Putting Housing, technology and digital social prescribing at the heart of a wellbeing revolution
Last week, Northern Housing Magazine met with one of our customers Jenny Chapman who revealed how technology is transforming health and wellbeing in an industrial Northern port town.
In today’s blog, we’re sharing Jenny’s key thoughts from the article and how she feels digital is playing a vital role in the success of their social prescribing programme.
More than 1 million people in the UK visit their GP with non-medical conditions every day
Social prescribing is undergoing a digital revolution. The emergence of affordable smart technologies, internet of things and connectivity has transformed society and its helping solve one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS, demand.
More than 1 million people in the UK visit their GP with non-medical conditions every day, which places a huge financial strain on the health and social care service.
It’s estimated that appointments for issues such as social isolation and loneliness cost the economy £2.5 billion each year.
Social prescribing is continuing to grow on GPs. They have seen the benefits of being able to refer people for non – clinical interventions to local community services which have helped promote positive lifestyle changes and reduce the need or medical treatment.
Demonstrating impact to help predict the future of social prescribing
Championed by the NHS, social prescribing has already cut GP consultation rates by 28 % and A&E attendance by 24 %. Numerous studies suggest social prescribing can lead to better outcomes for people.
It looks set to grow rapidly in the coming years. The NHS predicts at least 900,000 people will be supported by it over the next four years.
Digital technology is playing a crucial role in improving how social prescribing is delivered.
Passport for wellbeing
Last year we partnered with Elemental and became, one of the first landlords to run a digital social prescribing pilot.
We launched the Passport to Wellbeing in Ellesmere Port with Cheshire West & Chester Council in April 2018. The programme links up local services, interventions and activities with GPs, statutory, and third sector providers and without Elemental, this project would have been impossible.
These interventions are making a positive impact on people’s wellbeing, improving their quality of life and creating new opportunities to help them fuel their potential.
In the first year, 74 people, through non-medical methods, were prescribed activities such as gardening, relaxation, money advice and counselling.
88 % of people recorded a positive uplift in their wellbeing scores across the themes of a safe and comfortable home, a healthy mind and body, financial wellbeing and employment opportunities. One participant visited her GP due to issues with mobility and personal care. It transpired, she was experiencing loneliness and has no family close by.
The framework of social prescribing enabled a referral to ForHousings’s wellbeing service, and she received support such as being introduced to social activities at her local church and could register her home that met her mobility needs.
Building trust, identifying issues and offering non-medical support
GP partner, Dr Rajesh Rajan said the programme having a big impact at his surgery as it means he can offer people solutions and holistic options in a different and non-medical way to improve their health.
When the project began, social prescribing was relatively unknown outside of health circles. Now, with the help of digital innovation, it is increasingly gaining political momentum.
Housing providers play an essential role in communities. We are more than landlords, We might be the only service someone speaks to.
We form a relationship with individuals through regular contact. We build trust and identify potential issues.
Nationally, social prescribing continues to be seen largely as the domain of the health sector, but we all have a part to play and we must work collaboratively.
In developing Passport to Wellbeing, partnership work was vital because GPs are often the first port of call when someone needs support, while as a landlord we might be the only service that people regularly contact.
About ForHousing and Passport to Wellbeing
ForHousing’s vision is ‘Improved Lives’, and together with Cheshire West and Chester Council we want communities to thrive. As part of our commitment to delivering our Community Impact Strategy ForHousing are embracing the concept of social prescribing – linking local residents to sources of non-clinical support in their communities from cooking classes and exercise programmes to employment support and debt advice – as a way of supporting tenants to maintain successful tenancies, build healthy, thriving communities and reduce health inequalities across their neighbourhoods.
Through our partnership with Elemental, we set up Passport to Wellbeing using their award-winning digital platform.
Passport to Wellbeing offers social, emotional and practical help, which is tailored to meet the needs of individuals in the Westminster area.
The Passport to Wellbeing helps tenants discover:
- Healthy lifestyle activities and skills
- Employment, training and volunteering
- Advice to manage your home and finances
- Your community and new interests
Using Elemental’s digital social prescribing platform, our wellbeing team make direct referrals, tailored to the needs of Cheshire West and Chester Council tenants, to services and support in the area with the aim of supporting people to improve their wellbeing through their community. GPs also have access to refer patients through to social prescribing activities and increase the numbers of tenants accessing and engaging with programmes delivered by ForHousing and our partners.
about the author
JENNY CHAPMAN, GROUP DIRECOTOR OF INNOVATION AND EXCELLENCE , FORHOUSING
Jenny is passionate about working in partnership to bring about positive change that improves quality of life for individuals and communities. She has 28 years’ experience of working within the fields of Social Care, Health, Community Services, Education, Supported Housing and Regeneration.
Her experience spans statutory, voluntary and the independent sector, managing, driving and delivering high quality, person-centred services that meet and exceed regulatory requirements and strategic business objectives.
Jenny joined ForHousing in January 2017 and brings her experience of quality and service improvement to support in demonstrating the changes made to health and wellbeing.