Evaluation of Sources of Support Service

An evaluation of the Dundee Sources of Support programme which involves Links Workers who support patients who access primary care for non-medical issues.

1. Introduction

1.1 The Background to the Sources of Support Service

GPs have stated their concerns that 'many patients present with concerns that arise from their social situation, and the management of long-term medical conditions is often affected by personal circumstances'. (GPs at the Deep End Report 8 Social Prescribing, Sept 2010, University of Glasgow). They have pointed out that they have neither the time nor the necessary skills to deal with such problems. The Sources of Support Service had its origins in the national Equally Well programme. Within Dundee, the programme 'aimed to test new ways of working, predominately in public services, to tackle health inequalities and improve community mental well-being' (1). The Sources of Support Service was one of several initiatives set up and focused on 'strengthening access to sources of support for mental well-being in the community...'.[1].

1.2 The Sources of Support Service (SOS)

The service was provided to one practice during the pilot phase but this has now expanded to four practices across the City. Three experienced mental health and community development practitioners were recruited to the role of Link Worker and work across all four practices. The target group were patients affected by socio-economic, environmental and interpersonal issues that impacted on their mental well-being and referrals to the service came mainly from GPs and relevant practice staff (e.g. practice nurses). The link workers used structured conversations of 40-50mins duration to establish a rapport and develop a relationship with the patient. The conversational process teased out the issues the patient wished to address, the barriers to addressing the issues and the supports available (e.g. family, other services, patient's own resources). A collaborative plan of action was then created, and the patient linked to local services/activities to fulfill the plan. If necessary, the Link Worker would accompany the patient on service/activity visits. The Link Worker role sits within an assets-based approach, working with people to develop their capacity and skills and give them the confidence to act in a positive way to protect their own health within the context in which they live. The Link Workers work in a recovery focused manner with people and, by drawing on the resources and insights of both patient and service providers, aim to create 'co-produced solutions' to problems.

1.3 Creating a Window on the Service

A case based approach has been used to provide a window on the work of the service and its achievements thus far. The case based approach has allowed a more in-depth analysis of the work of the service. The interim report presents the results of the analysis of a purposive sample of 100 cases that completed working with the Link Workers (see Section 2 Methodology). The report focuses on the following questions:

  • Who were the patients?
  • How did the service function in practice?
  • Did the patients achieve their goals?
  • What services were utilised to deliver patient goals?
  • What role/s did the Link Workers play in helping the patient achieve their goals?
  • What were the barriers and facilitators related to patients?
  • What were the key themes emerging from working on the front-line?
  • Where there assets/skills gains for the patients?


Email: Naureen Ahmad

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