised plan with residents referred from various sources. Connectors help them make contact with those groups, while community builders work out in the community and with local voluntary and community services to develop activities and make the most of a local area’s assets.
In 2018 East Riding launched local Reading Well books on prescription to support those accessing services. For a rural area like East Riding there are particular needs and demands around access. Social prescribers travel out on the mobile libraries to engage with local communities, encourage them to organise activities in their village halls and to support groups interested in local arts and culture.
The Exercise On referral scheme and the Live Well scheme continue to flourish with GPs able to refer directly via a secure e-referral system. The referral is picked up by the central team the day the referral is made, and they will attempt to contact the patient within 48 hours. While the exercise-on-referral is a set period of 10 weeks – Live Well can last up to a year. Over the past year about 1,700 Exercise On referrals have been made as well as 258 Adult Live Well referrals and 230 Young Live Well referrals.
An evaluation of the latter by the University of Hull reported that 79 per cent completed the programme and more than half achieved at least a five per cent weight loss. In addition, other data suggests that one in three have committed to a long-term change in their lifestyle by taking out leisure centre membership once their programme finished.
It is not entirely clear how the social prescribers advocated in the NHS Long Term Plan and paid for by the NHS will fit into the existing scheme. It looks as though they will work alongside the existing scheme but perhaps have a more clinical focus, referring into condition focused programmes such as pain management rather than general programmes that offer a holistic approach.
Healthy Lifestyles Development Officer, East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Email: [email protected]