Earlier this year we were delighted to welcome our new Community Links Worker Louisa Richardson to Dunbar Medical Centre, and recently she has been joined by Sarah Tomlins. Their role is wide and relatively new. In this blog, Louisa describes more about her work and what she can offer patients…
In January 2021 I joined the Royal Voluntary Service as the new Community Links Worker for Dunbar and East Linton. This was a role new to the Royal Voluntary Service and so naturally it was very exciting for everyone involved. Social Prescribing is an initiative started in 1984 that focusses on the benefits of helping people tackle non-medical issues that affected their overall wellbeing.
Starting any new job can be a little daunting at the best of times; starting during a national lockdown definitely provided its own challenges as well to put it mildly! With limited ability initially to see people face to face, everyone involved looked at creative solutions to this issue and we were able to start offering telephone and video appointments in February. As lockdown eased we were able to offer face to face appointments in the medical centres. The entire staff team at both surgeries have been incredibly supportive during this time, and we have seen how hard they work to support the respective local communities.
The Community Link Worker service is part of Social Prescribing, a holistic and person-centred way of empowering people to identify areas they would like to improve in their lives and working with them to make those changes. It can be a little tricky to describe exactly what social prescribing and the link worker service can do, I have heard it described is as a way to “fill in the gaps by connecting people with community resources”. This could be anything from signing up to and attending an education course, trying new ways of managing anxiety, improving physical fitness all the way to helping somebody overcome barriers to employment.
Over the past 6 months the Link Worker service has been able to work with people from the local communities to enhance their wellbeing and look at new solutions to issues they may have struggled with for some time.
People can be referred to the Community Link Worker service via their GP or a healthcare professional based in any of the Dunbar Medical practices or the East Linton Medical Centre. There is no waiting list for the Community Links Worker service and appointments are available in person, over the phone or via video. We can work with anyone over the age of 18 and registered with one of the Dunbar GP practices.
It is a diverse and responsive service with the client at the centre. Link workers are able to refer people to different groups, organisations and community services and will work with people for an agreed number of sessions to support them in achieving their goals. All our work is collaborative so nobody is ever referred to a service unless they want to be . The Link Worker appointments can help provide a space to talk through your ideas about what support or changes you feel you need and for you to identify the best solution that feels right for you.
What situations can Community Link Workers assist with?
- self harm
- social isolation
- mobility problems
- housing problems
- alcohol or drug use
What support can Community Link Workers offer?
- connections to local interest groups
- family support
- housing advice
- benefits and financial advice
- disability support
- support with living independently
- emotional wellbeing support
- opportunities for social interaction
- carer support