Spotlight on Sefton’s Social Prescribing Link Workers

In Sefton, the seven Primary Care networks (PCNs), supported by both CCGs, have taken a partnership approach to developing the new social prescribing link workers (SPLW). The approach is showing promising early results for patients as well as seeing SPLWs play an important role in the borough’s response to COVID-19.

Helping to give people greater control over their own health with support from an integrated community based team of health and care services is integral to the vision set down in Sefton2gether, Sefton’s response to the NHS Long Term Plan.

The PCNs in Sefton worked in partnership with NHS Southport and Formby CCG and NHS South Sefton CCG, the voluntary, community and faith (VCF) sector and Sefton Council to design their SPLW service.

The key aspect to Sefton’s approach to establishing its SPLW service has been that it builds on the strengths of an existing Living Well Sefton (LWS) service, which delivers person-centred health and wellbeing and through a partnership of VCF organisations, commissioned by Sefton Council and co-ordinated by Sefton CVS. The success of LWS was recognised when it was shortlisted for a Local Government Chronicle ‘Best Service Delivery Model Award’ in January 2019.

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LWS is uniquely placed to join and connect with our wider social prescribing support offer, and enables our residents to access services from the 1,400 voluntary, community and faith organisations in Sefton. The holistic approach to the programme not only identifies the immediate needs and support for each individual, but can inspire them to develop as a person and reconnect with life and the community, perhaps unearthing a forgotten hobby or interest that can be incorporated into their plan.

SPLWs have been in place since late 2019 and in this short space of time there are already many case studies highlighting the difference they are making to people’s lives. One example relates to a resident who had to leave her job due to health problems. She had a sister who lived in the area and was her only friend, so she was suffering from loneliness too. But she was determined to get back on her feet, expressing a desire to continue learning, having recently booked herself onto an IT course as well as a cookery course through Sefton at Work, a free job-related service provided by Sefton Council.

She was supported by her SPLW to create an action plan with goals and objectives tailored to her unique requirements. Further conversations revealed that she had a number of interests including her passion for keeping fit. Knowing that the client was keen to learn more and develop new skills, the SPLW mentioned a coaching programme called Aspiring Instructors, which he felt could benefit her. He also recommended some of the programmes offered by the Life Rooms, run by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, which help with peoples’ personal development skills. The client has been accepted onto the ‘Aspiring Instructors’ course and her whole outlook on life has changed. There has been a remarkable improvement in both her physical and mental health. She is now more active, engaged with the community and is looking forward, confidently, to a brighter future.

The way we established SPLWs has also been instrumental during the current COVID-19 response. Due to the service having existing, well established links across health and care, it has been easier for the team to adapt its role to provide additional support to our most vulnerable patients across Sefton.

This has included:

  • Receiving referrals of those on the shielded list that have been contacted by Sefton Council and have requested additional support.
  • Discussing the person’s needs through completing a wellness check with them remotely.
  • Linking with the wider offer of support from Sefton CVS and the wider VCF sector including Health Trainers, Macmillan Navigators and Living Well Mentors.
  • Working with the patient to develop a short plan which covers their practical, physical and emotional needs, setting appropriate personal goals.

The partnership is now looking at ways the service will need to adapt to support the borough’s residents as we increasingly look towards recovery.

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