As COVID-19 lockdown restrictions begin to ease Integrated Plus has been looking at ways in which we can adapt to meet people’s needs. A large percentage of the people that we work with have long-term health conditions, meaning that they have not left their home for several months due to shielding. Many live alone or do not have family and friends close by so their loneliness and need for social connection has been exacerbated by restrictions.
As we are now in spring and the sunnier weather is approaching, we have seen an increase in people wanting to leave their homes, for social connection, exercise and sunshine, however they lack the confidence to walk out of the front door. Integrated Plus staff have been supporting these people by doing supported walks aimed at supporting both physical and mental health. Here are some recent examples:
Mrs A is an elderly lady who lives alone and told me that she has not left her home independently in nearly 2 years. She told me that her goal is to be able to walk to her local corner shop, but she lacks the confidence to go on her own. Following this conversation, I accompanied Mrs A to her local corner shop on two occasions. Since those two walks Mrs A has been on a further two walks to her local shop with her gardener and cleaner. Being able to walk to the shop means that Mrs A has reconnected with the shop assistants and is gaining confidence to go back groups that she attended prior to lockdown.
Miss B is a young girl who has autism, since the start of the pandemic she has not left her home independently. During a telephone conversation Miss B expressed to me that she wanted to walk into her local town but lacked confidence. I accompanied Miss B on a supported walk into her local town and visited several book shops and showed her where her local library was based. Miss B has since walked independently into her local town and has visited the local library to enquire about joining a book club.
Mrs C is a recently bereaved lady with multiple health conditions. Due to her health and restrictions, she has not been able to leave her home in several months. Mrs C expressed to me that she is keen to start exercising by walking around her small carpark. I met Mrs C for a walk around her carpark and she said she enjoyed getting out of the house for a chat, exercise and some vitamin D! We are still working with Mrs C and hope to connect her with a volunteer befriender who can offer long-term walks and companionship.
As we emerge from COVID-19 into what feels like a different world, social prescribing plays an important role in supporting the governments COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing recovery action plan (April 2021) and interventions such as connecting people with their community, physical activity and access to outdoor spaces play a key role in improving people’s physical and mental health.
Rebecca Woodall – Senior Social Prescribing Link Worker (Halesowen PCN)