The Care and Wellbeing Cooperative (CWC) is a local group of self-employed carers, professionals, therapists and other specialists who together work to give people in rural Perthshire greater flexibility and choice over the support and wellbeing services available to them.
In 2012, the community-based support enterprise GrowBiz was invited by Perth and Kinross Council (PKC) to submit a proposal to support innovative, local and individual services to people with support needs in rural areas. This was in direct response to the Scottish Government’s bill advocating self-directed support.
CWC has grown into a local group of 30 self-employed carers, professionals, therapists and wellbeing specialists who offer a range of personalised alternatives to clinical treatment to deliver a person-centred approach to wellbeing.
Befriending services, nature walks, photography lessons, gardening projects, community herbalism, yoga and therapeutic creative writing covers just a selection of the activities on offer from members.
A pilot was set up to explore how CWC could offer its services through social prescribing. The pilot forged a link between CWC and the local GP surgery, using money from PKC’s Befriending Project fund – roughly £4,500.
10 patients were involved with the pilot, being referred to a range of CWC’s activities including photography, gardening, etc depending on their interests and goals.
Despite the small sample size, the project was thought to have been a positive experience by all, with GPs experiencing a noticeable improvement in each patient’s wellbeing.
CWC currently receive referrals from a range of sources, including self-referrals, GPs, community nurses, social services, carers and community organisations. After the initial pilot, CWC continues to receive 2-3 referrals from the participating GP’s surgery each month.
The social prescribing project was funded by PKC Befriending Project (£4,500) and also money from a Participatory Budget process (£1,200).
Members who provide services are also paid through SDS Option 1 or people use their own benefits or resources to pay members, depending on the service. Rates vary from £15 – £45 per hour.
Research commissioned by CWC after the pilot concluded that the programme should be opened out so that more patients can take part.
The Edinburgh-Warwick scale was adopted to measure the success of the pilot, with each patient’s wellbeing measured before, during and after the pilot.
The pilot ran for three months with 9 out of 10 patients recording an improvement in their wellbeing, which the GPs found hugely encouraging.
Further, GPs reported that investing in social prescribing would be a mutually beneficial way for the practice to handle patients who were perceived to be ‘needy’, freeing up appointment spaces.
CWC appeared as a case study in our Social Prescribing Briefing.