“Supporting people living with cancer to find their feet again”: Social Prescribing in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin

Many things that affect our health can’t be fixed by a medical prescription. People living with cancer have varied needs, and cancer can affect all aspects of a person’s life; from relationships, to work to financial pressures. Cancer can have a huge emotional impact on the individual and those around them.  

However, by talking to a Social Prescriber, a role that is part of the wider General Practice (GP) team, people living with cancer can be supported to identify problems and make plans to change the circumstances that are affecting their health for the better. 

Kirsty Jarman, a Social Prescriber working in South Shropshire, has proudly shared how her role can help people through difficult times, and how specifically she can support people when facing a cancer diagnosis.  

“For those not sure about the role of a Social Prescriber, in a nutshell, we are professionals who help people to organise their thoughts and problems into manageable, bitesize chunks, and tackle them by priority. Within the Social Prescribing team, some of us are Cancer Champions which means we have received additional training to help us to be more aware of cancer and the different diagnoses.  

“People who are on a cancer journey can be referred to us at any time. Often, Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialists and Cancer Care Navigators provide similar support to a Social Prescriber whilst people are receiving treatment. Sometimes people come to us after their treatment has finished and they may be asking the question: ‘What now?’ We can support them after their treatment has ended and help them find their feet again. 

“We can support with a range of problems, such as helping people look at benefit entitlements if their health needs have changed, as well as helping with referrals for an occupational therapy assessment, so they can live as independently as possible. We can also help with other problems such as finding useful information and advising about rights within the workplace. Macmillan Information and Support Centres are available and work in collaboration with Social Prescribing colleagues. 

“For everyone I see, I provide a non-judgmental, safe space for them to be vulnerable at a time when they may be having to hold it together. I’m a person that they can be themselves with, and not just their condition. Sometimes I offer them the welcome distraction they need and the opportunity to talk about other interests.  

“One of the best things about an appointment with a Social Prescriber is that they are longer than the typical 10-minute GP or consultant appointment. We also offer ongoing support for up to three months and we really get to know the people we work with. It also isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ service, and individuals can come back to us at any time for more support. 

“I see people from all kinds of backgrounds, facing a wide range of problems, and at different points in their journey with cancer. Every appointment is different and based around what the person needs, what is important to them and what support they might already have in place. All our work is person-centred, and the person is at the heart of what we do.  

“My job is incredibly rewarding, and to know that I’ve supported someone to make a positive difference to their life is an amazing feeling. I would encourage anyone to find out more about Social Prescribing whether they have been diagnosed with cancer or are wanting to find help for difficult problems in general. There is so much support out there and it can make such a wonderful difference to someone’s wellbeing.” 

Further information and get a referral: 

The Personalised Care team at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals (SaTH) has developed a Living With and Beyond Cancer App, which includes cancer support advice, useful information, and wellbeing advice, as well as information about community services such as the Social Prescribing teams. 

The app is also used by professionals as a resource for information, events, and support and has been praised by Social Prescribers for its helpfulness and having the information in one place. The team also holds monthly Living Well Sessions, open to anybody affected by cancer which and working with the Social Prescribing team. To find out more about the app, please click here. 

People can get help by asking any member of staff at their GP practice for a referral. Referrals can also be made by other services, such as the police service, fire service, or other NHS services (e.g., weight management). 

For more information on Shropshire’s Social Prescribing service, please click here. Residents can also self-refer by phoning 0345 678 9028 or by emailing healthylives@shropshire.gov.uk with the subject line ‘Social Prescribing self-referral’.

In Telford and Wrekin, Telford Mind and Teldoc both provide Social Prescribing services. Please click here for more information from Telford Mind and here for more information from Teldoc.   

For more information on extended healthcare teams throughout the county, visit the NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin website.

Page last updated 26 March 2024