Initiative to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Exeter recognised nationally

12 September 2017

The Integrated Care Exeter (ICE) initiative explores better ways of supporting the 40% of patients who visit their GP with socially based, rather than medical problems.

The project is already getting results and only this week was shortlisted for a prestigious national Health Service Journal award.

Wellbeing Exeter recognises that people primarily want a life not a service.

“The purpose of the partnership is to help people on a journey from dependence on medical services, through a safe and supported period of transition, into increased involvement with their local community and having a richer and more fulfilled interdependent life with neighbours and friends,” said Jo Yelland, former Director of ICE.

ICE was set up in 2014 and sees Exeter City Council, Devon County Council, Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group working closely together on the wellbeing agenda.

In England, only 4% of the total health budget is spent on prevention, yet it is estimated that if the public were fully involved in managing their health and engaged in prevention activities, £30 billion could be saved.

Wellbeing Exeter – a strategic alliance of public, voluntary and community sector organisations, has extended its project across all GP practices in the city for the next two years. If successful, it is hoped that this model will be considered for the whole of Devon.

As part of the Exeter project, practices are referring patients they believe would benefit from increased social activity to their trusted Community Connector.

Connectors work with the individual to identify what matters to them and then plan a way forward. The Connector might introduce people to activities and organisations within their neighbourhoods. The process is known as social prescribing.

At the same time, Community Builders, funded by Exeter City Council, identify social resources, stimulating activity and helping communities to thrive and develop.

Anette, who is one of the Community Connectors in Exeter, said: "I meet clients daily and it is wonderful to be able to help people on their various journeys. This can be anything from breaking social isolation to help with job opportunities or supporting the clients to get registered for council housing. Other common areas clients want support with is alcohol abuse and healthy lifestyle advice."

One person who benefited from the programme said: “I came in for pain killers and I am leaving with hope!” Another said: “The help and support I have received over the last few months has exceeded my expectations. As a result of this I now feel much less isolated than I was feeling when I was referred.”

Gillian Champion, nurse partner and clinical chair of the Exeter locality at NHS NEW Devon CCG, said: “Exeter General Practices have welcomed and supported this initiative and I am delighted that the service can be rolled out to an even larger group of practices in the city.”

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