Two men in a gym, fist pumping over weighted bars. One is sat down and one is lay down.

The Diabetes Social Prescribing Link Worker, or Network Social Prescriber as the role is known at Gorton & Levenshulme PCN, supports people with pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes and high BMI through working with people to find out what matters to them and what they want to achieve. 

“This service has helped me so much; I have managed to make many changes to better my health and wouldn’t have known where to start without it.”

Darab had been to his GP a number of times with low mood and joint pain and was referred to the social prescribing service after being diagnosed with prediabetes.

Darab (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) is 39 and speaks limited English. He moved to England in 2016 after serving in the armed forces and has a small social network locally but his wife and children currently remain in a different country. He has recently started part time employment at a butcher’s shop, with the plan to receive further training towards full time employment. He said that what mattered to him was:

“Losing weight to improve my health and reduce the risk of getting diabetes. To stop smoking. To improve my English to support me accessing services and help my ability with work. To be able to go to the gym and to increase my knowledge about healthy eating to support weight loss.”

Zoe, the Diabetes Social Prescribing Link Worker, worked with Darab to decide what steps he needed to take to achieve his goals. They met for hourly sessions to start with and then monthly. A Pashto interpreter ensured they understood each other and could get the most out of their time together.

Zoe referred him to Be Smoke Free and English for speakers of other languages at Manchester Adult Education. She also helped him get gym membership, which Darab had struggled with because of the language barrier. Zoe liaised directly with the gym and then supported Darab with booking through his mobile app, creating a small wallet sized communication card in case of any difficulties when he was there.

To support with the healthy eating, information about prediabetes and diet was shared, with the use of an interpreter, and visual information sheets were provided.

Darab has seen the following outcomes in two months:

  •  Health confidence scale – confidence increased from 4 out of 12 to 12 out of 12
  • Weight loss – 95.8kg to 79.2kg. BMI was 30.2 now 25
  • Exercise levels – now accessing gym 4 times weekly and has increased walking in daily routine
  • Stopped smoking – previously smoking 10 cigarettes daily
  • Reduced GP appointments – now going to the GP less for joint pain, he has noticed improvements with this post weight loss
  • Increased personal wellbeing – he is experiencing overall improvements with personal health and wellbeing including mood and confidence

Darab said:

 ‘This service has helped me so much; I have managed to make many changes to better my health and wouldn’t have known where to start without it. I am now eating better, feel fitter and have lost weight.’

 Zoe Austin, Diabetes Social Prescribing Link Worker said:

“Darab’s story highlights the many good results we are seeing with the service. By breaking down goals into manageable steps, the people we work with are showing many positive changes. We also want to ensure the people we work with can maintain their behaviour change.”

Dominic Hyland, GP at Ashcroft Surgery, Levenshulme said:

“It’s very exciting and a huge relief that practices now have someone working alongside them who can provide the help people need to improve their diabetes and work with them to prevent their pre-diabetes turning into diabetes rather than relying on the existing services that many patients don’t engage with.”

Chloe MacDonald, Specialist PCN Dietitian, Gorton and Levenshulme said:

“It is a great asset to the PCN to have a dedicated Diabetes Social Prescriber, supporting patients with obesity and pre-diabetes. The service Zoe provides is exceptionally valuable to prevent patients developing chronic lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Zoe’s kind and compassionate approach has successfully motivated patients to make changes their diet and lifestyle. Furthermore, Zoe has integrated into various local groups within the diverse community of Gorton and Levenshulme to encourage engagement in the services provided and to promote healthier lifestyles.”

Zoe continued:

“Gorton & Levenshulme PCN has secen GP practices covering an ethnically diverse community within a deprived area, supporting 50,000 patients. There is a high prevalence of pre-diabetes, diabetes and high BMI, and the practices identified a need to take a new approach to how people are supported to live well. Existing diabetes programmes had low take-up, with lots of people not attending.”

“I was recruited in March 2022, alongside the Network Dietitian Chloe, and our one to one sessions commenced in May. We first spent time getting to know what was already available locally – education programmes and groups – which helped us identify what was missing and what added value we could provide.

“We work closely with community services, providing educational talks at community events around type 2 diabetes, diet and exercise, this includes talks at a Roma group within Levenshulme Old Library and the male Pashto community at Arcadia Library. We are linking in with the community to meet with peers to provide information and advice.”

“We are working on raising awareness of our service within the PCN, so more GPs are aware they can refer people to us. We don’t have any other Social Prescribing Link Workers based within the Gorton and Levensulme PCN, so the ‘more than medicine’ concept, especially around prediabetes and type 2 diabetes is relatively new to many of our colleagues but with growing examples and evidence we are showing there is another way to managing the health and happiness of our practice populations.”

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