Celebrating social prescribing success in the Brisbane North region

Mar 14, 2024

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Ending Loneliness Together has cited loneliness as a “critical issue of our time” – together with social isolation, it impacts the daily lives and wellbeing of 1 in 3 Australians. With the assistance of Footprints Link Workers, Brisbane North PHN is supporting adults across our region to connect with their communities.

Social prescribing is an innovative approach to countering the effects of loneliness and social isolation by connecting people to services, people and activities in their community. It offers a non-clinical intervention that can enhance a person’s connectedness and sense of belonging.

Observed on 14 March each year, Social Prescribing Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the benefits of social prescribing as part of patient-centred healthcare, and to showcase available local services and supports.

With the support of Brisbane North PHN, Footprints Community’s dedicated social prescribing program Social Health Connect (SHC) has been working since May 2023 to meaningfully improve the health and wellbeing of adult (18+) residents in the Caboolture and Kilcoy hospital catchments by linking them with local community supports.

SHC Link Workers work closely with their clients to support them in accessing and joining social groups and community activities that align with them. Link Workers are able to take a hands-on approach in helping clients to overcome any barriers that they may face in attending groups independently – these may include transportation, finances, unstable housing, and mental health or alcohol and other drug (AOD) concerns.

Social prescribing compliments the care a patient receives from their regular primary health professionals. As part of their service delivery, SHC Link Workers remain connected with a client’s GP to facilitate a more holistic approach to addressing these social determinants of health that may be contributing to any presenting physical or mental health concerns.

Social Health Connect was recommended to Caboolture resident and grandmother Debbie by her local Stride Hub while accessing treatment for depression and anxiety. Debbie came to Footprints with the goal of meeting new people and finding something to do outside of her home.

Now reaching the end of her support journey, Debbie says SHC has “immensely improved” her mental health and introduced her to new people and hobbies in her community – she is now involved with the Wamuran Women’s Shed, attends a family history and genealogy club and volunteers at the Caboolture Historical Village.

Since getting out and about, Debbie says people have noticed a marked difference in her demeanor.

“People say to me, ‘what have you been doing? You’re different!’” said Debbie.

Link Workers may physically attend sessions with clients to help them to integrate and participate in a new group or activity. The program supports capacity building for each client by scaling back supports over time so that they have the confidence to continue attending their new social activities post discharge from SHC.

“The fact that Megan [Debbie’s designated SHC Link Worker] came with me to Wamuran helped me to get my foot in the door. The care factor is great. There is no pressure. Just guidance, help and support,” said Debbie.

Having gone from not knowing where to turn for help to a sense of feeling connected to her community, Debbie is now an advocate for social prescribing and is spreading the word to other people feeling isolated or lonely.

I talk about Footprints with a lot of people and say, just give it a go. It has changed my life.

Debbie, Footprints SHC consumer

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