Earlier this year, we joined a national plan to improve health and wellbeing issues, Social Prescribing.
Social prescribing, sometimes referred to as community referral, is a means of enabling GPs, nurses, and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services.
We provide nine Link Workers to work closely with GP’s and other health professionals to help people take control and manage their health and wellbeing. Meet Sophie Henaughan, the Link Worker for South Stoke and East Meir as she tells you a bit more about the job role and how it works with people.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a compassionate people person, who is dedicated to helping people achieve their goals. Communication is one of if not the most important aspects of my professional life. I am motivated to be the best that I can be and be the same as the people I work with.
Give us an overview of your career so far
I started my career with the prison service working on different contracts, mobilising new projects, and working on resettlement and rehabilitation. I then moved to unemployment and focused on breaking the cycle of people finding work.
For the last four years, I have worked in mental health. I am also a qualified low-intensity CBT practitioner and have worked within IAPT services assessing and treating patients with mild to moderate mental health conditions.
Describe your current role in Brighter Futures
I am a Social Prescribing Link Worker – and started the role at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic!
It has been a surreal time, but an incredible experience. We had to adapt our working model to fit the developments in the world. Link Workers have made a difference to the lives of patients during the lockdown in Stoke-on-Trent – responding to vulnerable people.
As we all start to adapt to the new normal; the role will continue to change. It’s exciting to see where this role will go as social prescribing becomes an invaluable role of the National Health Service.
And describe briefly what Social Prescribing is
Social Prescribing enables healthcare professionals to refer patients to Link Workers who design a non-clinical social prescription to improve their health and wellbeing. The model helps with things like employment, housing, relationships, and debt.
We aim to reduce pressure on GP’s and allow patients to access a personalised service that is easily accessible. Social prescribing empowers patients to take control of their wellbeing – focusing on a ‘what matters to me’ approach. We connect people to community groups and statutory services for essential support.
And how does this differ from every other role you’ve had?
Social prescribing is a non-medical intervention to improve health and wellbeing. We are not offering psychological treatment or guidance on condition management.
We support improved access to medical interventions and strengthen the links between healthcare providers and community and voluntary services that can influence an individual’s health and wellbeing. These includes education, employment, welfare, and environmental matters.
Describe an average day for you?
Firstly, I catch-up on emails and process any incoming referrals for that day. Every day is different in this job. Typically, I might introduce patients to community groups, a new activity, or a local club.
On a typical day, we can advise on healthy lifestyle management, respite services, bereavement, social isolation, or supporting people accessing the workplace with a long-term condition. I have adapted to telephone and video consultations, only, due to COVID-19.
During lockdown I’ve been assisting GP’s in my PCN with their high-risk patients, doing weekly wellbeing calls to them.
What do you enjoy about the role?
It is a busy role and I enjoy the difference it makes!
I enjoy working with a fantastic team of healthcare professionals, third sector organisations, and of course the patients themselves, making a difference, and helping people gain quality of life.
The impact of social prescribing is phenomenal. It’s a very exciting time to be a Link Worker and I’m very proud to work in a role that is evolving and growing in the NHS.
How do you see the role growing, both wider and at Brighter Futures?
I enjoy being a part of the Social Prescribing team at Brighter Futures. It is an exciting time to be involved in as it continues to grow, and I hope to be able to promote it as much as I can.
And what is your biggest achievement so far?
I always try to be the best version of myself that I can be. I keep up to date with the latest services to ensure the patients I support get the correct care for their needs.
I am proud to have come into a new role, helped my cluster of GP practices to respond and support patients accordingly during the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of who has been scared, anxious, and apprehensive.
It is just a very powerful feeling.