A new team of “social prescribers” have come into place across Angus to help point adults in the direction of services vital to their health and wellbeing.
The eight strong team will be based in GP practices throughout the district and will give information and advice on work issues, finances, social isolation and loneliness.
Employed by Voluntary Action Angus, the social prescribers will also be able to highlight other community resources including activities and volunteering.
The expansion of the scheme follows a successful Forfar pilot project in the holistic approach to helping patients take greater control of their own health.
VAA deputy chief executive, Hayley Mearns said: “Social prescribing is such a valuable service and it is a privilege for a third sector organisation to be able to deliver this to the communities of Angus.
“Along with the Health and Social Care Partnership, we have witnessed the results of social prescribing first-hand though a pilot project and we’re absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to roll this out throughout the county.”
Dr Nico Grunenberg, a GP at Ravenswood Surgery in Forfar, said, “Having social prescribers available in my practice has been extremely valuable.
“Patients often saw me with mixture of issues. Many of these were not medical, but were having a big impact on their health such as housing, financial and employment problems.
“With the social prescribers in my team, we are now able to help patients to overcome some of these hurdles and look towards the future.”
Angus Health and Social Care Partnership interim chief officer, Gail Smith said: “This is an important and valuable development not only for the third sector but for the whole community of Angus.
“Social prescribing is available for everyone. If people feel they could do with an extra bit of support I would encourage them to seek help.”
Patients can access the service through a healthcare professional or self-referral.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic the majority of appointments with social prescribers are currently being offered over the phone.
The VAA involvement in the Angus scheme is an extension of the community referral programmes which have been used widely by GPs and care professionals over a number of years to direct people to local, non-clinical services.
In Dundee, a scheme allowing city doctors to prescribe fresh air and spending time in nature was given a recent funding boost following its early success.
There had been mixed opinions on the pilot “green health prescriptions” programme, but after positive feedback from patients and public health bodies it is to be extended after securing a £21,000 grant to continue funding a green health development officer post.
Prescriptions can include walking, cycling, tai chi and yoga in groups.