During a special presentation at Nottinghamshire Business Park on Tuesday 7 June, Stephanie Smith and Matthew Bird from the Nottinghamshire Carers Association (NCA) awarded the Carer Friendly Service Quality Mark to Primary Integrated Community Services (PICS) Social Prescribing Service ‘for their continued commitment to help support carers’.

Social Prescribing Link Workers Yvonne Gregory and Joanna Litton received the award on behalf of the teams, alongside Nicky Render from the Leadership Team and Ali Sutherland, representing the PICS Board.

Left to right, Ali Sutherland (PICS), Joanna Litton (PICS), Matthew Bird (NCA), Nicky Render (PICS), Stephanie Smith (NCA) and Yvonne Gregory (PICS).

PICS runs the Social Prescribing Service on behalf of the local GP surgeries for residents in Broxtowe, Newark, Mansfield, Sherwood and Ashfield. They provide help with issues that cause strain, worry and low mood.

The NCA Judging Panel said is was ‘an absolute pleasure’ to award the mark, and it was ‘exceptional’ for PICS to be the first Social Prescribing Service that they have accredited in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. They particularly highlighted the impact of partnership working between PICS and NCA that has increased referrals to the Nottinghamshire Carers Hub (TuVida), demonstrating significant success in finding ‘hidden carers’.

The ceremony was part of the UK’s annual Carers’ Week celebrations, which celebrates and recognises the vital contribution of the UK’s unpaid carers and this year focuses on ‘making caring visible and valued’.

National research shows 1 in 4 adults provided unpaid care during the height of the pandemic and it is estimated by Carers UK that there were nearly 190,00 carers within Nottinghamshire in 2021 (Carers UK, 2021).

Carers across Nottinghamshire have faced new challenges with many people taking on more caring responsibilities for their friends and family, and so Nottinghamshire Carers Association (NCA) are inviting organisations across the county to recognise the vital contribution made by unpaid carers in Nottinghamshire.

Kelvin Lim, Medical Director of PICS said: “I am very proud of the Social Prescribing team who have gone above and beyond to care for so many residents and improve their health and wellbeing. They have skilfully identified many ‘hidden’ carers, listened to what they’ve needed and provided signposting and support.

“We’re very grateful to the NCA team who provide really important resources. By working together to empower carers, we can enable early interventions and care for the carers well before they reach breaking point.”

Stephanie Smith (second from right in the photo above), Health Liaison Worker, said: “We were bombarded with staff coming on board when we initially offered them some training. The team have shown a real commitment to carers that is now embedded in their approach, and staff keep coming back for resources so they can do even more. We are getting a lot more referrals for carers to get support.

“The training we offer clarifies what a carer is in law and explains their rights. “We’ve seen that this knowledge is being shared across more services within PICS and we are really excited that our close partnership will continue to grow.”

What is Social Prescribing?

People who are registered with their local GP surgery can see their Social Prescribing Link Workers for help with issues that cause strain, worry and low mood. The team have already helped hundreds of people get on top of issues with their finances, employment, housing, isolation and loneliness, lifestyle changes and caring responsibilities. The development and growth of Social Prescribing services are part of the NHS Long Term Plan to personalise care. Emerging evidence indicates that social prescribing schemes may lead to a reduction in the use of NHS services, including GP attendance. 59% of GPs think social prescribing can help reduce their workload.

What’s next?

More PICS services are working with the NCA to become accredited with the Care Friendly Service Quality Mark, and PICS is also pledging to become a carer-friendly employer.