The past seven weeks have been busy for the new Social Prescribing service – New Connections – which was due to launch in April. The service has adapted so that we can provide more tailored support during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
We have been working with a range of local partners such as Connex, Careline and COVID-19 Mutual aid groups to ensure people are getting the support they need while they stay at home. We have been making calls to people who have asked the Derbyshire Community Response Unit or their GP surgery for support. Some of these calls have been to help people manage the practical challenges of staying at home and self-isolating, like food shopping and collecting prescriptions. However with routines changing, family and friends unable to visit, and services that normally support people face-to-face reduced or stopped, it’s easy to see why some people have found this period mentally and emotionally challenging too.
We’ve also been thinking about how we offer the Social Prescribing service going forward, with none of us able to see what the next few months will hold. We want to make sure people are still able to access the incredibly important support in their community, albeit from their own homes. Alongside this, it’s important that people are still able to access essential services like shopping, banking and advice from services like Citizens Advice. Those who are connected digitally – in that they have access to a device like a smartphone or tablet and the skills to use it – may find this period much less isolating than someone who doesn’t have those things at home.
If people can’t connect face-to-face, digitally or virtually is the next best option, and it’s more important now than ever to ensure we equip people to do that. We’re going to continue to apply this thinking to our delivery of New Connections, and do Social Prescribing a little differently than we originally expected.
We’d love to hear how you’ve been supporting people during the COVID-19 lockdown, and what your plans are going forward.
Contact Harriet Brown and Debbie Rushworth at Derbyshire Dales CVS – 07483 126823 or email firstname.lastname@example.org