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Community Link Worker service sees huge expansion

The expansion will see an increase of reach and impact by serving 62 GP surgeries across Highland.

Change Mental Health will continue to support more people experiencing health and wellbeing issues through the Community Link Worker (CLW) service, as part of an expansion which will serve all GP surgeries across the Highland Health and Social Care Partnership.

Change Mental Health has been delivering the Community Link Worker service, commissioned and funded by NHS Highland, since 2021. The service will significantly increase its reach and impact by double, to serving 62 GP practices from 31.

The expansion will see a recruitment of additional staff to cover new areas across Highland, including West Sutherland, Badenoch and Strathspey, Skye and Lochalsh, and the Small Isles.

The Community Link Worker service follows a social prescribing model, focusing to improve health outcomes for people experiencing stressors in their lives due to social problems that could lead to poor mental and physical health.

“This huge expansion will see more people supported with their health and wellbeing across Highland and the impact of the Community Link Worker service, which has already been exemplary, will be even greater over the coming years.

“We can’t wait to collaborate with more GP surgeries across Highland to ensure that people get the support they need, when they need it and in a way which works best for them.”

Clare Daly
Area Manager for North of Scotland at Change Mental Health

Latest impact statistics for the service, from May 2022 to May 2024, detail that 2663 referrals have been made, totalling in 9471 appointments and 4929 social prescriptions. A large percentage of referrals came from people experiencing mental health and wellbeing challenges, stress management, along with loneliness and social isolation.

A person who benefitted from the Community Link Worker service said:

“I am now looking to volunteer. I wouldn’t have thought of that before and feel better in myself after speaking to a Community Link Worker. It has helped me to find out about things and opened up a lot of doors for me.”

The service is entirely person-centred in its approach, with Community Link Workers getting to know the person and their interests by building a relationship – referring them to support that will best suit their needs.

People are offered up to eight sessions and a plan will be developed during this time to help them feel a sense of achievement. Progress is discussed after each meeting with a review to determine goals, outcomes and priorities, while understanding how to further shape support around the individual.

Sandra MacAllister, Senior Health Improvement Specialist, said:

“Having Change Mental Health continue as the provider of the service will allow for continuity for existing practices. They bring all their experience of having delivered the service from the last two years to expansion to additional practices, which will be a real benefit.

“Existing practices with a CLW allocation have told us that the service has been well received by patients and many have benefitted from accessing it. Overall, most practices agreed that having the CLW service has helped save practice staff time.”

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