Bailiwick Social Prescribing shines a light on social needs impacting health
9th March 2022
While Guernsey enjoys a high standard of living, and opportunities for good health compared with many other parts of the world; it is estimated that one in five UK GP appointments focuses on wider social needs. We have seen a need in Guernsey for non-medical support since launching Bailiwick Social Prescribing in July 2021, within the Health Improvement Commission.
This week sees the BSP team attending the 4th International Social Prescribing conference, we’re proud that Guernsey is represented as we also celebrate Social Prescribing Day on March 10th.
What are the social needs that affect our health?
The conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age all have an impact on our health. Factors such as housing, education, welfare, work, including how lonely or isolated we are play a role in shaping our long-term health. These ‘social factors’ of our health can enable us and our society to thrive, or not. They can indeed make us unwell, but their impact cannot be fixed by doctors and medicine alone.
Due to the scheme, IslandHealth and Healthcare Group GPs have another option to refer patients to a professionally trained BSP Link Worker who can empower them to address social factors affecting them and gain access to a range of non-medical support to improve wellbeing. The scheme has received over 170 referrals to date.
There has been much talk of people being socially prescribed to nature-based activities, Art classes and physical activity opportunities which can be important ways to improve health and increase social connection, but BSP Link Workers do so much more. They often see older people who need practical support but don’t know where to turn, those living in inappropriate accommodation or who are living with long term conditions or are disabled, those struggling with hoarding or anxiety caused by the pandemic.
Our Link Workers also support people needing access to foodbanks, benefits, debt advice and employment. They work to empower people with autism, a learning disability, or sensory impairment to get the support that matters to them, integrating them into the community. Our Link Workers work with many people who are lonely or isolated. They may be local to Guernsey, or not. All this social prescribing work is done whilst focussing on what is strong in the person, rather than what is wrong.
While Bailiwick Social Prescribing aims to empower people to find non-medical solutions which can help improve their lives, the scheme cannot address the shortage of affordable housing for example. Reducing the impact of social factors also depends on the scheme’s partnership with Guernsey’s vital charities and community organisations which offer so much important quality practical and advocacy support. These organisations in turn depend on a sustainable source of funding to be able to do their important work for the whole community.