31 Jul 2023
Greater Manchester Medicines Optimisation Community of Practice Focusing on Social Prescribing
The key to supporting people to live well is asking ‘What matters to you?’ not ‘What is the matter with you?’
Charlotte Leonhardsen, Social Prescribing lead for NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care, highlights the importance of supporting people living with pain with ‘more than medicine’
Only 10% of what makes us healthy is linked to formal health care. The rest is everything else going on in our life such as good work, access to transport, our family and friends, food, housing, and our financial situation.
We know there is a range of things that get in the way of us living to our full potential. Sometimes it’s work, responsibilities, money, and time. For others, it might be a long-term health condition or living with pain. These factors add additional barriers to living our life well; worries about our finances, isolation, and less energy to do the things we’d like to do.
I was very fortunate to be able to talk about Social Prescribing at the Greater Manchester Medicines Optimisation Community of Practice event on the 12th July 2023. Being in a (virtual) room with a variety of people, all with the same aim- to improve the quality of life for people despite them living with pain and/or on multiple prescriptions – was really energising.
Social Prescribing is a person-centered approach that looks at “What is strong with you” not, what is wrong with you. Social Prescribing Link Workers know their communities very well, and the local information, support, and activities on offer. They are experts at connecting people to the things that make them feel better.
Acknowledging that people can be supported with ‘more than medicine’, recognises that people living with pain might not be able to work full time, for example, or work at all and therefore feel financial strain. It also acknowledges that it is hard to find the energy to get out to see friends or participate in activities, and if you do, you might pay a high price in the days that follow.
Having to prioritise where you spend energy, and how much pain you are willing to accept, means it can be easy to become defined by a condition and what it allows you to do.
But, people are so much more than their health condition….
A Social Prescribing Link Worker gives people time and space to explore what matters to them and will support people to identify activities and services that can support them to live a more satisfying life, with them in the driver’s seat.
It could be that finding a way to move more, without causing further pain and discomfort, is a priority, or support getting access to financial advice to ease money stresses, or transport to maintain a social life. Social Prescribing Link Workers can support those who have become isolated to find like-minded people to connect with. They will give as much or as little support as needed, to get people to where they want to be. This could be from just sharing information about a community group to going together if that feels right.
As Akeela, who was supported by a Social Prescribing Link Worker in Bolton said:
“I lost my job as a healthcare assistant because of back pain and was also trying to look after relatives. I was so stressed and depressed. My link worker helped me get a volunteer role at a charity. I’m very happy now. I’ve got my confidence back and feel like I’m part of the community.”