1 April 2022

Patient who often ‘wouldn’t speak to anyone for days’ praises hospital Social Prescribing service for impact on wellbeing

An 89 year old woman has praised a service at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which refers patients to non-medical support.

Social prescribing is being piloted at the Trust enabling health and social care professionals to refer patients to link with local community, non-clinical services, to help meet their wellbeing needs.

There are a range of services available to patients such as befriending services, mental health support, pet care, financial advice/support, art classes, walking or exercise groups, and volunteering opportunities.

Celia Laughton from Crookes, was referred to the befriending service which is provided by local charity SCCCC, who have been supporting isolated, lonely older people since 1966, after staff realised that she was feeling lonely and isolated during Celia’s calls to the telephone helpline for the Community Nursing Service.

Tracey Castledine, Clinical Operational Manager for Single Point of Access at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “After spending some time listening to Mrs Laughton it was clear she was isolated and feeling a bit lonely, so together we discussed options that may help and she agreed for our social prescriber to refer her to a befriending service, which offers telephone support to lonely people particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Celia was matched to a 19-year-old befriender Darcey, who is a university student currently studying French and Spanish. Despite the 70-year age gap, the unlikely duo have enjoyed many calls, sharing experiences of travel and their hobbies and both looking forward to meeting face-to-face in the near future.

Celia, who is turning 90 in June said: “The befriending service has made a huge difference. I have been trying to keep safe because of COVID-19 so only really go out for hospital appointments, and I don’t have children or friends or family nearby so sometimes I wouldn’t speak to anyone for days. The calls have given me something to look forward to.”

Tracey added: “We understand that many things can affect a patient’s health and wellbeing including feeling lonely, being isolated, stress, money worries, and even housing problems. The social prescribing service aims to identify patients and carers who may benefit and point them in the direction of services that they might not otherwise know about or have considered.”

“Nationally some early evaluations of Social Prescribing have shown reduced GP and A&E attendances and admissions. This is because if patients/carers are better supported in their everyday lives they will be less likely to need to access medical services and in turn this will help to ease current pressures on the NHS.”

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