Reflection by a Social Prescribing Practitioner

About 4 and a half years ago when applying for a Community Psychiatric Nurse post I was required to do a presentation – the topic was the future of community psychiatric nursing. In this presentation I envisioned a role for a mental health worker based in a community setting with the potential to outreach other community resources. Well as luck would have it, this vision was offered as a job vacancy with the new Link/Social Prescribing project at FDAMH last December and I seized the moment and applied for this job. To my delight I was successful and here I am today.

Moving to FDAMH to work as a Social Prescriber fits in with my values of using a client centred approach to look at the difficulties people are experiencing, not just in a medical way but within the client’s social environment, enabling the client to manage their recovery in a way that is unique to them. The benefit for the client is that they stay totally in control and dictate not only the pace at which their journey moves along, but also the route their recovery journey will take.

I am able to draw from a vast resource of experience and knowledge gained from 26 years of psychiatric nursing within Forth Valley Health Board. I feel I have a freedom of practice in this role as it is more flexible, set as it is in a smaller organisation, than in a larger organisation where ownership of a role is more difficult.

Yet I also find this smaller organisation is no less professional in its care delivery, indeed the lack of bureaucracy has meant I can more readily access the various activities and services which my clients have indicated that they need. I enjoy working within the fluidity our service offers, which can change course to meet the demands of the users.

Looking at community resources to assist, means the clients have a sense of ownership of their local community and can be influential in shaping what their community looks like quite literally as well as metaphorically. The normalisation of some anxiety symptoms and reactive depression in the Social Prescribing Service lessens the dependence on medical models and I have found this to be an empowering experience for the majority of my clients.

Benefits of the Social Prescribing intervention must also extend to more specialist services that can then devote their skills and time to people who need them. I also find that I can use my previous contacts, acting as a bridge between GP services and the more specialist services, so that the client can benefit – simplifying the journey to recovery for the person experiencing the distress.

This move to the third sector has been a positive development for me and has increased my awareness of the variety of good work being done out with statutory services.

Tags: FDAMH, Link Service, Social Prescribing