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What is an ICS, STP or PCN – and how do they affect me?

Additional answers from Tim Anfilogoff:

What advice would you give arts/voluntary organisations trying to develop a social prescribing offer? Who do we approach first?

It will always depend on the area where you are but here are some thoughts:

• Who leads on Arts Development in the local authority/ies and what links do they have?

• Who commissions the voluntary sector in your LA/s? They should know

• Is your local CVS actively engaged in social prescribing locally? What networks can you link into/partner with

• There should be a social prescribing lead in your CCG (but this link may be broken because so many people have had to change roles during the pandemic)

• The regional co-ordinator from NASP and the Learning Co-ordinator for NHSE will have links to individual LWs (who will have links to individual PCN clinical directors)

• Is your Director of Public Health approachable (probably not at the moment because of the pandemic, but there is a very strong evidence base for the positive impact of art on health see https://www.culturehealthandwellbeing.org.uk/appg-inquiry/ )

• If nothing else works (or you could start here), Google SP and your geography and see what happens – you are bound to find someone who can help you network

What is the view on clinical effectiveness of SP within the CCG? It may be what people want, but how much consideration is there for what is effective?

• Evidence base for SP is developing, but there is already a lot of it. Post Covid I don’t think there are any clinicians now who don’t get the impact of social determinants on health, if only because of the much worse experience of BAME communities during Covid and the new extension of Clinically Extremely Vulnerable lists on the basis of social determinants shows this is increasingly understood

I attach some slides I use locally on the evidence base – case studies are particularly useful where you don’t have lots of ‘hard’ data. GPs like to have their patients’ problems solved and in some cases it is really obvious how awful the outcomes would have been without SP (like the 5 cases in the slides). SP saved money and time for a range of agencies as well as improving the outcomes for the patient. And the role of SP in motivating people is critical. All very well being told to lose weight. It often takes a lot of support from peers and encouragement (and other problems being sorted) before it will happen

• Local GPs also tell me it’s not just about seeing patients less, as per some of the case studies, once social issues are addressed the medical issues can be addressed properly – there may be a surge of medical input, but leading to better outcomes, followed by a more stable, happier patient.

What’s the best way to get in touch with local SPLWs to tell them about your service?

• Incredibly variable and depends on your geography as set out above, but regional co-ordinator for NASP and Learning Co-ordinator for NHSE should be able to help if you can’t make links as set out above

• If you have (like we do in Herts) a county-wide single point of access to the voluntary sector that should be straightforward

• If you have a social prescribing service (as opposed to just single PCN employed LWs) it should be straightforward to start networking

• CVSs should be able to advise how to make contact

NB – all LWs will be very keen to hear about ‘prescriptions’ they can offer clients, but there is generally some work to be done on local networks to make this linking up easier. Herts Community database has 12,000 entries…

Eligibility

Will the National Academy for Social Prescribing and Thriving Communities include communities of people who come together with a common purpose that may not be a ‘formal’ group or organisation, but a group of people who want to make a difference to people in their locality? Can you tell us how you are going to harness the best of what’s already there for people who don’t naturally fit into the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) box?

Absolutely yes! The Thriving Communities Network is open to anyone – groups or individuals – and intended to provide an online community of support for those wanting to increase and extend local activities for communities impacted by COVID-19.

Regional Contacts and Roles

What is the role of the National Academy for Social Prescribing regional lead and its team?

The regional lead will provide development support for local voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) groups within the region, who want to develop their activities for communities most impacted by COVID-19. Their support will help local VCFSE groups make build strategic partnerships with local commissioners, local infrastructure agencies and partners from different sectors.

What is the role of the National Academy for Social Prescribing regional leads eg in helping to identify partnership opportunities, or refining project ideas?

The National Academy for Social Prescribing regional leads and their team, including staff from the natural environment, physical activity, arts and culture and, financial wellbeing sectors, are here to promote partnership working and to facilitate new partnerships across multiple sectors by brokering introductions between partners.

What regional meetings will National Academy for Social Prescribing regional leads convene?

Learning Together is being delivered as a regional programme and each region will tailor delivery according to local needs. Contact your regional leads for more information.

How can partners on the Learning Together programme collaborate?

