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Patients at the first outreach clinic speak to Gillingham’s social prescribers

Gillingham Medical Practice has launched its Wellbeing One Stop outreach clinic, an intiative to help those considered ‘frail’ in the hope that early intervention will help them live a better quality of life.

The appointment-only ‘pop-up’ wellbeing clinic will be held every three weeks in Gillingham Library; here, patients will rotate through the clinic, speaking to a variety of healthcare professionals such as advanced nurse practitioners, health care assistants and Gillingham’s social prescribers, as well as representatives from organisations such as Age UK, the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and Healthwatch Dorset.

‘About 75 percent of our population are aged over 65 years old and high numbers are frail but not house-bound,’ says Julie Tidbury, practice manager at Gillingham Medical Practice and whose idea the outreach clinic is. ‘The hope is that by seeing people in this way, we can keep people in their own homes and living a better quality of life.’

She looked to Sturminster Newton’s Blackmore Vale clinic when setting up the clinic and she is keen to hear from those who believe they can help. ‘We take a partnership approach and welcome anyone who can offer services to frail patients,’ she says.

The clinic, part of the NHS England Ageing Well Programme, will be held on Wednesday mornings throughout the year and those given appointments are chosen by doctors at Gillingham Medical Practice. ‘Frailty is now a recognised medical syndrome, one that combines natural ageing with multiple long-term conditions’, explains Dr Kathryn Mounde, a GP Partner at Gillingham Medical Practice. ‘Those who receive appointments are those we consider at risk of falling or who have already fallen, those with long-term conditions such as issues with their heart, osteoporosis and diabetes and are on lots of medication.

‘We can’t reverse the condition but we can help prevent the negative consequences of it and help people to age well. The clinic will, perhaps, enable us to pick up on something that needs a doctor’s involvement, a pharmicist can rationalise medication, check on side-effects and that patients they have a dosage box to help them take their medication properly. We hope we can also pick up on early memory issues. The library was chosen as a venue to de-medicalise the clinic and to make it more community-focused; people also can find it easier to share their concerns with others who are not a doctor.’

The practice has found that many patients live alone. ‘We know a lot of our patients are very lonely and that the GP is the only person that they see in a two to three week period,’ says Julie Tidbury. ‘We hope that the clinic will help there too, giving people a chance to socialise and find out what activities and events they could, perhaps, join in with.’

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