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Alex Jones is a social prescriber working on behalf of Torfaen’s Neighbourhood Care Networks
Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. A Social Prescriber provides the link between primary care and a range of local, non-clinical services able to tackle a range of needs.
My day starts with an early morning wake-up call from my dogs at around 6.30am. I have breakfast watching morning TV and take my time to get ready, mentally preparing myself for the day ahead, yet always rushing out of the door like a whirlwind.
I check my emails and make a couple of calls before seeing my first appointment in surgery at 9.30am.
During the 45-minute consultation with the patient, as a social prescriber, I spend this time trying to unpick some of the issues they may be facing such as housing, relationship breakdown, employment or financial issues, loneliness, mental wellbeing and so on.
The patient will start to tell their full story, probably for the first time. The patient will feel overwhelmed and relieved all at once for having the opportunity to be listened to and heard. We will discuss their priority issues and will make a plan on how best to move forward – discussing what support services may be available to them, what they are willing and able to help themselves with and how best I can support them to achieve their goals. The patient will remember historical issues that they haven’t discussed before, that could be impacting on their current situation, and emerging issues may change the priorities we had started to set. We will run over by 5-10 minutes.
I will add to their medical notes for the practitioner/referrer to be able to see the work we have done and make a list for myself of things I need to do, calls I need to make, information I need to obtain and forms I need to fill out.
I see another three patients, which should take me up until 12.30pm, but this will likely run until 1pm. I then take a moment to make sure I have updated everything correctly and have a thorough to-do list to go away with.
I will either grab a sandwich to eat in my car before heading to another surgery to see another four patients in the afternoon, or head back to the office for an admin afternoon and a catch up with my colleagues.
If it’s the latter, I will try to eat a mindful, healthy lunch before cracking on with returning calls, replying to emails, sending lengthy referrals, feeding back to patients and any other correspondence.
I’ll leave the surgery or office, get in my car and choose something upbeat to listen to on my drive to the gym or home at around 5.30/6pm. When I get in, I’m welcomed by my partner and three dogs, who I need to walk. After a quick cup of tea and catch up about our days, we’ll take turns to walk the dogs or cook and we’ll sit to eat around 8:30pm. A quick chance to watch something cheesy (unashamedly) on TV like Made in Chelsea or First Dates lets me unwind from my day before going to bed and doing it all over again.
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