National Links Worker programme review of 2018

Section: In the CommunityType: News Item Date Published: 7th January 2019

Our National Links Worker programme review activities over 2018 for our annual report.

2018, saw the expansion of the programme, bringing the number of participating GP practices somewhat serendipitously, to 18. Three practices in Govanhill Health Centre joined the programme and three new Community Links Practitioners (CLPs) were recruited and are based in these practices.

The programme is now available to around a tenth of Glasgow’s population, with a continued focus of course on areas of socioeconomic deprivation through our rollout across Deep End practices, and in 2018 we worked with our 5000th individual.

Issues that CLPs work together with individuals to identify and begin to address, through both direct support and identifying and accessing appropriate sources of support, continue to be comprised of a wide range of complex interlinking social, mental and physical issues, as highlighted by the wordcloud in the image which depicts the relative prevalence of issues noted in CLP’s records.

Challenges around feasibly and appropriately measuring the outcomes from this type of work, primarily aimed at ameliorating negative impacts of social determinants of health by developing complex interventions in complex real world settings, continues to be the focus of research at various levels worldwide. The Links Worker Programme’s Learning and Evaluation Adviser is undertaking a PhD at University of Strathclyde which is exploring data science based approaches to meeting this challenge.

Some specific highlights from the programme from the past year, as shared by CLPs, include:

  1.  “We changed from a split practice to a single practice. A number of patients who live quite a distance from the site that has closed stated that the main reason they stayed with the practice was because of me. It made me feel valued by the people I have been working for.”
  2. “Since June this year we have been working in partnership with Southside Connections to establish a community garden. A freelance gardener works with participants and coordinates the gardening programme. In addition, an instructor delivered nine taster-sessions of Tai Chi and another course is planned for late-January.
    In the months since June a growing group of participants registered as patients at our practice have been in attendance at this nearby community garden. Several people were identified beforehand as being isolated socially, or as having issues around anxiety/impaired mobility. They are joined twice a week by members of the community and residents of the properties attached to the garden to participate in the activity. Southside Connections have reported that ‘feedback has been exceptionally good’, ‘the progress that’s happening is great’ and they are now ‘keen to secure to develop and build on the programme’.”
  3. “We established a successful partnership programme between the practice, local schools, artists and community organisations to refresh the practice waiting room and make it a more welcoming, useful and community oriented space.”
  4. “Supporting two separate families, with their own particular and unique needs, into more suitable accommodation. This process began in 2017 so to have both move forward in 2018 was satisfying. As these processes can sometimes move very slowly!”
  5. “I led on the establishment of the Suicide Safer Community Steering group which works to bring together a range of local stakeholders to implement the World Health Organisation produced suicide prevention toolkit locally, bringing the voice of those affected by suicide to help shape a locally led response to prevention.”
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