The United Welsh Group has been re-awarded a contract to deliver a community wellbeing service on behalf of NHS Wales in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

The new 2018- 2019 year contract, which will commence on April 1st, is an extension of the Wellbeing 4U service that United Welsh launched on behalf of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board in May 2016.

Delivered by Thrive, the team that manage specialist accommodation and support services for United Welsh, Wellbeing 4U uses a Social Prescribing model to deliver public health priorities through social intervention.

With the team based across seven GP surgery hubs in Cardiff and Barry and taking referrals from 10 other surgeries across the capital and the Vale of Glamorgan, the service has already supported over 1,000 patients and reduced unnecessary GP appointments and pressure on GPs’ time.

Karen Tipple, Specialist Housing and Wellbeing Lead for United Welsh said: “As our team don’t have the same time constraints as GPs, we are able to offer a mixture of outreach, one-to-one work and signposting to community activities and the third sector while freeing up medical appointment time.

“The programmes of intervention which we establish alongside the patients can last as long as they are needed, from signposting people to wellbeing and community activities such as parenting courses and exercise options through to helping people with issues such as substance misuse or depression.

“Through the provision of specialist housing and support services, social landlords such as United Welsh have long provided opportunities to improve people’s health and capacity for self-care.

“Our partnership with the NHS is really important to us and we are delighted to have been re-awarded this contract to continue building the success of the service.”

The main areas of focus for the Wellbeing 4U service are increasing physical activity; improving diet; improving immunisation and screening uptake and helping to reduce harmful habits such as substance misuse, heavy alcohol consumption and smoking.

56-year-old Helen Worgan from Grangetown used the Wellbeing 4U service after her anxiety and depression were compounded by a seizure.

Helen said: “When the GP referred me to Wellbeing 4U I thought it would offer a few sessions and they would listen to me working through my issues. I never imagined how much more there was on offer.

“The connections the team made for me in my local community have been really beneficial, such as the mindfulness groups which have helped me to manage my day-to-day anxiety better.

To build my confidence, the team helped to involve me in local activities like a book club and yoga classes at my community centre and a local foundation. As a result, I’m attending a retreat in the next few weeks – something I would never have done before.

“I wasn’t aware of all of these groups and activities and with the help of Wellbeing 4U to access them, I have broken the cycle of isolation and started a phased return to work.”

Karen Pardy, GP and Community Director for South West Cardiff Cluster and Social Prescribing Lead for Cardiff and Vale UHB said: “As a Health Board we are committed to caring for people and keeping them well and enabling patients to access help, advice and support within their local community can help with this.

“It is estimated that 20% of patients who present to their GP have underlying social problems and we want to do our best to help our patients in all aspects of their lives which impact on their health and wellbeing.

“ Wellbeing 4U has helped us to support health and wellbeing through activities which promote physical exercise, healthy eating, and mental health as well as giving advice in social issues such as housing, benefits, employment and debt advice. This helps the individual achieve their goals and build community links and relationships to improve their mental and physical health.”

United Welsh provides housing and related services across South Wales, which includes collaborating with local authorities and health to provide specialist care projects that help people with their wellbeing and encourage independent living in the community.

Wellbeing 4U is available to anyone registered at the designated GP surgeries.