On 4th December 2020 Norfolk and Waveney was approved as an Integrated CareSystem – a formal framework joining together separate existing health and social care providers, with joint budgets and joint objectives.  This is a system wide acknowledgement that as partners we are ready to work collaboratively, having a track record of delivering this in part.  

A great example has been our approach to Social Prescribing in the West (find out more about what this service involves here).  NHSE has funded several new roles designed to support the work of Primary Care Networks (link to the blurb explaining these), one of which has been a Social Prescriber.  In parallel NCC commissioned Community Action Norfolk, a VSCE organisation, to deliver a social prescribing service that practices were already referring to.  

The easy option would be to recruit our NHS social prescriber and crack on with the work within primary care, but there was nervousness about undermining the local authority, and destabilising the voluntary sector, as well as disrupting a service that was working largely well.  Our chosen pathway was to design an integrated way of working, triaging referrals and using the PCN social prescribing to enhance and improve the existing offer.  As a result we were able to offer addition l capacity outside of ‘traditional’ social prescribing approaches to work on multi disciplinary teams and projects, such as patients with dementia.

“The alignment of the NHSE funded Social Prescribing and the NCC funded social prescribing has brought about an increased capacity in how the social prescribing service is delivered in West Norfolk. Since the alignment of the two services our link workers have developed a close working relationship with the PCN link workers which has improved the patients’ experience and outcomes. A strong leadership from Community Action Norfolk and Health West Norfolk has ensured that this integration is a success.

The relationship of the voluntary sector and general medical practice through social prescribing has encouraged these two sectors to work better with one another, however the same relationship is threatened by lack of investment in the volunteer sector.”  

Freedom Duma –Operations Manager Community Action Norfolk