Community Wellbeing Service
Community based approaches to promoting health and wellbeing and preventing illness have been developing in recent years. Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) has previously commissioned a Village and Community Agents service which provided support to older people to remain independent in their community, by connecting them with services or community resources. Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (GCCG) piloted a ‘social prescribing’ service in 2016 which aimed to connect those presenting at primary care with non-medical needs to sources of support within their community. Both projects highlighted the significant impact of providing a community based intervention early in order to prevent the need for formal health or social care services and maintain personal independence.
In October 2017 GCC Public Health and GCCG jointly commissioned a new service which integrated the Village and Community Agent and Social Prescribing Services. The service was informed by learning from both previous services as well as the growing evidence base around social prescribing models and asset based approaches across the country. The service can support anyone over the age of 16 and aims to improve quality of life of individuals and increase their knowledge, skills and confidence to enable them to take control of their wellbeing, live independently and improve their health outcomes. The service does this by providing a range of support from ‘light touch’ signposting to community groups or services through to holistic 1:1 support, taking into consideration the wider needs of the individual. The service is countywide and delivered by five providers who each have a local presence in one district of the County.
The service draws on the strengths and capacity of local communities and aims to develop this through its locality presence and knowledge of the local area and capacity within it.
The service is still very new, however evidence of positive outcomes is already apparent:
Sarah* was referred to the Community Wellbeing Service due to her low level depression and anxiety. Her anxiety had lead to her becoming socially isolated and she had not left the house for 12 weeks. The Community Wellbeing Service was able to help her by visiting her at her home, discussing the issues she was experiencing and developing a stepped plan. With support of the service, she found out about baby groups in her local community and developed confidence to attend these. Sarah’s confidence increased which led her to applying for a college course. She now attends college five days a week and is much more confident in engaging in the community and has developed a supportive network. Sarah still experiences depression and anxiety however she is now better able to manage this and is making positive steps towards achieving her goals.
“I’m definitely more in control of my life now. I feel a lot better within myself, my depression has not gone but it is definitely more manageable.”
*NB Names have been changed.
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