Well-being project delivers multiple benefits for both patients and GPs
Citizens Advice Westminster is one of a number of agencies delivering the “Self-Care Social Prescribing project” * which is now in its third year. This year we have supported around 125 patients who were referred by local GPs to our information and advice services for help with their non-medical health and well-being issues.
As one of the agents in the Project we can deliver a number of successful outcomes for both patients and medical professionals. GPs and practice staff can refer patients aged +65 with a non-medical health and well-being need onto our specialist support services. The aim of the Self-Care scheme is to increase patient confidence, help them make more informed decisions about their health and well-being, and promote new healthy lifestyle habits by accessing more personalised community-based support.
Social prescribing model
Many older patients are at risk of being increasingly isolated, housebound, and are suffering from poor social and emotional well-being. This further amplifies problems with existing health conditions and can lead to further deterioration. However, treating such non-medical drivers of poor health and well-being are not the conventional domain of doctors, nurses, and other clinical professionals. In West London, a frail older patient can take up an average of 30 GP practice visits. The programme has also reduced the number of hospitalisations by around 11.5 % (pilot year to March 2017) and reduced the need for GP practice hours.
The Self-Care scheme reached 800 frail or older patients in its pilot year and was forecast to reach around 1300 patients in the year to March 2018.
Benefits for patients include:
- Reduced depression and severe anxiety
- Improved self-confidence/self-worth
- Improved sense of health equality- i.e. feeling equally valued as other people by care services
- Maintained independence and dignity
- Reduced avoidable need for entering primary and secondary care
- Attendance allowance to pay for a carer (up to £3988 per year). The words of one client illustrates the outcomes we can achieve for vulnerable clients: “The service I received from Citizens Advice Westminster was support to complete the application form for Attendance Allowance. It was a very useful and helpful service and I was successful in the application, meaning I was awarded £55.56 per week to employ a much needed carer.”
Access to support services
Patients are provided with a personal consultation with a case manager or Heath and Social Care Assistant (HSCA) at their GP practice, to identify their needs, interests, and goals. If appropriate, the patient is prescribed a service in the Self-Care Social Prescribing directory. Patients receive six sessions, with an option for re-referral. The services range from massage and reflexology to mindfulness training and a befriending programme, often using yoga, art gallery visits or volunteering as a platform.
Click here to read the full independent “Social Return on Investment (SROI)” report produced by Envoy Partnership.
A client’s story
A retired gardener who had run his own small company maintaining small parks and squares was forced to give up his job due to the onset of dementia. His wife also had to give up her job as his dementia and Alzheimers’ and Parkinsons’ symptoms had worsened, particularly his memory and mobility, and he needed help eating and drinking.
The GP referred him to Citizens Advice Westminster who assessed he was eligible to claim Attendance Allowance at the higher rate, and helped him complete the application. Until then he had not been aware that he could be eligible to claim for a personal carer nor of any other ways of getting help, such as with transport.
Neha, our adviser (pictured), also informed him about the blue badge and taxicard schemes to help with transportation to the GP’s surgery. She also discussed the possible benefits his wife could claim if he were successful in an Attendance Allowance application that could help supplement their combined income. The adviser also sent a supporting statement detailing her observations of the client’s mobility and care issues, together with medical evidence.
The client is now awaiting the outcome of the claims, but he and his wife were extremely pleased and relieved to know of the services and benefits available to someone in their position. They were also thankful for information about the ways in which the client’s wife could benefit from a Carer’s Allowance since she cannot work while she cares for him.
*The Self-Care Social Prescribing model and directory of services is managed by Kensington and Chelsea Social Council (KCSC) on behalf of West London Clinical Commissioning Group (WLCCG). The model forms part of WLCCG’s integrated ‘My Care, My Way’ (MCMW) programme, which places over-65s at the heart of an holistic care and support plan and promotes independence.