Northumbria Healthcare is prescribing a dose of social medicine in a bid to improve health and wellbeing.
Today is the first international Social Prescribing Day, aimed at encouraging people to focus on improving their health, without always seeking a solely clinical remedy.
Social prescribing is about treating the person, not just the illness.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust provides community support and services aimed at tackling issues such as mental health and obesity but is aiming to go further.
For instance, it now offers a volunteer-led befriending service. This nationally-recognised, programme is run through the trust’s own charity Bright.
It brings young people of school age together with those in need for a chat, a walk and a laugh.
Thanks to local charity WAG & Co, the trust can now arrange dog walks for many of its patients, encouraging them to stay active and connected.
It is in huge demand in the community and soon to arrive on hospital wards across the area.
Judith Stonebridge, consultant in public health at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “I am delighted that we are supporting Social Prescribing Day. It is fantastic news for our patients and shows just how innovative our staff are. By helping patients in this way it conveys a sense of belonging, of purpose and, best of all, dignity.
“I have seen first-hand how a simple volunteer role has changed a person’s life, giving them a reason to get better as well as the means.
“We know that loneliness and isolation can have a negative impact on health and many of our patients may be experiencing these issues, Never underestimate the power of a cup of tea and a chat, they are some of the most powerful things out there.”
Northumbria Healthcare is also soon to launch It’s all about you, a campaign designed to ensure patients and their families have access – in plain English – to the information that really matters when using the NHS and helping them to be in control of their care.
This will include tips on how to use services and on getting the best out a consultation or appointment.