Apple icon

New roles in Leeds: Wellbeing Coordinators

There are many non-medical things that affect our health and wellbeing, such as having social support networks, a sense of purpose and community, and access to safe housing and food.

Our GPs work hard to keep us medically well, but in many cases they simply don’t have the time or resource to explore these other things that have a huge impact on our health and wellbeing.

A new Wellbeing Coordinator role has been set up by NHS Leeds North Clinical Commissioning Group to help people access this type of non-medical support and improve their quality of life. This approach is part of the Social Prescribing model of care. Social prescribing is a non-medical, community-based intervention that offers the opportunity to provide alternatives or enhancements to primary care. It is a more holistic approach to supporting a person’s health and wellbeing.

There are currently two Wellbeing Coordinators working in Leeds, based in two GP practices in the Leeds North area. If a GP in one of those practices is concerned about a patient, they can refer them to the Wellbeing Coordinator.Leisa Batkin, Wellbeing Coordinator at St Martin’s Practice, describes her role as being an extension of the GP practice. Whereas GPs can write a prescription for tablets, she can write a prescription for social care. She says,

“It can be for absolutely anything and my door is open for anybody in the GP practice that needs support.”

 

Leisa Wellbeing Coordinator

-Leisa, Wellbeing Coordinator

Much of that support comes from third sector community groups, which are an often untapped resource that can provide a vast spectrum of support.

“Because I’m linked in with all parties, I can feed back to each of them; that makes it quite a robust, proactive system.”

Leisa has been a Wellbeing Coordinator for a year and is already seeing a positive impact with the people she works with. In one case, a patient that was referred to her was apprehensive about going to hospital to have preventative surgery, as there was no one available to look after the most important thing in her life – her dog. Leisa was able to connect her with a charity that took care of her dog so she could go into hospital; not only did this reduce the likelihood of a future emergency hospital admission, but it also greatly improved her quality of life.

Another patient, an asylum seeker, was in unsecure housing, had limited access to public funding, and had poor mental and physical health. Leisa was able to refer her to various services, including English language courses and technical college. Within eight months, the patient can now speak English, is living in secure housing, and works in a voluntary capacity at a local charity. This person is now an active member of their community and has greatly improved mental and physical health.

Leisa loves her job and says,

“When someone realises they need help and works towards overcoming their obstacles, that self-actualisation is a powerful thing.”

Social prescribing and the Wellbeing Coordinator role are part of a transformative approach to care that relieves pressure on the NHS and supports people to connect with their communities to lead the healthiest lives possible.

With early success of the project, there are plans to increase the number of Wellbeing Coordinators in the Leeds North area by early next year. The Leeds South and East area is also developing this model of care, and people in Leeds West can access these services through the Patient Empowerment Programme