Patients at a GP practice in North Leeds are tackling social isolation in their community by providing a befriender service.
Caring Hands are volunteer befrienders at North Leeds Medical Practice, who with help from GPs and nurses, are matched with patients who require support such as the elderly or those suffering from anxiety.
Caring Hands is a collaborative project between patients at North Leeds Medical Practice, GPs and nurses, Connect Well and third sector organisations. The project is overseen by the Patient Participant Group (PPG) at the practice which is supported by the NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
There are now a total of 24 volunteer befrienders who have undergone training in befriending, confidentiality and risk assessment. They do home visits, help with shopping, take patients on walks and run an activity group where patients can play board games and table tennis.
One patient that has been supported by this initiative is Nigel Leakey. He has a spinal injury which means he can’t walk without help or for very long.
Nigel said: “I was befriended by Caring Hands and it enabled me to go shopping. The activity group is good because I get practice standing and twisting playing table tennis. I get a lot of pleasure and a lot of fun out of meeting different people. Since being befriended by Caring Hands I got involved with the patient participation group and joined in with the events that they run and helped. My aim is to walk independently in the future.”
Beverley Kite, Chair of the Patient Participation Group at North Leeds Medical Practice said: “Caring Hands volunteers offer vulnerable, socially isolated and anxious patients an additional helping hand and listening ear when geographical distances and increased work pressures mean family members are less able to be there. We have had over 50 patient referrals from GPs, nurses, Connect Well and self-referrals. We are really pleased that the project is making a difference for our community.”
Kirsty Turner, Associate Director of Primary Care at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Caring Hands is a fantastic project. The project has shown how collaboration between different organisations and volunteers can make a real positive impact to patient’s lives. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Leeds North Medical Practice and Caring Hands for the difference they are making in tackling issues such as loneliness and isolation. We believe services like these will make a huge difference to patients health and wellbeing.”
If you are interested in getting involved with your local patient participation group, get in touch with the practice manager at your GP surgery or look at the practice website.
Patient Participant Groups
Members of the Patient Participant Group are usually a group of volunteer patients, the practice manager and one or more of the GPs from the practice, who meet on a regular basis to discuss the services on offer, and how improvements can be made for the benefit of patients and the practice. To find out more, you can get in touch with the practice manager at your GP surgery. For more information about Patient Participation Groups, visit www.leedsccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/patient-participation-group
Connect Well is a new social prescribing service, which works in partnership with primary care to navigate people to relevant services and support groups within the community.
For more information about Caring Hands please visit: www.northleedsmedicalpractice.nhs.uk/page1.aspx?p=1&t=7
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