Yes, your regional lead will provide opportunities for you to meet, learn from, share and collaborate with other members of the Learning Together programme.

Join our Thriving Communities Network will includes a members’ forum to encourage, and facilitate, discussions regionally and nationally. Make sure you sign up to the Network to be involved.

How will the National Academy for Social Prescribing regional leads work with voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) – Integrated Care System (ICS) leads in their region?

Regional leads will build collaborative up relationships with Councils for Voluntary Service (CVS) and Integrated Care Systems (ICS) across the region to ensure join up with existing activity.

Collaboration and Ways of Working

What will the relationship between the National Academy for Social Prescribing regional leads and NHS England social prescribing regional network facilitators and the regional physical activity leads?

The National Academy for Social Prescribing has created a team at regional level to support the Thriving Communities programme. The team will be led by the National Academy for Social Prescribing regional lead partner, most of whom are voluntary sector agencies. This team will also include Sport England funded physical activity leads, Natural England funded health and environment leads, NHS England social prescribing regional facilitators and will also be supported by regional staff from the Money and Pension Service and Arts Council England.

The team will work together to support local voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) groups and organisations to increase and extend activities for communities impacted by COVID-19, and encourage innovative partnerships across physical activity, the natural environment, art and culture and financial wellbeing.

How will the regional learning groups avoid duplicating the existing forums and networks convened by Councils for Voluntary Service? How will the regional leads access local connections without making use of Councils for Voluntary Service (that you aren’t funding)?

The National Academy for Social Prescribing seeks to build on local support already available, not duplicate, and we are working with local Councils for Voluntary Service and other infrastructure partners, to develop this programme. Regional leads will work in collaboration with other partners to complement existing local learning.

Is there a facility for each region to hold a discussion forum with others in the Network?

Yes, our Thriving Communities Network will include a members’ forum to encourage, and facilitate, discussions regionally and nationally. Make sure you sign up to the Network to be involved.

Is Thriving Communities a local, regional or national programme?

Thriving Communities aims to help grassroots voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) groups and organisations supporting those communities most impacted by COVID-19 and health inequalities.

Through the Learning Together initiative, the Thriving Communities Network and Ideas Hub, local groups can share learning, gain new ideas, access funding and develop partnerships across sectors with others at a local, regional and national level.

Is the idea of community ‘shifting’ because of COVID-19? Are virtual communities such as social media and online groups replacing communities of place and communities of interest?

Many local community leaders have adapted quickly to COVID-19, for example, providing online activities alongside, or instead of, face-to-face activities. Online activities are unlikely to replace communities of place or interest, but they provide a helpful, additional, creative way of supporting existing communities to connect with each other.

Funding

NHS Charities Together Community Partnership Grants

How the NHS Charities Community Partnership Fund will work given that NHS Charities do not traditionally give out funding to organisations outside of the NHS?

More information on the fund is available on our website and the grants FAQs.

How can CVS be engaged to be able to disseminate information / support?

Contact your NASP regional lead for advice

Are all host lead charities appointed?

NHS Charities are continuing to appoint host charities to support the fund – details will updated regularly on their website. The approved lead NHS charities for the Stage 2 Community Partnership Grants in each STP/ICS area so far are listed on their website.

What is the lead charity?

A lead charity is a member charity of NHS Charities Together that has been successfully nominated or identified to be the voice of their geographical area. They will coordinate discussions and plans with the other NHS and non-NHS charities, and other relevant organisations in the area. They will act as the facilitator for the organisation and legal mechanism for transacting the charitable funds in this stage of grants.

Thriving Communities Fund

Will the Thriving Communities Fund be available for existing link worker schemes (e.g. based at a CVS) to apply for to develop with local community partners?

Applications can be led by voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCSFE) groups and organisations working in any of the following sectors:

  1. Arts, and culture, including libraries, museums and heritage
  2. Sport, leisure and physical activity organisations
  3. Financial wellbeing, advice, food and practical support
  4. Environment and nature-based organisations
  5. Non-statutory health and care organisations, working with social prescribing link worker

More information on the Fund.

Will any future funding be available through Thriving Communities that would benefit those groups who are not employed or employing social prescribing link workers?

