A pilot scheme, which took social prescribing into hospital pain clinics has reported overwhelmingly positive results for people living with chronic pain.
The pilot at St George’s and St Helier hospitals brought together consultants, physiotherapists, clinical nurse specialists and psychologists to offer a new approach to managing chronic pain.
During the trial people being treated at the hospitals were offered extra support from a health and wellbeing coach and a social prescribing link worker.
Social prescribing connects people to community support to combat issues like loneliness, isolation, and debt problems. The coaches help tackle lifestyle factors, which have an impact on health and wellbeing, such as diet and physical activity.
Seeing my health and wellbeing coach Sam has totally changed my life and has given me a sense of self-worth.”
Health and wellbeing coach Sam Moreno helped people manage their pain with a programme of regular appointments to understand how to change their lives for the better- by referring people to community organisations running social activities to help them gain confidence, for example.
Earlier this year, Wandsworth resident June said she had “regained control of her life” after she was injured in an accident. “I was left in excruciating pain running from my head to my feet and had tried everything to help after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia,” she said. “I was stressed at home over house repairs and was gaining weight. Seeing my health and wellbeing coach, Sam, has totally changed my life and has given me a sense of self-worth.”
People taking part in the pilot reported benefits reducing anxiety about their mental, emotional, and physical health as they regained their confidence transforming their outlook on life.”
Findings from a Health Innovation Network South London report showed that people living with chronic pain welcomed the support. Author Kate Lambe said: “People taking part in the pilot reported benefits reducing anxiety about their mental, emotional, and physical health as they regained their confidence transforming their outlook on life.”
Sam said that some people had taken up offers of support, such as bereavement counselling. Others had rediscovered interests and skills – like joining a walking group, which worked as a distraction from persistent pain, boosting their mental health.
“They went on to achieve things they didn’t think were possible, such as socialising, going to the gym and changing their diet,” he said. “With their new-found confidence they regained motivation. I remember one person saying, ‘If I can do that, then I can do other things!'”
Another person described how the support helped them avoid ‘going into that dark place’ and helped them ‘let go of things’.
With such a high level of satisfaction with this new approach we are now looking at the potential for expanding it to help people receiving hospital treatment for other conditions.”
Dr Mohan Sekeram, Merton GP and south west London personalised care lead, said: “With such a high level of satisfaction with this new approach we are now looking at the potential for expanding it to help people receiving hospital treatment for other conditions. It demonstrates how important it is to understand each person, not just the medical condition.”
Chronic (or persistent) pain is pain that has lasted for more than three months. It affects up to half of the UK population and has an impact on people’s ability to work, their social lives and their emotional wellbeing