A project which is literally sign-posting people to healthier, happier lives started earlier this month (July 15 2016) in the Fareham area.
Since being launched in Gosport last October, the Surgery Signposters project has supported more than 150 people.
It is now expanding into neighbouring Fareham and work is progressing well to further roll out the project to the Havant and East Hampshire areas.
The ‘surgery signposters’ are trained volunteers who will play a crucial role supporting GP practices to ensure that people don’t miss out on all the help and services provided by their local community groups.
The volunteers work closely with practice staff on a range of areas including the ability to:
- guide patients towards the many local charities and support groups that could help them to be healthier
- encourage patients to take part in community groups, which has been proven to lead to a happier and healthier life
- get in touch with other people if they are lonely or isolated.
The service is available for all Fareham patients to be referred to by their GP or health professional.
Six ‘signposters’ have completed their training in Fareham and will be based at the Westlands Medical Centre, Portchester – though they will take referrals from practices throughout the town.
Fareham Surgery Signposters has its first live referrals tomorrow (July 15) with others booked in next week. The service will run in Fareham from 10am until 12 noon on Mondays; and from 10am-noon and 2pm-4pm on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Sally Bigham, Surgery Signposting Project Manager, said: “Community Action Fareham has done a great job in finding such excellent volunteers and everyone is really looking forward to the Fareham launch.
“In Gosport, where the service has been based at the Waterside Medical Centre, we have supported more than 150 patients, relatives or carers.
“People have been referred to many organisations in the area to gain access to help with all sorts of issues including anxiety, social isolation, debt and alcohol issues, depression, the onset of dementia and sight loss, preventing diabetes and obesity.
“We are now planning the extension of the service into other surgeries in Gosport using both our existing, experienced signposters and new volunteer recruits. Signposters have also been supporting other surgeries to be present during Pre Diabetes session to assist attendees with information.”
Surgery Signposters is being run in partnership by NHS Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group (F&G CCG), NHS South Eastern Hampshire CCG, Gosport Voluntary Action, Community First HEH and Fareham Community Action.
Dr David Chilvers, a GP at Waterside who chairs F&G CCG, said: “As a GP, I can do everything possible to diagnose illness and prescribe treatments, but feeling good and getting the most out of life is often about more than that. This is where Surgery Signposters can make a massive difference.
“If a patient is feeling lonely, or lacking confidence, or wanting help to lead a healthier life, then the volunteers could step in and steer people towards the invaluable help already provided by the voluntary sector.”
It is hoped that Surgery Signposters will be introduced in Havant in August and the Whitehill and Bordon area later this year.