NNUH appoints Social Prescribers to elective pathway team

NNUH is the first Trust in the East of England to appoint Social Prescribers to its elective pathway workforce and is already seeing the benefits to patients as well as reduced bed stays, freeing up much needed capacity.

Patients on the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals (NNUH) elective waiting list, who are due to have a knee or hip operation, and those who need support upon discharge or to prevent an unnecessary admission can now count on the help of two Social Prescribing Link Workers.

Social Prescribing promotes a personalised approach to patients’ care to identify “what matters to them,” in their whole life and not just their medical conditions, and to provide early interventions, support, and to promote independence and self-management linking to other community- based organisations.

It is understood that more than 30% of patients do not just need medical help and taking a holistic personalised approach to their condition can help them manage it more effectively, which can have a positive impact on their lives.

To help support this, and in collaboration with Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB) NNUH has appointed William Robb, who works in Trauma and Orthopaedics, and Charlotte Evans, who works alongside the discharge team to address non-clinical concerns that might disrupt patients’ hospital pathway and recovery.

The work of the Social Prescribing Link Workers is creative and varied from suggesting how to take on more healthy lifestyles, to referring people to voluntary and community organisations for financial and wellbeing support and making important links to primary care as well as arranging for furniture to be moved so a patient can return home safely

Charlotte has spent many years working within the voluntary services department at the hospital and in the community for Age UK. She is based in the Discharge Hub, working in the social prescribing team who take around 30 referrals a month, across the whole of Norfolk and Waveney. She works collaboratively as part of a wider team of six Social Prescribing Link Workers covering the region’s acute hospitals for the Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System (ICS).

She said: “My role is different to the normal social prescribing route as I can access a small amount of NHS money, called a ‘One-Off Personal Health Budget’ (OOPHB) to support the patient and their family to get people home safely and remain in their usual place of care.”

She added: “In my role I often need to think outside the box and find quick and creative solutions for patients in a very short period of time. I have personalised conversations with patients and their families/carers to ensure they are part of a shared decision-making process around discharge.”

“This can have a big impact on patient flow, which is crucial in the current situation. On average our team of Social Prescribing Link Workers are saving on average 80 bed stays per month and prevent seven visits to ED across the county through admission avoidance.

William, who started his new role in November, helps patients who have a hip or knee condition and are waiting for their surgery. He has four years’ experience working for the Salvation Army delivering person-centred, holistic support.

He said: “I have meaningful conversations with patients around all their non-clinical needs, from finances to mental wellbeing, that could lead to further admissions or a postponement of surgical treatment.”

“Patients might have severely lost muscle-tone before their surgeries and have, as a result, become very limited in their mobility and house-bound. Others might lack ability or motivation to carry out daily tasks. I help them access support in the community, for example local fitness services and wellbeing groups. In other cases, I also refer patients to organisations that tackle isolation and loneliness.

“Through conversations I can better understand patients’ individual goals and create personalised care and support plans. This is reviewed after two weeks to make additional arrangements if more support is required to help them achieve their health and wellbeing outcomes.”