Agenda item

Better Care Fund - Social Prescribing

Director of Children and Adult Services


The Director of Children and Adult Services submitted a report (previously circulated) detailing the outcome of the social prescribing testbed carried out under the Better Care Fund between 1 May 2017 and 30 April 2018.


The submitted report stated that around 130 people had been referred to the testbed with considerable variation in GP referrals.  Investment in the testbed was £93,000 and although three-month reviews indicated good levels of sustained achievement of outcomes, indications were that the current model was not cost effective.  Members noted that over a third of referrals were male and that the age range was wider then Better Care Fund intentions.

It was stated that the key objectives of the social prescribing testbed were to maximize identified Individual’s overall quality of life by supporting, signposting and connecting them with community groups and activity provision in their local area and to meet the identified needs that were unable to be met by community provision as currently commissioned. 


Members were advised that the introduction of the service was marketed to GP Practices and social work teams and a system for recording referrals and the goals set with people was designed and put in place using an existing computer system at the Local Authority and wellbeing navigators were provided with the relevant training.  The wellbeing navigators were four individuals from four organisations, namely 700 Club, MIND, DAD and Age UK.  Following a six month review it was clear that insufficient referrals were being made.


It was noted that Wellbeing Facilitation was key to new ways of working across health and social care and in Darlington pilots and initiatives were being tried and tested as Primary Care develops a hub approach in general practice.  The GP Federation, Primary Healthcare Darlington, will play a key role in these developments. 


The service has Better Care Fund investment of £180,000 and will have a single organisation model, benefitting from pulling referrals from patient lists via the frailty index ensuring that non-medical needs that contribute to future medical needs are met.


It is anticipated that wellbeing facilitators will engage in the pilots involving primary care approaches and that the Federation will play a pro-active role in engaging with all practices and relevant stakeholders to support relationship building and embedding the care co-ordination role with GPs, practice nurses and other practice staff. 

Discussion ensued on the low referral rates from Parkgate Surgery which it was felt was mainly due to a communications issue and/or the possible move of patients from that Practice to Clifton Road Practice.


The Chair stated that this Scrutiny Committee had always supported social prescribing and whilst disappointed that the project had failed, welcomed the lessons learned and the new proposed model.


It was confirmed that facilitators had the knowledge to signpost and refer to the correct place; and that the real work was to actually understand the person and investigate what their actual needs were in order to have more chance to succeed.


Members advised Scrutiny of several community groups they were involved in and it was suggested that they be included on the Directory of Organisations available to navigators.


Members raised concerns that it was difficult to reach some people who were socially isolated and that these people would need some form of encouragement to attend a community group or local social event.  It was also recognised that not all old people are frail and would like to be treat as an individual.


RESOLVED – (a) That the submitted report be noted.


(b) That a progress report on the new model be submitted to a future meeting of this Scrutiny Committee in six months’ time.


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