New ‘LifeLink’ project to help reduce demand on NHS helps 500 people
PUBLISHED: 13:26 02 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:01 02 October 2020
A West Suffolk wellbeing project aiming to reduce demand on NHS services and help connect people to social activities has reported 86% of people using the service have made progress,
Following an initial pilot in Haverhill, the LifeLink project was rolled out across the whole of the district in February, and helped connect people with health and wellbeing services, social groups, clubs and new skills opportunities.
It was formed to help people with needs like anxiety and loneliness without needing to use GP or NHS services where they were not appropriate.
MORE: LifeLink gets expansion to Brandon and Mildenhall after Haverhill success
Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, a survey found that around two thirds of users had a disability, frailty or long term health conditions, with 86% of respondents in the latest survey saying they felt more empowered in better managing their conditions.
More than 500 people have been helped through the scheme, according to a report presented to West Suffolk Council on Tuesday.
West Suffolk Council leader John Griffiths said: “I would like to thank everybody in beginning LifeLink in Haverhill and the huge benefits lots of people gave made to put it across West Suffolk.”
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He added: “LifeLink was established to achieve better outcomes for people with loneliness, poor self-esteem, low mood and anxiety by helping them through coaching support and involving them in community groups and support available on their doorstep.
“All that in turn reduces some of the dependency on trips to the GP, prescription costs and hospital admissions – a saving that has been estimated to run into thousands of pounds.”
Among the anonymised case studies to report progress are a woman who lacked stable housing and had infrequent contact with her son who managed to improve her life to find stable housing with her mum and provide a room for her son, while another was helped to meet new people after struggling with confidence after her husband died.
The project was launched as a pilot in Haverhill in 2018 funded by West Suffolk Council, Suffolk County Council and the government, before being broadened to Mildenhall and Brandon in October thanks to fresh cash from Suffolk Public Sector Leaders and the West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group.
The district-wide rollout in February was facilitated by funding from GP practices across West Suffolk.
Nationally around one fifth of GP appointments were for social issues such as loneliness, low mood and anxiety, with project bosses in Haverhill after the first 18 months reporting that the ability for GPs and the Job Centre to refer people to LifeLink had been crucial.
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