More than 100 people benefit from Guernsey's social prescribing scheme

  • Report by ITV Channel TV's Serena Sandhu

More than 130 islanders in Guernsey have benefitted from the Bailiwick's Social Prescribing Scheme since it was launched in July last year. 

It allows GPs to refer patients to free non-medical support and activities such as gardening, painting and even rock climbing to tackle issues such as stress, anxiety and loneliness. 

Michael Ellis is registered blind but it does not stop him finding adventurous ways to stay active thanks to the programme.

Wearing a blindfold prevents him from seeing anything whilst climbing, so he has to put his trust in his instructor to stay safe. Michael has only been climbing for four months but has said he feels proud of how far he has come.

"The sense of achievement of getting to the top or doing a harder climb or doing the overhang and some weeks I am very overloaded, my communication is limited and my ability is less and it's ok to come when I don't have to be on top form and those achievements are just as big as the weeks when I am feeling really good."Island Health has been referring patients for six months while the Healthcare Group joined the scheme in November. 

Those behind the project say it has been a huge success and have plans to expand the service.

Trish De Carteret from Bailiwick Social Prescribing has said the service has many benefits for islanders.

"Social prescribing is based on what is strong in someone than what is wrong in someone. It's about working with clients to see what they want to get to make their lives better.

"It can be anything from housing, debt management to social interaction, or help with mental wellbeing and accessing volunteering, it's really wide what we do."

Doctors have seen great results from patients who have been referred to the service.

Dr Louise Brook is one GP who has seen huge improvement in patient moral.

"For those patients who are accepting of it they are becoming more assertive, more confident and generally happier, fitter and healthier.

"It has come at a time particularly needed because of Covid and it has put fear in people. They are afraid to go out and have lost contacts and friendships and groups and have drifted into loneliness and unhappiness and this comes in to help and reconnect them with the community again."

The social prescribing service will run in the Bailiwick until the end of this year.

Islanders will have to go to an Island Health or Health Care Group GP and be referred onto the service.

Islanders who would like to find more information on the scheme can visit the Bailiwick Social Prescribing website.