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Involve Kent

How Involve Kent were able to achieve a 24% increase in community wellbeing with Social Prescribing and HSCN connectivity

Knowledge Centre
  • The Social Prescribing service had significantly expanded since launch

  • COVID-19 meant that services were in higher demand

  • Link workers needed to be able to access the HSCN wherever they were based including during isolation and lockdown periods

The Challenge

Health and wellbeing improvement is an important factor in patient care, with the NHS Long Term Plan stating that personalised care must become ‘business as usual’ across the health and care system by 2023/24. However, looking after health and wellbeing can be difficult.

Many patients visit their GP for help and support which actually isn’t best placed with the GP to offer advice on. One of the key commitments outlined in the NHS England Comprehensive Model for Personalised Care was that over 1000 social prescribing link workers should be in place by 2020/21 to free GP resources and allocate services and support to communities more effectively.

In 2018, Involve Kent launched its Social Prescribing service to tackle the root causes of ill health including isolation, loneliness, disadvantage and frailty - leading the development of Social Prescribing in the region in partnership with the NHS and local health service providers. The service aimed to work with the community to offer advice, encouragement and help to be more active, improve lifestyle and resolve any problems affecting health.

Following the success of the initial launch, the team and the service had expanded significantly. In order to deliver the newly expanded service, link workers needed to be able to access patient records, appointments and other data only accessible from the National Health Service’s Health & Social Care Network (HSCN).

The team were already operating relatively remotely prior to 2020. However when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the UK, the Social Prescribing services were in even higher demand - but needed to be delivered in a fully remote capacity with access to the HSCN available wherever the prescribers were based.

There were a number of options in the market which were considered for the provision of connectivity to the HSCN, however with long lead times and other barriers to an easy deployment, there was a lack of flexibility to get link workers up and running quickly and potential delays. A new perspective was needed.

The Solution
  • End-to-end connectivity to securely connect Involve Kent’s Social Prescriber staff to the HSCN, wherever they’re based

  • Cloud-native Health Connect platform deployed rapidly

  • HSCN connectivity with secure remote access for staff provisioned and onboarded in just 5 weeks from the first engagement

The Health Connect platform from Cloud Gateway is a cloud-native solution which can be deployed rapidly and includes features to securely connect users, wherever they’re based, to the Health & Social Care Network (HSCN).

Involve Kent’s new Health Connect platform, with scalable HSCN connectivity and secure remote access, was fully provisioned in just 5 weeks from the first engagement with Involve Kent.

The remote access connections harness the security of the Health Connect platform to secure and manage traffic while in transit and can be accessed wherever an internet connection is available.

As a cloud-based solution Health Connect is instantly scalable, including easily adding remote users, which has freed Involve Kent from the limitations of physical infrastructure.

The Impact
  • The work of Social Prescribers in GP surgeries has reduced appointments by 12%

  • A&E attendances have been reduced by 12% and secondary care stays by 11%

  • Patients reported a 24% increase in wellbeing with 62% reporting feeling less lonely and isolated

Involve Kent is a charity established in 1975 to develop volunteering and communities. They are now leaders in social prescribing and other innovative approaches to improve wellbeing in communities.

"The Health Connect platform was the slickest and simplest solution on the market and the speed of service from the Cloud Gateway team was very impressive. Once on the network our link workers are able to deliver a valuable service to the community."
Mark Fanciulli / Digital & IT Lead, Involve Kent

Now Involve Kent has Health Connect with secure remote access and HSCN connectivity in place, link workers can securely access patient information on the HSCN wherever they’re based. The Social Prescribing service, enabled by this connectivity, supports personalised care and improved wellbeing across the whole of the community.

The work of link workers in the Social Prescribing team has reduced unnecessary GP appointments in the region by 12%. A&E attendances have been reduced by 12% and secondary care stays such as hospital stays have been reduced by 11%.

Crucially, patients have reported a 24% increase in wellbeing as a result of the service with 62% of people in the community reporting feeling less lonely and isolated.

The HSCN connectivity now benefits other services which Involve Kent offer including the Children’s Health and Wellbeing service which focuses on helping under 18s and their families and improves support for children and young people with mental health, neurodevelopmental and other health conditions.

"Working with Cloud Gateway has enabled us to deliver essential services to our communities and supports Involve Kent’s mission to achieve healthy, connected people and communities in the region and to improve health through quality social prescribing and community navigation services."
Gary Wells / Deputy CEO, Involve Kent
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