Despite the unseasonably warm weather, autumn is clearly upon us and we’re all getting ready for the onset of winter and of course the Festive Season. Christmas trees seem to appear earlier every year!
A big welcome to those patients who’ve joined us now that FPS membership has been opened up and there is a new way of communicating with you all. We realise that there will be some teething problems about how communications are received given that not everyone is able to receive text messages. However, we’re always happy to hear from you about how it’s working for you.
It’s been really great for some of the FPS committee members to help out at the ‘ flu clinics and to be able to meet informally with those of you who’ve come along. We were all a bit surprised to see how complicated negotiating the new and much expanded car park at the surgery is when it’s busy! I hope that you were able to talk to us and find out who we are and what we do. We’ll be at the surgery for the next ‘flu clinics offering a further chance to talk with us and tell us if there are any issues you’d like us to convey to the surgery at our regular meetings.
This month, we’ve seen our very first in-person health talk at the surgery since the pandemic and our thanks go to surgery staff for supporting us in this venture. It was a most enjoyable and informative evening and certainly I found out a lot of things about eyes I didn’t know before. We’re still interested to hear from you if there are topics you think might be interesting for any future talks- it can be anything from something specific to our surgery or something of more general interest – use the form later in the newsletter to give us your ideas.
For those of you who follow our Facebook and Twitter pages, you will see lots of health related subjects covered by a variety of organisations in Hertfordshire, from mental health to this month’s breast care. Hopefully our new series focusing upon the cost of living will also offer you some tips for how to ease some of the worries this is causing.
Remember our website has lots of information about the FPS committee and our links to the surgery.
Remember we are there for all patients of the surgery. Watch out for our Christmas raffle, with tickets on sale through committee members very soon.
Planning for winter illnesses continues, with the surgery having delivered two ‘flu clinics already, with two more to go.
For those that are eligible to have the flu vaccine this year, and have not yet had it, invitations are sent out via text message; please make sure your details are up to date.
Covid Autumn Boosters continue to be administered to those eligible. You can also book online via the NHS or by calling NHS 111.
At our most recent committee meeting, we met with Lynda and Erika, the social prescribers attached to Parkwood Surgery. In their presentation, they explained the role of a social prescriber, what help was available, and how volunteers could get involved. Read on to find out more!
The role of a social prescriber
Social prescribing is a way of tackling the underlying causes of a person’s ill health. If a person presents at the GP with repeated chest infections in a short space of time, with no seeming underlying medical issue, the GP may make a referral to the social prescriber and ask them to look into the patient’s living conditions and general lifestyle. The social prescriber can make a home visit and might find a reason for the patient’s ill health, such as a faulty boiler causing the house to be too cold, or damp living conditions. With the issue identified, the social prescriber can also work with the patient to try to resolve it, which may include accessing funding or grants to help improve their living situation.
Social prescribers might also be asked to step in following a life-altering diagnosis, such as a degenerative or terminal condition. When the patient is ready, the social prescriber can help them to access any benefits they might be entitled to, and direct them towards support groups.
For some patients, loneliness is a huge issue and might lead to them seeking medical help when no real diagnosis can be made. In these cases, the social prescriber can help to find social activities for that person to engage with, or for those who are house-bound, volunteers to spend some time with them in their own home.
The purpose of the social prescriber is to seek ways of avoiding the patient becoming ill and needing medical care.
Social prescriber clinics
To help reach more people, Lynda and Erika will be available at Parkwood Surgery on the first Wednesday of each month from 12.00pm. If you think you or someone you know would benefit from some support of this kind and would like a face-to-face chat, appointments can be made via the surgery’s reception team.
Lynda and Erika’s services are provided to Parkwood Surgery from HertsHelp, a network of community organisations in Hertfordshire which work together to help residents find support for a whole range of issues. If you think you or someone you know could benefit from some help, but you’re not sure quite what, you can make a self-referral to HertsHelp by calling 0300 123 4044 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also text hertshelp to 81025 or contact them via minicom on 0300 456 2364.
Find out more about the services HertsHelp can put you in touch with on their website.
How you can get involved
During their presentation, Lynda and Erika said one of the biggest problems was finding those volunteers to spend time with people who cannot access social groups outside the home. For many of these people, the only visitors they have are carers or medical professionals who don’t have time to sit and chat with them.
It’s impossible to underestimate the effect of the current cost of living crisis upon ordinary people.
As we mentioned above, GPs and other clinicians are well aware of the impact of social issues upon their patients’ physical and mental health.
At FPS, we want to make sure people know what help is out there during this period of financial uncertainty.
Throughout November, on our Facebook and Twitter pages, well be sharing links and tips to help signpost our members to the support already available through local and national government, as well as other organisations such as foodbanks and the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Don’t use social media? A great starting point we’ve found is Dacorum Borough Council‘s own site.
Pre-pandemic, committee member Val set up the FPS Knit and Natter group to bring together crafty people for a weekly chat and check in.
Finally, it’s back! Sessions will restart in the near future in the Community Hall on Great Sturgess Road on Tuesdays between 2 and 4pm.
If you’re interested, give Val a call on 01442 255449.
Come for the knitting – stay for the chat!