Why GP surgeries could be great community hubs

We know people go to their GP surgeries for social interaction. One in ten GP appointments is taken by an older person with no other condition than that they’re lonely. But GPs are stretched and appointments are limited. That’s why, during our Winter Wellbeing project, we’re joining forces with a surgery in Hulme, organising social activities in the waiting room, and helping patients to connect with social activities in the local area.   

Your local GP surgery is a trusted space. It’s warm, accessible and local to its  community. And it normally has one, possibly under-utilised, open space… the waiting room.

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Generally these are spaces where you sit for half an hour while you wait for your name to be called, perhaps browsing a leaflet or two or glued to your Instagram feed. But what if these spaces could become community hubs that  supports our older neighbours? A space that the whole community could use to learn about how to improve their wellness and to connect with organisations that are nearby.

That is exactly what Manchester Cares is trialling in partnership with Cornbrook Medical Practice in Hulme. In October, we held a Social Club for patients aged over 65, right in the waiting room, with lots of tea, coffee, cake, and a quiz. Alan (74), Maureen (71) and Mary (73) all met each other for the first time, and left knowing more people within their community – alongside absolutely smashing the general knowledge, animals and ‘famous Alans’ rounds in the quiz.

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  • Over 300 individuals were sent a letter or a text, not only inviting them to the practice for the social club, but also sharing information about our Winter Wellbeing project.
  • Over 20 people – aged between 66 and 83 – attended the Coffee & Quiz afternoon. – and are excited about attending our future social clubs.
  • We’ve connected with a further 10 members of the community who couldn’t attend on the day but who wanted to find out more about keeping warm, active, healthy and connected. Each will receive an invite to our Social Clubs each month and has been given the option of being introduced to a younger neighbour who could visit them once a week.We’re also helping to connect them  with other activities in their area.

“Thank you for putting on such a fun activity. I didn’t know what to expect, and nearly didn’t come, but I’m so glad I did. It’s great to meet new people that live nearby.”

At the quiz we met Pauline (83). Pauline spends over £100 every month on her gas and electricity to keep her home warm - and keeping warm is essential for her to look after her health and cope with long term health conditions that affect her ability to get out independently. After visiting Pauline at home, we are really pleased to be able to award a Winter Wellbeing Grant to help  her pay for her high heating bills over the coldest months of the year, and to go towards purchasing a winter coat to enable her to stay warm when out collecting her shopping.

Cornbrook Medical Practice are a shining example of a practice going above and beyond for its patients and we are so grateful to be working with the team. We can’t wait for another Social Club this month and for the Christmas Carols concert (also being held in the waiting room!) in December.

If you work for a GP surgery in Manchester and are interested in discussing how Manchester Cares could partner with you, we’d love to hear from you! Email [email protected].  

Some names have been changed.

Amy Saunders

Posted by Amy Saunders on Tuesday 13th November 2018

Amy is Manchester Cares' Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator.

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