ECHAlliance member Elemental named as digital partner in £3M Big Lottery funded project

30th August 2018

Elemental named as digital partner in £3 million Big Lottery funded project aimed at tackling social isolation

Back in June,The Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum received the fantastic news that their joint bid with Scottish Communities for Health and Wellbeing  was successful in being awarded more than £3 million of National Lottery funding to run an innovative project to support patients whose wellbeing and quality of life are directly affected by mental health issues and social isolation.

We’re delighted to announce that Elemental has been selected as sole digital partner for the project, and will begin activating hubs throughout Northern Ireland and Scotland early next month.

“We couldn’t be prouder to be partnering with and supporting Brandywell and Bogside Forum, Healthy Living Centre Alliance and Scottish Communities for Health & Wellbeing on this exciting project. We know from previous experience and the fantastic results that have come from previous pilots with Brandywell and Bogside Forum and the Scottish ‘Out and About’ project that this project is not just going to be a success, it’s going to shine the spotlight on the incredible benefits that social prescribing can lend to health and wellbeing for all.” Jennifer Neff, Co Founder of Elemental Software

The three-year project will focus on adults across Northern Ireland and Scotland, and will work in partnership with 60 GP practices in partnership with the Healthy Living Centre Alliance and Scottish Communities for Health & Wellbeing.

Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum, Healthy Living Centre Alliance and Scottish Communities for Health and Wellbeing have forged a strong partnership to deliver an innovative Social Prescribing Project in Northern Ireland and Scotland over a three year period.

“Medical professionals can refer patients to community led health organisations who address and support non-clinical health needs by implementing social interventions.  It is anticipated that the project will have a significantly positive impact on people’s’ overall health and wellbeing across many communities in Northern Ireland and Scotland.” Danielle Keenan, Social Prescribing Project Manager, Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum

Building on past success

The National Lottery funding will help to build on a successful social prescribing pilot previously carried out by Elemental and Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum where GPs were able to refer patients to take part in community activities to reduce their isolation and dependence on medication.  The Out and About project in Scotland piloted social prescribing in 5 disadvantaged communities The project was hailed as a success by participants, primary health care staff and local communities.

Seamus Ward, General Manager of Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum explained how the project will work.

“Social prescribing acts as a link between the health service and the community and provides care and support to people that goes beyond medication.

 “For example, for people who are lonely or isolated, there is no medical intervention which can help with this, but being part of your community, going to clubs, being engaged with things you enjoy, can help. “Many GPs have patients who are making regular unnecessary appointments because they don’t know where else to go. So we are taking the pressure off the GPs and making more time for them to see people who need medical care. Through the pilot, GPs found that the number of people returning for non-medical care was being reduced. It’s less strain on their services, and waiting lists for appointments are being reduced.”

Seamus added:

“After three years we want to see a sustainable service which is integrated into what the GPs are doing. It’s great to achieve this positive impact for GPs and the health service but the most important thing to us is making a difference to peoples’ lives. We also believe that this will reduce health service spend in the long run.”

John Cassidy, Chair of Scottish Communities for Health and Wellbeing is delighted with the award.

“This exciting project will provide the opportunity to improve the lives of thousands of individuals for whom more traditional approaches have not had an lasting impact.  The project will be an investment in community led approaches to improving health and wellbeing in 30 communities across Northern Ireland and Scotland.  We hope it’s impact will influence key decision makers locally and nationally to continue to invest in social prescribing well beyond the timescale of the project”.

Julie Harrison, Big Lottery Fund NI Chair said:

“Thanks to National Lottery players this project will be able to make a big difference to people across Northern Ireland and Scotland. Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum are providing a valuable connection between the health service and the community, building on the strengths that already exist, to improve people’s’ lives.

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