Let's take a brief wander back to the 16th century. Doctors were either physicians (who could treat anything on the surface of the body) or surgeons (who could remove ill bits of the body). Problem-fest: surgical tools hadn't been invented yet, and there was no surgical training, so the best person for the job was the local butcher or barber. Yikes. So if you wanted to avoid the filleting-knife, your physician could mix their own remedy of a pinch of goodness-knows-what with a dash of let's-cross-our-fingers. Basically more lotions and potions than Hermione Granger could shake a stick at. Infections and workplace injuries were common (just watch Poldark and you'll understand).
Fast-forward to 2019 and I'd like to think we often do improve people's lives. Oh, and we don't use meat cleavers or guess work with medication. And - jazz hands - we also have a third treatment option to add to medication and surgery: the fur-lined, ocean-going, diamante-encrusted entity of 'social prescribing'.
I sense a giant tumble-weed.
Let me explain: We already know that not all problems can be fixed by a tablet. Many symptoms are actually tell-tale signs of underlying issues such as loneliness, anxiety, depression, adapting to a long-term illness, bereavement, or poverty. How can tablets alone mend these difficulties?
Social prescribing is often excellent here. Instead of "would you like to try this medicine daily for a month?", we might suggest "have you considered joining York Bike Belles' group?". I see you raising your eyebrows in disbelief, but it really works. Did you know that music therapy helps calm agitation in people with Alzheimer’s? The need for medication can be reduced by 67%!
We're going to use community organisations, local charities and clubs to support and help patients with these conditions and many more. You don't need a referral letter and there's usually no waiting list. A breath of fresh air (actually quite literally - as many of these groups are based in the lovely York outdoors). We hope to soon have access to a 'link worker' who will help us with this, as well as supporting patients with very practical difficulties such as benefits and housing problems.
York has a huge range of enthusiastic groups. Check out these for starters (web links in green):
Kyra women’s Project - lovely supportive services for women with all sorts of difficulties.
Telephone: 01904 632332
St Nick's Fields - centre for nature and green living.
Lots of volunteer opportunities available
Knit and natter - friendly craft sessions, knitting needles not essential!
Dringhouses library, Tuesdays 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Copmanthorpe FC - inclusive disability football.
Telephone 01904 704256
GoodGym York - group of runners combining exercise with helping our communities.
Lidgett Grove Methodist Church Acomb, every Friday 12 noon - 2pm
Telephone: 01904 792702 / 07516 708325
Tang Hall Community Centre, alternate Sundays 2pm - 4pm
Telephone: 01904 431492
Parkrun - free local community 5k run at your own pace: set your alarm clock, grab your trainers and choose from Heslington, the Knavesmire and New Earswick.
Every Saturday at 9am.
Next week: recycling gobbits and an update on our (mega) crisp packet collection...