Inverclyde's Community Link Workers (CLWs) hosted a 2nd birthday celebration on at the Beacon Arts Centre Greenock to showcase the work the team have been doing in Inverclyde over the past two years.
The networking event gave guests a chance to hear more about the positive impact the team of seven have had on the lives of GP patients, as they continue to strengthen connections between the community and primary care.
The CLW team were recruited by CVS Inverclyde at the end of 2017, with funding from the Scottish Government and Inverclyde HSCP. This was part of the National Links Worker Programme to introduce different skills directly into medical practices locally. They work with patients who have social challenges, which may affect their health or are already impacting upon their wellbeing, helping alleviate some of the pressures felt by GPs.
"By the very nature of the programme, the Community Link Workers have far longer to spend with patients and bring great skills in motivating and supporting people towards a more positive outcome," said Charlene Elliott, Chief Executive Officer, CVS Inverclyde.
"They also have a valuable understanding of the many local services where people can go for help. Thanks to their extensive community engagement over the past two years, the team have also helped people become more integrated and, therefore, far less lonely."
Commenting on their impact, Dr Hector Macdonald, Clinical Director of Inverclyde HSCP, said: "With a typical GP appointment of only ten minutes, there is not always enough time for them to fully explore what can be complex social issues that often lie behind a health problem. The concept behind the Community Link Workers is to support patients who present at their GP due to problems that are causing, or worsening, a health condition.
"The team have had a significant, positive impact over the last two years, with referrals made by GPs, practice nurses and receptionists and, if patients want to speak directly with one of them, they can also phone the surgery and ask for a call back. They have proven to be valuable members of the primary care team over that time."
The CLW team are based within GP surgeries to support people who may be experiencing a wide range of difficulties including family relationships, those who are lonely or socially isolated, and those at risk of homelessness. Amongst others benefitting from their help are people who aren't getting enough physical exercise, those struggling to cope with the social effects of a health condition, such as diabetes or asthma, or a diagnosis of a life-threatening condition. They have also been signposting those with debt or money problems to appropriate services.
The seven Community Links Workers led by Valerie Campbell are Brenda Cox, Elaine McKendrick, Fiona Sinclair, Laura McCammond, Margaret Mitchell and Tracy Gilmour. They are now based across all GP practices in Inverclyde.