Doncaster social prescribing service reaches 500th referral

Geoffrey Morgan.
Geoffrey Morgan.

A local man has become the 500th referral to Doncaster’s social prescribing service, which opened its doors less than a year ago.

Run in partnership between Doncaster CVS and South Yorkshire Housing and part-funded by NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, social prescribing is the perfect tonic for linking people up to activities in the community that they might benefit from.

Many patients suffer health problems because of issues that impact on their lives, such as managing their money and paying their bills, or finding suitable accommodation to live in. Some people also need help to look after their emotional wellbeing, or support to find a job or to do volunteering activities.

The way that the service works is that a ‘prescription’ is given in the form of an introduction to various, related, activities going on throughout the borough. This presents clients with new experiences, support and friends, which can help them improve their general physical and mental wellbeing.

Fifve hundredth referral, Geoffrey Morgan (pictured), from Bentley, has recently benefited from the service. Now in his 70s, the Doncaster resident was once an active member of his local community but became more isolated in his older age, often opting to stay at home than venture out.

Recognising the benefit that staying active and meeting new friends would have on his health, Geoff’s GP referred him on to the social prescription service with social isolation.

Having accessed the service and worked with an advisor, Geoff opted to join an over 60s men’s social club which operates in St James’ Church, where he has become a regular and made fast friends with other members. The group, which meet each Wednesday, offers older men the chance to get together, chat, play dominos and share interests.

The Bentley resident has also been helped to organise adjustments to his home to make things easier for he and his wife who both aren’t as mobile as they used to be. This work included converting their bathroom into a wet room to make showering easier and installing adaptive equipment to make getting in and out of bed less challenging.

Geoff, who has recently taken part in a short film detailing his experiences with the service, which can be found at http://tinyurl.com/doncsocial, said: “I would recommend the service to anyone. At my age you can lose touch with what’s happening in your local area. Working with Debbie, my advisor, I’ve been put in touch with a new bunch of people to socialize with, as well having some improvements made to my house which has made getting up and about easier for me and my wife.”

“If you think you can benefit from the service, prompt your doctor. Have a word with him. It’s better if you can stay independent and active, especially at my age. It’s easy to get morbid when you’re sat in at home all the time, but, as I’ve been shown, there’s always things you can do – so get out there!”

Mandy Willis, Social Prescribing Manager at Doncaster CVS, said: “This is a great service and provides the link for GPs and their patients to the voluntary and community sector in Doncaster. Our advisors visit people in their own homes and support clients to explore community groups and activities in the borough and help them to access these services. It may be a referral for aids and adaptations, for a benefits check or a group to make friends and new connections.

Dr Nick Tupper, chair of the CCG, said: “Social prescription is another way that we can reduce the strain on busy GPs by offering an alternative which empowers people to tackle their health problems which can’t be solved through pills, tablets and other medical interventions. It’s important that we commission services that help people to stay independent and support them to make changes to their life that can improve their general wellbeing.”

Social prescribing is open to everyone in Doncaster with issues such as isolation, loneliness, bereavement, housing, debt and much more. All referrals must be made through your GP.