Thriving communities aims to support help grassroots voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise groups, that are supporting communities most impacted by COVID-19 and health inequalities. This includes groups who do not employ social prescribing link workers.

Will Arts Council England and the National Academy for Social Prescribing actively connect two applications to the Fund from the same area once applications are received?

The fund is for partnership bids. Regional leads are there to support organisations and broker new relationships and partnerships. If they are aware of multiple bids they would encourage applicants to join together to create one robust application before the application is submitted. Arts Council England will not have the capacity to provide pre-application guidance. Visit the Arts Council England information on the thriving communities fund for guidance.

Link workers and Social Prescribing

What is social prescribing and who is a social prescribing link worker?

Social prescribing empowers people to take control of their health and wellbeing through referral to ‘link workers’ who give time, focus on ‘what matters to me’ and take a holistic approach to an individual’s health and wellbeing, connecting people to diverse community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support.

Social prescribing link workers work as a key part of the primary care network multidisciplinary team helping them to strengthen community and personal resilience, reduce health inequalities and wellbeing inequalities by addressing the wider determinants of health, such as debt, poor housing and physical inactivity, by increasing people’s active involvement with their local communities. It works well for people with long term conditions (including support for mental health), for people who are lonely or isolated, or have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing. Link workers can be based in voluntary sector organisations

How do I get in touch with our local social prescribing link workers to discuss working together? How can we engage with GP practices locally? How can we better engage with our Primary Care Networks (PCNs)?

In both cases the first point of contact is the social prescribing link worker. Your local VCFSE support organisation may know who they are or is likely to know which organisations currently have a link worker. Alternatively, you can check on the website of the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group. That will usually include details of who the local primary car primary care network that is responsible for setting up their social prescribing service. Some primary care networks have their own website and may include their link worker on the list of contacts. If not, follow up the links into the primary care network, but be aware that at the moment (Dec 2020) primary care networks and their GP practices are giving priority to managing the response to the pandemic and to ensuring that they continue to provide access for all patients.

Is your definition of ‘link worker’ who provides the letter of support the NHS link workers only or can this be a link worker within in a Voluntary, Community, Faith or Social Enterprise local commissioned social prescribing organisation?

The link worker can be either an NHS based link worker or one hosted in the voluntary sector.

How will organisations be supported to provide specialist services?

Social prescribing link workers in general practice, work as members of a wider team of clinicians and practice staff. They are supported by a GP supervisor and other members of the team to manage and prioritise their caseloads, in accordance with the needs, priorities and any urgent support required by the people they are supporting. Their training includes developing a strong understanding of when it is appropriate or necessary to refer people back to other health professionals/ agencies, when what the person’s needs are beyond the scope of the link worker role e.g. when there is a mental health need requiring a qualified practitioner. This includes being able to identify and assess/manage risk when both working with individuals or referring them on to other agencies including voluntary groups and services. It is important that link workers work closely with local partners, including community groups and VCSE organisations to ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place to ensure that referrals are safe and provide a positive experience for people being referred.

Can the social prescribing link worker provide letters of support for several projects?

The Thriving Communities Fund is aimed at supporting projects which demonstrate that organisations, people and communities are working together in partnership. Multiple applications from the same geographical area are unlikely to receive funding. Link workers can however endorse more than one application in their area where they consider that to be merited. Link workers are not being asked to adjudicate between bids. Where there is no link worker in place or the link worker is unavailable, a letter of support can be provided by another person professionally involved in social prescribing, for example in the local social prescribing scheme, the primary care network or a community connector organisation.

Where link workers, or other suitable social prescribing professionals, are approached to support multiple applications it may be helpful to encourage applicants to join together to create one robust application and refer them to the National Academy for Social Prescribing regional lead who can provide some guidance on creating one application which brings all elements together.

Where the link worker is hosted by an organisation that wants to be the lead or a partner applicant to the Thriving Communities Fund, it would be preferable to secure a letter of support from a suitable social prescribing professional who is not directly involved in the proposed application.

Can activities offered as a social prescribing option also be open to the public?

Referrals to social prescribing activities can come via a number of routes including local authorities, police and fire service. Individuals are also able to refer themselves to a suitable activity.

Last updated: 14.12.2020