Lorn and Oban Healthy Options (LOHO) focuses its activities around four core services, all of which have their foundations around a social prescription model.
Clients may be referred to LOHO by their GP or other health professional, but can also self-refer if they feel the need to make lifestyle changes to improve their health and wellbeing. The relatively rural setting of LOHO, combined with the popularity of its services, means that word of mouth contributes to the number of self-referrals they receive.
Its mainstream service involves a one-to-one consultation after referral, so that a tailored programme of activities can be developed to improve wellbeing. The range of activities can include supervised gym sessions, move well classes and group walks, among others.
While signposting other services is an important part of LOHO’s work, clients are also offered more structured support to progress on to other community initiatives which would benefit the individual’s wellbeing. The emphasis is on fostering a client’s independence, giving them agency over their journey to wellbeing.
LOHO’s outreach service also works on a referral basis, providing access to health and wellbeing activities in rural locations to reach people for whom transport or mobility is an issue.
LOHO’s Argyll Networks Project reaches out to those who are faced with health and social challenges arising from social isolation, long-term unemployment, mental health, drug or alcohol problems. Again, working on a referral basis, activities include Zumba, tennis, archery, outdoor adventure activities and walking football.
Finally, LOHO’s Re-ablement programme specifically targets clients who are frail and at high risk of hospital admission or increased care packages in the community. Referrals come specifically from physiotherapists who assess clients and establish a rehab programme, which the LOHO exercise professional then delivers at home on a 1:1 basis over a six to eight-week period.
“A lot of what we do really forms the basis of people creating their own support networks, whether that’s being able to return to a work environment or being able to engage with activities which keeps them well,” development manager Gill Spink explains.
“We’re very lucky in this area to have many community organisations working together, which is fantastic not only for the development of what we’re doing, but also in signposting individuals who can then progress with their journey of health and wellbeing.”
LOHO’s model focuses on using existing community assets and organisations as delivery partners – including Atlantis Community Leisure, village and church halls, sport clubs, leisure organisations etc.
To date, the majority of LOHO’s funding has come from grants from charitable trusts – either as a one-off funding or two and three-year grants. LOHO also receives one-year contracts to deliver health programmes from Argyll & Bute Health and Social Care Partnership.
Committed to its objectives of reducing health inequalities, the cost of LOHO’s activities and services is currently free. However, if a client is in a position to pay towards their programme then that fee is passed on to any delivery partner.
LOHO is in the process of moving towards longer term contracts and partnerships with existing funding bodies. They are also exploring ways in which to increase their social enterprise activity within exercise, health and wellbeing areas in order to decrease dependency on grant funding.
LOHO’s social prescription model can vastly improve an individual’s quality of life by improving their physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.
This might be individuals who are experiencing a poor quality of life, those who are socially isolated, housebound or are affected by a chronic illness or disability which is preventing them realising the potential of their lives.
LOHO currently averages around 30 referrals each month into its mainstream service, with around three referrals each month for its six to eight-week intensive Reablement programme. In total, there is an average of over 200 active clients each month. In 2018, across all four of its core services, LOHO delivered over 7,000 interventions.
One of the core principals of Healthy Options is that we are collaborative in our community and that if the problem is within the community, then the solution is in the community.