What is social prescribing? And what do Social Prescribing workers do? We asked Keith Hofgartner from the North Bucks PCN about his role as Social Prescribing Lead.
How long have you worked in healthcare?
About three years ago, I started working part time as a ‘Befriending Coordinator’ in what was known at that time as the ‘Over 75 Team’. Now, it is called the Patient Support Service.
Why did you choose this role in the practice?
My role has evolved from the Patient Support Service – a service assisting individuals to stay independent in their own homes together with a Telephone Support Service we have been running with the help of volunteers. So, the transition to the Social Prescribing Lead role was a very natural move for me.
What is a typical day like in your role? What specific things do you help patients with?
Currently, I manage twenty six Telephone Support Volunteers. In addition, I liaise with the 400+ voluntary organisations that we have in our area and ensure that we can work with them.
Where there are ‘gaps’ in activities we can work together with other bodies. For example, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Community Impact team. Or, we assist the groups directly to look at how they can form new groups or grow existing ones so we can grow together.
Once we have worked with the patient to consider a plan to engage with these organisations, we can look for help to allow them to attend and participate and again this maybe by working with other agencies such as Prevention Matters or using other volunteers of our own.
Do you have any other responsibilities in the practice? If so, what are they?
I have taken on the responsibility of creating a website for our Patient Support Service. Here, we provide information on what we do (and where), and information links to national and local support organisations. There is also a database of Social Activities within the North Bucks Area.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
Working with my volunteers (and my colleagues of course!) . It always amazes me the level of support that our volunteers and voluntary organisations give in the community. To be able to bring that together with our patients is most rewarding.
What do you wish people knew about you/your role?
Only that it is now even more important that we address social isolation as it continues to effect more and more vulnerable people in society and by funding this role the NHS see the significance in keeping people well and independent in their own homes and social activity is a significant part of doing this.