East Sussex Social Prescribing Pathway Project
What is Social Prescribing?
Social Prescribing is a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services, typically provided by voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations.
Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way and support individuals to take greater control of their own health.
The Government has committed to expand access to social prescription services to all GP practices nationally by 2023.
About the East Sussex Social Prescribing Pathway Project
Over the years, a range of ‘social prescribing’ services have been commissioned and developed by statutory and Voluntary Community Sector (VCS) providers across East Sussex.
Models include GP and health professional-linked care navigators, VCS mental health community connectors/navigators, proactive care practitioners, health coaches and locality link workers.
Alongside these, there are wider community-based health and wellbeing advice and guidance services that GPs can refer to as part of a social prescription.
The range of social prescribing services in East Sussex all align to health, social care and public health priority areas. However, there has not previously been a single commissioning or service development strategy for the county.
An unintended consequence of this has resulted in a level of confusion for referrers, GPs, clients, carers, providers and staff. There are also client groups whose needs are unmet.
Since late 2017, a core group of VCS agencies already providing GP interfacing social prescribing services (Southdown, Care for the Carers, Age UK East Sussex and SCDA), with the support of 3VA, have worked with statutory partners to consider the best way to align and improve the effectiveness of social prescribing.
The outcome of this has been the commitment to embark on a two-year project, from January 2019, to create an integrated East Sussex Social Prescribing Pathway.
Key aims of the project are to:
- agree a consistent definition of social prescribing services and roles
- establish a consistent referral and support pathway
- develop shared impact measures
- systemise workforce resources and competences across VCS and statutory services, and
- use evidence and learning to shape the redesign and commissioning of future services.
Social Prescribing Project Manager
The VCS is the lead for the project but is supported by a dedicated Social Prescribing Project Manager, Carla Hawkins. Carla is a central point of contact for both statutory and VCS as they deliver the project outcomes to develop the East Sussex Social Prescribing Pathway.
Voluntary Community Sector involvement
Although the project is led by a core group of five VCS organisations, the aim is to adopt a ‘generous leadership’ approach to capacity build within the wider VCS sector and offer opportunities for a wide range of VCS providers to be linked into the Pathway.
Primary Care Networks
Across the country, GP practices have begun working together and with community mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local areas in Primary Care Networks.
Primary Care Networks build on the core of current primary care services and enable greater provision of proactive, personalised, coordinated and more integrated health and social care.
NHS Plans for 2018-19 set out the ambition for CCGs to encourage every GP practice to be part of a local Primary Care Network so that these cover the whole country as far as possible by the end of 2018/19.
Primary Care Networks will be based on GP registered lists, typically serving communities of around 30,000 to 50,000. They should be small enough to provide the personal care valued by both patients and GPs, but large enough to have impact and economies of scale through better collaboration between practices and others in the local health and social care system.