Patients registered with practices who are members of the Jurassic Coast Primary Care Network (PCN) covering West Dorset, who have a non-clinical need, are benefitting from closer links with the Town Council and local voluntary organisations through Social Prescribing, another example of how local health services are #HereForYou.

There is emerging evidence that social prescribing can lead to a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes for people such as improved quality of life and emotional wellbeing. Schemes can involve a variety of activities which are non- clinical and are typically provided by voluntary and community sector organisations, or professional health and wellbeing coaches from your GP Practice. Examples include befriending, gardening, support with healthier eating, exercise, debt guidance and what’s important to you for your health and wellbeing. Social Prescribing has come to you now in West Dorset.

Dr Jo Cotton tells us “People come and see their GP for a variety of reasons and we often see people who may not have a clinical need but have other underlying issues which could be anything from mild depression to simply wanting some connection with other people to reduce a feeling of loneliness or isolation. The introduction of Social Prescribing means we are able point people to other organisations who may be better able to help them.

As with any change, there was some initial scepticism with the scheme but I am delighted to say we have had really positive feedback from patients who have found the support they needed from our Social Prescribing Service and our growing volunteer network.”

Alan from Bradpole has shared his story: he tells us that he had previously been advised that he should not leave the house alone.  He hadn’t left his house for two years. With intervention from the Social Prescribing team, Alan now goes out most days and is building up his confidence to walk to the village post office and is spending more time in his garden.

Other examples of how Social Prescribing has benefitted people in West Dorset:

  • Providing health coaching to empower people to better self-manage their health conditions.
  • Wellness calls to people, some of whom have not spoken to anyone else that day
  • Collecting and delivering prescriptions to shielded people
  • Community support group signposting
  • Supporting recently bereaved people through direct contact and fundraising initiatives
  • Shopping trips for vulnerable people
  • Making meals for the local foodbank in Lyme Regis.

Social Prescriber Joanne Ellis said “I was appointed two weeks  before the lockdown started back in March and it quickly became apparent that we were going to have to change the way we worked in order to help people throughout the pandemic. The need for the services has always been there, however the current situation has highlighted just how important it is to have this service in place on an ongoing basis.

I am really fortunate that I work with such a fantastic network. Together with local councils and volunteers our work has been both challenging and incredibly rewarding. We have enabled people to focus on what matters to them and form lasting connections with those around them during a very difficult time.”

If you think you may benefit from the Social Prescribing Service and are registered at one of the Jurassic Coast PCN practices, please contact JCSocialPrescribing@dorsetgp.nhs.uk. Otherwise please speak to your usual practice.