Digital Social Prescribing Movement Strengthens Response to COVID19

30th March 2020

This is the first in a series of blogs that focuses on some of the inspirational ways that communities are using digital to help them respond to COVID19 across the UK and Ireland.

There are really uplifting things happening across the country where people and organisations are coming together to overcome the challenge we face.

We’re shining a spotlight on all the social prescribing Link Workers, community, voluntary and social enterprises, domiciliary care workers, clinicians, health and social care workers, local businesses, housing associations, local authorities and others who are using digital to help them to design and implement their plans. 

With non face-to-face interventions becoming the new normal, we have all been forced to change how we work and digital is playing a massive part in this. 

We’re seeing many areas using digital for:

  • Communication between health and social care teams and patients
  • Recruitment of volunteers
  • Mapping all the different types of support that’s available 
  • Creation of support plans
  • Monitoring the wellbeing of a cohort of people
  • Finding out what people want and what is working well 
  • Recording who has had which kind of support and prioritising those who need it
  • Sharing of online resources such as exercise videos, singing groups and meditation
  • Online debt advice
  • Understanding where the gaps are in both delivery and capacity of teams
  • Measuring the overall impact of community planning and the effectiveness of coordinated delivery 

4 ways that areas are using digital to tackle COVID 19 

We spoke to 4 of our customers in different parts of the UK about how they are using Elemental to better connect their communities during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Bureau (Glossop)

Following Covid-19 public health advice, the Bureau in Tameside & Glossop suspended all group and home visits for the safety of clients, volunteers and staff. 

The community wellbeing charity are using Elemental to help focus all efforts on coordinating the support of their community during this unprecedented period of worry and disruption.

The Bureau are using Elemental to help them coordinate referrals from their local neighbourhood resilience hub (an integrated team of district nurses, social workers, GP’s and the local hospital NHS trust (T&G ICFT). Using the platform to track people and onwardly link them into local volunteers and community groups offering support such as Glossopdale Foodbank, and telephone befriending. 

Mobilising the people of Glossop is key to the work being done by the Bureau, as they are in need of volunteers to help making social telephone calls to people in isolation, distributing food and medication, and assembling food packages.

Sophie Glinka, Chief Officer at the Bureau said: ‘Elemental has allowed us to quickly adapt our approach to the Covid-19 outbreak, keeping track of people needing support due to the virus as well as the wealth of community initiatives and volunteers out there that can help us support our community. Using the system will help us to understand demand and pressure points as well as evidencing our response after things have settled down.’

Care Merseyside (Knowsley): New Intervention – Phone a Friend

Care Merseyside is a social prescribing charity based in Knowsley and a partner of the Dr Maassarani & Partners (Tower Hill). They have redesigned the delivery of their schedule of activities, which previously involved things like creative writing classes, exercise and drama classes, and are contacting all their beneficiaries to offer support. They quickly set up a new programme intervention to adapt to the current crisis called ‘Phone a Friend – You’ll Never Walk Alone’. 

Their team of Link Workers are working remotely and are calling those most vulnerable in their community on a daily basis for a chat and help with any needs, such as delivering groceries.

By using Elemental, the Care Merseyside team identified up to 300 vulnerable people, and have called them to see if they would wish to be supported by this service.

Each of the Care Merseyside team are using Elemental to find out how the person is feeling and is using a validated measurement tool to measure social isolation levels, which will show a baseline to how isolated the vulnerable people are. The impact of the service will be tracked using Elemental, and this score will be reviewed in a week or two to see if the volunteer system has helped them feel less isolated.

Care Merseyside have contacted local schools to offer their staff and pupils to get involved. The aim of this initiative is to provide enrichment activities for pupils to take part in while working from home, such as letter writing skills and arts and crafts skills. One school came back thanking Care Merseyside for contacting them and described the initiative as “incredible”. 

Cathy Connelly, CEO of Care Merseyside said that “volunteering in itself is good for health and well-being and will give purpose and focus to a community in fear and uncertainty”.

Ms Connelly continued: “Using Elemental we have set up two new interventions; befriending services and volunteering services. We were then able to add the volunteers into one intervention, whilst also identifying and adding in those who are looking for support.

“We are now able to take social isolation scores for those who were ringing up, which can then be used to produce reports to measure impacts. 

“So far we have contacted over 100 people, and what we have actually found is quite staggering; 7 in 100 people want a befriending service. This community is heavily populated by families and friends of vulnerable people, so most are lucky enough to have somebody who can help them. But they are all very appreciative of us contacting them. 

“However, we are still able to draw down data from that and show a positive outcome as a result of isolation – that people do have support.”

Enable (Wandsworth) – “It’s nice to know someone is thinking of us”

Similar to Care Merseyside, Link Workers at Enable, an organisation which provides leisure and cultural services for the benefit of local communities in Wandsworth, are now proactively calling people who have been identified through Elemental as being vulnerable and isolated, to perform well being check ups. 

During the initial call, Link Workers offer support and ensure people are safe and able to access vital supplies such as food and prescriptions. 

They encourage people to stay as well as possible by keeping physically and mentally active and maintaining social connections remotely.

The team is working in partnership with the local voluntary sector response and are referring or signposting people to support or resources when needed. 

The Link Workers are playing key roles in ensuring that people who are isolated are connected with the amazing practical support that is being provided in the community.

Nick Atkins of Enable (Wandsworth) said: “GP practices have begun identifying which patients would benefit from support and have started referring them to Link Workers via Elemental. In just two days, we have already provided vital support to people struggling to access food supplies. Several people we have contacted have also said ‘it’s nice to know someone is thinking of us’. “The use of Elemental has allowed us to provide this service remotely from GP practices with all Link Workers working from home.” 

Merton Voluntary Service Council 

Merton has always been an area with really strong partnership working between local authority, health, community and voluntary sector and housing partners. GP and London Regional Clinical Lead, Mohan Sekeram has been a major part of the coordinated approach to community health. He uploaded a video on Twitter to show how social prescribing Link Worker, Ray Hautot, at Wide Way Medical Centre is using Elemental to identify vulnerable patients, contact them and connect them to vital services during Covid-19.  

Next week we will focus on more areas and share the learning around how digital is helping make a difference to those designing, delivering and measuring the effectiveness of community plans for COVID. If you would like to share how you are using digital then please get in touch. 

If Elemental can help you to co-design, deliver and scale your COVID19 plans, contact us or go to our website for more information. 

Recent posts