Member Spotlight – Marie Adams, Social Prescriber & NALW Expert

Member Spotlight- Marie Adams

Meet Marie, Social Prescriber at Fareham & Portchester PCN.

Please summarise your role responsibilities

My day-to-day role is a mix of patients of all ages, home visits, face to face andtelephone calls. Working closely with the GP surgery teams and PCN colleagues’ patients are referred to me, Internally & Externally. I make contact and arrange the best way to manage the support I offer patients.

Prior to this role I was a Community Development Manager and raised £1 million to develop groups and improved the infrastructure to deliver services. Using these skills, I have been able to support local groups to develop their Governance and apply for funding to increase capacity and increase services.

What is your most significant accomplishment in your role?

Working with the Hampshire & IOW CCG production of the Social Prescribing Link Workers Handbook, that supported PCNs in the development of the systems and procedures needed to support Social Prescribers in these new non-clinical roles.

Supporting patients to move forward, gaining confidence and develop skills. One of my first achievements was a young man aged 20 was first referred to me as being made homeless as his mother needed him to move out as she was having a baby in a few months. He was suffering with severe anxiety, not trusting anyone due to bullying and not knowing how to change his life. Initially he kept cancelling his appointment, but I just kept talking to him until one day he said he wanted to meet me at his Drs surgery. Well, I will never forget our first meeting, he insisted on bringing me a Costa Coffee and was going to town to get us one to bring to the surgery, I did expect a lukewarm coffee. He couldn’t get to town and despite getting on and off the bus at the next stop he went home and ordered a takeaway coffee for both of us. He texted me to say he was running late and when he arrived at the surgery texted me as he couldn’t come in. I met him at the door and took him down to my room, he tried to talk, but nothing made sense, I just told him to get his breath and a good 10 mins later we started our chat. At no time did I get annoyed or say it was an issue, the luxury a Social Prescriber has is time and I had booked a 1.5 hr for this appointment. He started to chat to me and during our conversation he mentioned his overeating of takeaways. He told me he regularly comfort ate as he found it relieved his stress. I quickly typed up a weekly timetable for him to note down all his meals and food orders. To be honest I never know if people will do what I have suggested, but he did. Within two weeks of filling out the timetable and noting down all of his eating habits, he realised how much he was eating, and I was able to give him information and guidance on healthy eating and the effect his poor diet was having on his body. When I say his diet was really bad, it was not unusual for him to order and consume 19 hash browns and 3 Sausage McMuffin’s for breakfast – in the evening he could be ordering a meal for 8 such as 4 curries, rice, side dishes and accompaniments. He wanted to have a future and we wanted to work in the Hospital as a porter, he had contacted the volunteering team and out of 165 applicants he was one of 36 volunteers who started at Queen Alexandra Hospital running the COVID Bag-drop off station. He had to talk to people and became very popular with patients, families, and colleagues. He was very unfit and having to walk throughout the hospital his physical fitness improved.

He was given an opportunity to support the GoodSAM Responder program. All these achievements were being noticed by the Management and he was offered a paid role and is studying Healthcare with Health Science with the Open University. The reason for the referral was he was being made homeless, as you can see, so much more was achieved. Whilst this was over a long period of time my input was over 4 months and then he would contact an update of what has been happening. The last time he made contact he was in a relationship, and they were looking into moving in together.

What is the biggest challenge you are currently facing?

Working with a diverse range of patients of all ages can be tricky when you contact one after the other and the support needed is very different. I have noticed that I have to manage my personal mental health and take time out for breaks and as needed, whilst my patients think I am Super Woman, I’m not and have to make time for me.

Do you have any words of wisdom for Social Prescribing Link Workers and/or Social Prescribing Programmes?

Social Prescribers are the future of the NHS and as such we need to make sure our voice is heard in developing the local and national service.

GPs are comfortable with clinical pathways and not so confident with non-clinical pathways. We need to be guiding the development of our service so that it is fit for purpose today and the long-term future.

What do you do for fun when not working?

When not working I spend time with my husband of 32 years, going to the theatre and visiting places at the weekend.

How does National Association of Link Workers add value to Social Prescribing and Link Workers?

To have an independent professional organisation is key, Social Prescribing is non model specific and it is so important to have somewhere for all of us to go regardless of who we work for or how our service is provided, a platform for all of us to share, learn, network, develop and support each other.

How has NALW supported you in your role?

NALW has given me a voice to promote Social Prescribing. I have been involved with the development of publications, speaking to GPs and NHS leaders at conferences and on-line meetings. Recently I was honoured to be invited to The Association Excellence Awards 2022 where we were presented with a bronze award for the Best Awareness Campaign or Advancement of a cause.

How has NALW supported your career development?

Through the CPD and online training I have been able to evidence my work, and this has been used in my annual appraisal.

How does NALW add value to Social Prescribing Link Workers?

NALW gives Social Prescriber’s a voice, it is constantly promoting the essential work we are doing and ensuring the non-clinical role is here to stay!


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