Partnership working to reduce isolation and improve wellbeing
Gloucestershire County Council's village and community agents service and Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group social prescribing service could be merged to provide a new streamlined service next year.
The county's village and community agents formed in 2012 and are employed by the Gloucestershire Rural Community Council (GRCC) with funding from the county council.
There are currently 38 part-time village agents working around the county to help older people feel more independent, secure, and cared for, and to have a better quality of life. With agents living close to the communities in which they work they know the villages and people well and can help identify needs within their area.
The county-wide village agents scheme in Gloucestershire has been praised for its work and is regularly approached by other rural counties wishing to adopt a similar scheme.
On 16th November, cabinet will be asked to approve continued investment of village and community agents service and combining it with social prescribing service to link people to local support.
There are lots of thriving and vibrant communities across the county, however some people are not benefiting from the support available and feel isolated. Whilst some people often consult their GP about this, there is not a medical solution.
Both social prescribing and village and community agents act as a signpost to people for local groups and community services. Over time, these two separate services have overlapped.
The new service model will reduce confusion and duplication of support.
Both services currently help strengthen communities and people to care for themselves and each other.
Cllr Dorcas Binns, cabinet member for older people, said: "Village and community agents do a wonderful job in communities across Gloucestershire.
"They provide a fantastic link to help make sure people get the services they need. By working together with the NHS we can expand the services they provide, and protect their role into the future."
If approved, GCCG will tender to combine the two existing services into one delivery model, and will look for the services to start from June 2017.