Here you’ll find out more about how Ways to Wellness works and how to make referrals.
- ▶ How does it work?
GPs, nurses and hospital and community healthcare professionals can make referrals to the Ways to Wellness service. Each GP practice has a dedicated team of named Link Workers. Within a week the patient will be contacted by their Link Worker to arrange a time for their first meeting, which will take place in their local area.
Over the following months the Link Worker will support and motivate the individual to produce and work through an agreed action plan to address the barriers they face to confidently manage their LTCs and improve their quality of life.
The role of the Link Worker is critical. There are already excellent services and activities to support patients with LTCs in both the NHS, other parts of the public sector and the voluntary and community sector, but we know that many patients are not confidently managing their LTC or accessing available support. The Link Worker addresses this.
Link Workers will help people individually to take more control of things that affect their health, in order to sustain more healthy lifestyles, for example to:
- Adopt and sustain more healthy behaviours (more exercise, better diet, stop smoking, drink less alcohol)
- Access specialist health services that can support them with their condition (for example to increase take up of the diabetes clinic services)
- Get involved with local groups and activities that can help them socialise and be more active
- Help them deal with aspects of their life that have a negative effect on their ability to manage their LTC such as money worries or relationship problems
- ▶ Why is it needed?
- Over 15 million people in England suffer from long-term conditions (LTCs)
- People who live with LTCs experience poorer health outcomes and reduced quality of life
- They are proportionately higher users of health services (GP appointments, prescription drugs, outpatient services and in-patient hospital bed days)
- 55% of GP appointments are with patients with one or more LTCs
- 70% of national NHS spend is related to LTCs and this is projected to rise in the future
Evidence from community health interventions, both locally and nationally, has shown that a contributory factor to health and wellbeing is being linked into a local community and having reduced social isolation.
- ▶ Will it work?
There is a growing body of evidence that social prescribing services that support patients to more confidentially manage their long-term conditions and improve their quality of life have positive impacts on patients’:
- Quality of life
- Ability to self-manage their conditions
- Lifestyles and behaviours
- Clinical outcomes
- Use of mainstream health services
The expected outcomes from the Ways to Wellness service include:
- Improvements in patient self-management
- Improvements in patient’s health compared with predictions
- Reduction in hospital visits and bed days
- Reduced visits to GPs
- Reduced reliance on prescription drugs for some conditions (such as those for depression)
Relevant evidence and publications
A review of the evidence considering whether it is worthwhile to support self-management
An independent evaluation of the Health Foundation's Co-creating Health improvement programme
The People Powered Health approach: what investments would it require and what benefits could it bring?
- ▶ Who is Ways to Wellness for?
Ways to Wellness is for people aged 40 to 74 years with certain long-term health conditions who attend GP practices within the pre-existing NHS Newcastle West Clinical Commissioning Group area (now part of Newcastle Gateshead CCG).
The eligible long-term health conditions are:
- Chronic breathing difficulties (COPD) or Asthma
- Diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2)
- Heart Disease
- Thinning of the bones (osteoporosis)
- Any of the above with depression and/or anxiety
Ways to Wellness' Chair Chris Drinkwater and Senior Link Worker Louise Cooke recently took part in a BMJ podcast on Social Prescribing.Read more
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