Kareema McCarthy

People who have benefited from social prescribing in Northamptonshire have shared their stories about its positive impact on their lives – as a second phase of recruitment was launched to employ more link workers.

Back in September 2019, Partnership Update reported on the successful recruitment of the first 15 social prescribing link workers to our county’s  Primary Care Networks (PCNs).

Their role is to work with GP practice teams to support patients to manage their physical and mental wellbeing by helping them access non-clinical, community-run services such as leisure activities, social groups and healthy lifestyle advice.

Now, with the first wave of link workers well established in their roles across the county, a further six vacancies have been advertised with interviews taking place very shortly.

Kareema McCarthy (pictured right) is the social prescribing link worker for Rockingham Forest Primary Care Network, which provides care for 69,000 patients registered at four GP practices in Corby and Kettering.

Between October 2019 and January 2020 she has seen more than 200 patients – and has shared the positive comments received from some of them about the difference social prescribing has made.

“As a PCN we understand this is a new, developing role and have obtained very positive feedback from patients,” said Kareema.

One patient said: “It has helped me to explore my mental health and physical restrictions in a non-confrontational and supportive manner.

“Having the time to talk in a way not possible with GPs (due to time restrictions) is a very definite positive.

“I would recommend the service to anyone suffering from social isolation and mental health problems to identify and support lifestyle improvements.”

Another patient said: “The link worker was supporting and understanding of my needs and made me feel able to open up. She gave me tools to build myself up slowly and give me something to build with. I didn’t know something like this was available. It was insightful and very informative and I would recommend it to many people as it gives you focus.”

Dr Martin McGrath, Clinical Director for Rockingham Forest PCN, said: “Kareema’s work as a Social Prescribing Link Worker has had an immediate and positive impact on our PCN.

“Not only have Kareema’s clinics helped alleviate some of our resource strain, they have proved highly popular with her patients who have given very complimentary feedback.

“Our early experience has proven so successful that we now plan to enlarge and develop our social prescribing link worker team.”