19 Jan 2023
You are not alone if you are not quite sure what support Social Services can offer any of us during difficult times. Social services are often thought of as the service that steps in to support people during times of crisis. However, they also play a large role in helping people to take preventative steps to avoid their lives from going into a downward spiral.
Social Services in Rutland perform an essential role in the community and provide a much wider range of support than you might think. This has been made possible with the help a team of social prescribing link workers, called RISE. We asked Louise, an Integrated Care Coordinator and Carla a Social Prescriber who are both part of the RISE team, to tell us a bit more about day-to-day jobs. RISE stands for “Rutland, Integrated Social Empowerment’ and empowerment really seems to be a key word to describe their role, as they do just that. The RISE team empower people who need their support, by enabling them to get access to a wide range of tools and services that can alleviate the difficulties they are facing.
It’s not an emergency service. It’s a service that presents people with preventative measures and intervention, to enable them to live safely and to protect their quality of life.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the RISE team and what they do?
Carla - "The RISE team consists of 4 people with specialist knowledge and experience in different areas (health, social care, social engagement and mental health), who work directly with GP’s and Adult Social Care to help people overcome temporary or longer-term difficulties that affect their quality of life.
We are pulled into so many situations where people require support. We can help people who are facing any of a wide range of challenges, including for example, people who suffer with long term health conditions, or issues with mobility, sight or hearing, as well as people who have learning difficulties or a mental health condition. It’s really any time when a person, or their carer need support to help maintain their quality of life and independence."
What is your approach when you meet people who need your help?
Louise - "The most important thing for us to do is to listen to people and identify what is important in their life. It might even be the small things that are key and that can directly affect their quality of life. Some people, particularly some elderly patients can at first seem reluctant to talk to us, because there is often a fear is that social services are there to encourage people to go into a care home, as soon as their life gets more difficult. That is not our role at all! It’s quite the opposite. We are there to help people get access to tools and services that will help them to stay safe and independent for as long as possible.
A great example of this was when we helped an elderly lady who was independent but had experienced several bad falls when she slipped outside her house. It turned out that she was trying to get to her garage at the time, as that was where her dryer was. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to move the dryer to a safer place inside the home, as there was no room. Her family was understandably worried about whether she would be able to continue to live on her own, as the lady still insisted that she needed to be able to dry her clothes. So, we helped her to get a washing machine with and integrated dryer, which replaced her old washing machine at home. It was a very simple solution, but it kept her safe and independent, which is exactly what she and her family wanted. Even the simplest solutions and interventions can be very effective."
What about carers who look after someone at home, are you able to offer them support as well?
Carla - "Yes, absolutely. When we visit someone who is being cared for, we also try and make sure the carer is receiving what they need. Carers fulfil a very important but difficult role, and they are often overlooked and can be taken for granted. genuine difference to someone’s quality of life. We come across many people who expect to care for their partners and also some who are happy to care for their parents, but this can become overwhelming. It’s easy to neglect your own needs when you are putting someone else’s needs first. Often when we ask a carer how they are getting on, they will tell us that they are ‘managing’. But in our opinion, just managing is not enough. We would like people to be able to do more than that and live to enjoy their lives! We try to help carers by identifying what specific aspects of their caring role they are struggling with. A lot of our role is about networking, so we are able to show home carers a wide range of support services, tools, activities or in some cases financial support that might be available to help them overcome their difficulties. Not all support services are available free of charge, but there are more services than you would expect, and they can make a difference. It’s important to stress that we are not there to take decisions for people. We are there to show people the options available to them, to help them overcome their difficulties."
How does RISE differ from social prescribing services in other counties?
Louise - "Our team is slightly different in that we work closely with both GP’s and Adult Social Care who will refer people to us. This doesn’t usually happen in other counties. Our focus is not on ‘Thresholds’ that must apply before we can engage with someone and support them. We are not an emergency service, but instead we focus on providing preventative measures, to protect people’s safety and quality of life to ensure that they never have to go into a downward spiral. We are also fortunate in Rutland in having a team of people who have specialist knowledge in different areas so that we can help with a broad range of issues more quickly."
Can anyone call you for help?
Louise - "Yes absolutely. Many people are referred to us by their GP or by adult Social Care, but anyone who feels they need help can get in touch with us. If you are aware of someone who is struggling, the best thing to do is to tell the person how they can get in touch with us. We can only support someone, once they have approached us directly and asked us for help."
Isolation can be a big problem for many people in Rutland particularly during bereavement. Are you able to provide support for this too?
Carla - "We come across many people who feel isolated, and this can be for all sorts of reasons. `Sometimes it results from having reduced mobility. I have come across people who would like to go to an activity or an event but worry that it will just too difficult with a wheelchair or mobility scooter. We can help them with solutions to get around this problem, so that they can go on and enjoy their usual activities. We have also helped people who have been isolated following a bereavement, by giving them access to bereavement help points and bereavement support services. There are also befriending services, which can be very helpful. It’s always important to listen to people and to try and understand what interests they have. We can then make them aware of activities that suit them and that can help them get back to a point where they can be more active and social."
What do you most enjoy about your job?
Louise - "Our jobs are hugely rewarding. What we do is mostly preventative, but this can sometimes make the difference between life and death. We are also able to help some people regain the happiness they previously had in their lives, by helping to overcome their difficulties. The most rewarding thing is to see people smile again and knowing we have been able to make a difference."
RISE is here to help any Rutland resident over 18 years of age, who is experiencing social isolation, or who requires help with general health and wellbeing and lifestyle changes. They can also help with onward referrals to other professionals within voluntary and statutory agencies.
For more information, visit: https://services.thejoyapp.com/en/listings/949