Tony’s social prescribing story : Identifying community resources

Tony is a Care Coordinator working in a PCN in rural Southwest England. Tony shares his experience of identifying resources in the community to meet the needs of his clients with dementia.

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    Tony’s social prescribing story : Avoiding over dependency of clients on social prescribers

    Tony is a Care Coordinator working in a PCN in rural Southwest England. As part of a social prescribing team, Tony shares his experience of identifying resources in the community to meet the needs of his clients with dementia.

    When it comes to finding support for clients, Tony usually starts off with a bit of research online to look for evidence of effectiveness of certain types of support. For example, if the client is interested in getting active, Tony suggests:

    “…looking online for the evidence base in the literature. The kind of thing that I would love as a social prescriber is to have the knowledge that when I see somebody, I can say – oh, by the way, it is evidence based- These are the top five exercises or kind of activities that you could do that are proven to be good for good brain health”.

    Tony then tries to identify who in the community offers that activity. This could be done online. Tony’s experience is that in most cases:

    “Online there is a directory in which whole organisations put what they do, when they do it, and how they do it”.

    However, there are caveats to this.
    Tony recognises that not everyone is advertising online, and that even when they do, information provided online might be not up to date.
    He finds that:

    “It’s difficult to keep on top of things because not everything is very well promoted. So, you won’t find out unless you go and look at places in person to check that they’re actually running how they said they were running on their website and they’re not doing something entirely different”.

    Going in person has several other advantages, including giving the social prescriber the confidence that what they are proposing to their client is effective. In Tony’s words:

    “It means you can sell the service to people you’re talking to because you’ve actually experienced it”.

    Another advantage is that the social prescriber will be able to build a network and trust with community organisations, something that is particularly valuable with underserved communities:

    “Getting your face known, getting people to understand what it is that you’re doing and that they might see you more often if you’re bringing more of your clients there. It’s just good to build that link and to build that network”.

    Through building person connections, Tony suggests that he is also able to find out about provisions that were not advertised on organisations’ websites.
    For example, by talking directly with people in an organisation, Tony once found out that while the website stated that they:

    “… could not offer transport for everybody, they could find ways and make budget lines work so that they could support an individual in exceptional circumstances, but that was reliant upon me having an in-depth conversation with the people in the organisation”.

    Another strategy that Tony employs is to sign up to social prescribers’ associations and professional bodies:

    “The National Academy of Social Prescribers (NASP) have been doing a monthly newsletter with information on initiatives and activities that they send out to subscribers. So, maybe that’s a practical tip. Get yourself signed up to get notifications from NASP, or the National Association of Link Workers”.

    Finally, whenever he can, Tony is very keen on taking part in events organised for the social prescribing workforce:

    “I’m always really grateful when there’s regional conferences, where we can all actually get all in the same room and be able to network and make those connections because like I say, it’s so down to that personal relationship”.


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