Social Prescribing Team Recommending Health Apps Across Merseyside
Wellbeing Enterprises CIC is a social enterprise organisation that provides support to people who are experiencing practical, social, and emotional difficulties. Each year it supports almost 5,000 people of all ages in Halton, Knowsley, St Helens, Warrington, and Wigan to improve their wellbeing.
Specialising in person and community centered health approaches, the organization puts social prescribing at the heart of its work. People undergo holistic assessments of needs and strengths and are supported to co-create Personalised Wellbeing Plans to move forward with their lives. It connects people with a broad range of one to one and group activities that help people to build confidence, form friendships and learn new skills. This includes everything from drumming and yoga lessons, to walking clubs and wellbeing courses.
Looking holistically at the people it supports, the team at Wellbeing Enterprises wanted to extend the range of self-help resources available.
After seeing the ORCHA product range commissioned by NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, it identified that a Digital Health Formulary of safe and effective apps across a range of health and wellbeing conditions would be a useful resource. Particularly as it provides assurance that the apps have been assessed for clinical and technical standards assurance.
The Formulary would provide its staff with a single platform where they could find the organisation’s preferred health apps across a range of conditions, and safely recommend one to a client by email or text message. Furthermore, the team knew that all apps featured would be continuously checked by ORCHA to ensure they meet standards.
This would be available to all staff, but in particular its wellbeing social prescribing team, who are well placed to recommend apps during a face to face and telephone support calls.
Wellbeing Enterprises worked with NHS Cheshire and Merseyside to create a set of folders within the Digital Health Formulary, designed just for the needs of its staff.
Informed by ORCHA’s in-depth assessments of 20,000 digital health technologies, and led by Bethany Harrison, Senior Wellbeing Link Worker, the Wellbeing Enterprises and Cheshire and Merseyside team worked with ORCHA to create a short list of preferred apps to support the common health and wellbeing concerns seen by the social enterprises’ clients.
Once selected, the apps were included within named folders in the Digital Health Formulary, to allow all social prescribing staff to quickly and accurately find the best app for every client.
Training in digital health and the ORCHA system was delivered to all staff. This ensured everyone feels confident recommending apps to clients and understands how they fit into the organisation’s client support pathways. This training was then followed by regular updates and tips.
The Formulary has made a big impact on the social enterprise and its clients, especially among its core social prescribing team and clients. Its staff regularly take the top spots in ORCHA’s list of ‘most active health app advocates’ in the country.
Since its introduction in January 2023, the Formulary has seen 10,000 sessions and more than 35,000 page views.
Last month alone, nine people in its core social prescribing team recommended 83 apps to people. Given NICE evidence indicates that each downloaded app saves the NHS £93 in costs, that is a positive story.
This year so far, we estimate around 700 apps have been downloaded from the recommendations sent by the Wellbeing Enterprise Team. Based on the NICE evidence, this means a saving for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside from this team alone is in excess of £65,000.
Lynn Swift, Services Manager at Wellbeing Enterprises said “We’ve enjoyed working with the ORCHA Team to collate health and wellbeing apps into a Formulary that patients and the public tell us they want and need. The feedback has been positive. It is also reassuring to know that the apps in the Formulary are reviewed by clinicians and technical experts giving assurance of safety and quality”.
Wellbeing Enterprises is a trailblazing health and wellbeing social enterprise based in the NW of England. As one of the first Community Interest Companies (CICs) in the UK, its mission is to help everyone live happier, healthier, longer lives. It does this by educating and supporting people, mobilising assets and resources in communities and working with partners to tackle the underlying causes of poor health. www.wellbeingenterprises.org.uk