9th March 2023 marks Social Prescribing day! Social prescribers play a key role in primary care, supporting patients to become less socially isolated, and improve their wellbeing and health by accessing activities and services in their local community. Hear from Chanel as she explains what her role involves and why she gets so much satisfaction from it:
Article written by Chanel Radford, social prescriber for North Newham Primary Care Network
I am a social prescriber working in Newham, covering Forest Gate. I love my job because I have the privilege of listening to people’s stories. I enjoy supporting and empowering them to improve different areas of their life. People are referred to me by their GPs, mental health teams and social services if they have non-medical problems that are impacting their health – such as housing, finances, low mood, isolation and many more reasons.
It is my role to give people time to tell their stories and focus on what is important to them. Listening is a key part of my job, it’s important that people feel heard. I then discuss what support is available and we decide on what next steps to take. I may send a referral and signpost services for them to contact directly if this is agreed and suitable.
On a typical day I mainly work from home, so I can have between 8-10 telephone appointments. They usually consist of 2/3 new referrals and the others are follow up calls. The rest of my time is spend doing admin, sending or responding to referrals/emails, researching new services and making contact with them.
It is such a rewarding feeling when I see people’s wellbeing improve. They are more confident about reaching out to community services after receiving positive input. Their mood improves and they start taking the right steps to manage and improve their health conditions. This is also noticed by other members of the GP practice.
I will never forget one lady I referred to an exercise programme. Before starting, she could not walk far because of pain in her legs due to arthritis. After completing the programme, she was able to walk a lot more without pain. Her mood was cheerful and motivated and she so thrived with the service that they allowed her to be re-referred again.
I recently supported a gentleman who was homeless, I referred him to a community service who was able to get him housing. He was extremely grateful as he did not have any friends or family to help and had multiple health conditions which were negatively impacted by rough sleeping.
Also, Mrs F was very pleased with the community service that helped her complete her Personal Independence Payment form. She struggled because of the language barrier so she never thought she could apply. I also referred her for food bank support as she was struggling financially. She said that she felt her stress level reduce.