“I think wellbeing grabbed my attention, which I think is really exciting”, General Practitioner.
A global pandemic that keeps on evolving, the closure of Neighbourhood Houses from being the open centres that they are, and an unbelievably stretched primary care sector hasn’t stopped this two-year project in laying the foundations for a bright wellbeing future.
To recap: The Wellbeing Scripts Building Project is led by the Central Highlands Association of Neighbourhood Houses based in Ballarat covering 14 houses across the central highland’s region of Victoria. The project was funded by the Commonwealth Governments Men’s and Women’s Health Chronic Disease Prevention Program for a two-year period 2020 to 2022.
The purpose of the project was to prototype and test a ‘light’ social prescribing approach between General Practitioners (GPs)/Health Practitioners and Neighbourhood Houses (NH). In a nutshell, this was about awareness raising of NHs and the valuable range of services and programs they offer for everyone in the community and creating an awareness for GPs of these services, and developing a simple referral mechanism/s. This is ‘light’ social prescribing, the signposting of places of referral.
We employed a human-centred design methodology, genuinely open to the question of ‘how might we’ design a process that’s agile, and easy to use in connecting these two very significant services in our communities. We conducted dialogue interviews, initiation workshops, prototyping workshops, and a whole group consolidation session which brought the communities of Bacchus Marsh, Ballarat, Creswick, and Clunes together to share their prototypes and experiences in March this year.
“Previously it was more of a chat … now it’s perhaps more let’s try to find something you could do? And so, it’s perhaps just moved a bit more of a step forward”, General Practitioner.
Our intent was to design, then then test these ideas in practice.
Neighbourhood Houses remained closed most of 2021, our most critical year for implementation. This meant that the range of socially connecting services and programs were not provided, those we had hope would be ‘referred’ to by GPs. Instead, we used the project time to develop a range of tools to assist GPs in referring to Neighbourhood Houses, available on www.chanh.org.au/wellbeingscripts. These include:
- short introductory film resources;
- localised referral templates for general practices to download and apply to their practice; and,
- a clinic poster with a QR code for health practioners.
Now what? We have recently undertaken some dialogue interviews with GP participants, dialogue interview in style to check-in on project learning, insights now on social prescribing and what the Wellbeing Scripts project might look like in the future.
“So, I think that that was sort of really useful in terms of doing the workshopping and the really sort of thinking through how you know how to access and understanding the neighbourhood house, yeah definitely just increased my awareness of that I was able to take back to the practice and we used the posters”, General Practitioner.
“The neighbourhood house has activities refer them to, but it’s about how do you actually really support people to socialize them into groups, learn how to join groups”, General Practitioner.
Now that NHs are open and offering comprehensive calendars of activities in each community this is the opportunity to refresh and boost the project by encouraging the use of the tools and templates for referral and to track this process of referral. This is the opportunity we missed due to COVID. One way to do this is our 2-minute video which guides health practitioners through ‘how to’ download and adapt a Wellbeing Script for their practice. Simple, practical, and ready for use.
What’s next? We are super excited that the Western Primary Health Network has funded a phase 2 for Wellbeing Scripts. This project is running through to September 2022 with the aim of further in-depth interviews and distilling the insights to shape a “Wellbeing Script: Framework for the Future”. This phase introduces a second cohort of GPs, practice nurses, and psychologists into shaping how a Wellbeing Script could suit their practice, and how the scaling of a Wellbeing Script approach would work for general practice uptake.