Friday, 10 May 2013

Feedback from link worker talk April 27th

Around 30 of us met on Monday afternoon, 22 April, to hear about existing link worker models and to exchange ideas on the useful connecting role this could have in communities.  A full report will be added to blog, but here’s just a few highlights…..

The focus of the meeting was on link working in primary care and what needs to happen to ensure that people find right support.  Before hearing about existing models, Tommy Whitelaw, set the scene by describing his experience of caring for his mum, who became unwell with dementia.  Tommy cared for his dearly loved mum for years without support and adequate information – his poignant description of being handed a postit note with a phone number left many of us feeling a sense of shame that our caring services could let someone down so badly.  Tommy now devotes much of his time raising awareness of the needs of carers, the importance of finding information and how to access support.

Its frustrating to know that Tommy and his mum, who felt so alone, were probably surrounded by support – local and national mental health charities, carer groups, organisations for older people, doctors, nurses, social care, social workers, church lunch clubs, community groups and many others -  and yet somehow, they never got connected to the care they needed.  Despite having contact with services, they were not lucky enough to meet that one individual or group, who could have changed their lives for the better. Tommy’s path was continually blocked by, as someone put it, a lack of common sense, compassion and communication – it shouldn’t be down to luck.

Tommy’s story was a powerful introduction to the afternoon – we then heard about link worker models already operating in Scotland.  The first was about social prescribing in Dundee, where link workers are attached to some general practices, an initiative which came out of Equally Well and which has recently secured funding to continue and developl.  This was followed with description of Local Area Coordinators, an initiative of the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disabilities and then onto Glasgow where outreach workers were employed with aim of encouraging people who had missed out on Keep Well screening to have a check up.  This role was later developed with a much wider remit.

We then formed 4 groups to consider scenarios which were provided by Dr Peter Cawston -  2 about the link worker role, and 2 about the processes for signposting.  This was a lively session, feedback was really interesting and some of it unexpected.  We will post a report of the meeting and the scenarios which can be used by others (useful for meetings / workshops)

Thanks to everyone who came along on Monday – great to meet you all, it was a very informative afternoon which has left us with plenty to think about.

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