Oldham Council

Oldham Council

Oldham Social Prescribing Innovation Partnership

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives

The Oldham Social Prescribing Innovation Partnership is a pioneering £1.1m three-year programme on behalf of Oldham Cares (our integrated care organisation) led by a local consortium of voluntary and community organisations:

•The commissioning model is one of the first for the public sector in England, drawing power from the social value act to focus on innovating and iterating the service model through coproduction with partners and residents to get the best service and offer possible to meet residents’ needs.

•The consortia of voluntary, community faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) partners includes Action Together (lead), Mind, Age UK, Positive Steps and Altogether Better. It works in partnership with local health and care partners particularly Oldham Cares and Oldham Council.

•The objectives are to; improve the health and wellbeing for people in Oldham through ‘more than medical’ care and support, build upon community capacity, reduce pressure on the health and care system.

•The aim is to develop a social prescribing approach linking residents who have ‘more than medical’ needs e.g. social isolation, loneliness, low level mental health. The model places community development and sustainability at the heart of the work

What are the key achievements?

• The Innovation Partnership has brought together existing local organisations in a new partnership, this has created a shared space where they are encouraged to build stronger referral pathways and enable more collaboration by removing competing system or service metrics or targets.

• The social prescribing model has been operating for 7 months and has supported almost 300 people to date, connecting them to local activities such as walking groups, sewing groups or coffee mornings, or helping them navigate other public services such as welfare and housing.

• A care champion model has also been developed, empowering patients to develop their own support networks to tackle physical or mental health conditions using the activities they best respond to e.g. a 10 minute walking group for people with COPD or asthma.

• From the cohort of people supported, early indications show that GP appointments have been reduced by 62.5% and reductions in accident and emergency attendance are in excess of 90%. Case studies also show that the approach is helping people live healthier happier lives, improve outcomes and enter employment.

What are the key learning points?

• The Oldham Social Prescribing model places community development and sustainability at the heart of the work. There is community development capacity built into the model which is vital to understanding what is happening in communities to connect people to, and to ensuring local groups are in a position to include more people.

• Alongside the social prescribing model Oldham Cares has also invested almost £1m in the capacity of the local VCFSE over three years through a programme of £500 ‘fast grants’ and five grants to larger programmes of social action led by local VCFSE organisations.

• The strengths based approach of the innovation partnership is also key to the success, putting social value at the heart and building on the skills, knowledge, experience and relationships of partners already delivering successfully in Oldham. The governance takes a more equal footing with partners and commissioners meeting regularly and being encouraged to surface system wide challenges and jointly unpick constraints such as access to services (e.g. parts of health or welfare) and build pathways where needed.

Additional Comments

A real case the partnership has supported (anonymised) – Rani is 27 years old, has a 1yr old, and is pregnant, moved to Oldham from India when she married her husband 3 years ago, and has recently lost her husband. Rani visited the GP several times about low mood and physical aches and pains. Sensing this was more than just medical issues at play here, the GP in Oldham West referred Rani the Social Prescribing partnership. Rani is now accessing community bereavement support, knit and natter women’s sewing groups, stay and play’s all to help reducing her social isolation, and is accessing parent and toddler activities. Rani’s next steps are enrolling on a lifelong learning course and exploring employment opportunities with Get Oldham Working. This is positive change we need to continue making for people in Oldham.