Supporting access to activities to enhance well‐being and reduce social isolation in people living with motor neurone disease

Simpson, Suzanne Janine orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9097-4516, Smith, Sandra, Furlong, Moira, Ireland, Janet and Giebel, Clarissa (2020) Supporting access to activities to enhance well‐being and reduce social isolation in people living with motor neurone disease. Health & Social Care in the Community, 28 (6). pp. 2282-2289.

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People living with Motor Neurone Disease (plwMND) have emphasised the importance of psychological support and well-being in helping them manage their condition. Social prescribing is a formal process of referring patients with largely socioeconomic and psychosocial issues to a link worker to co-design a plan to improve their health and well-being. Intervention involves supporting engagement in meaningful activities based within the individual's local community. This pilot project aimed to explore the application of social prescribing with plwMND.

A cohort of plwMND were supported by an occupational therapist and link worker to identify and access community-based activities. Qualitative interviews were completed post-intervention with the plwMND and the link workers. Findings were analysed using thematic analysis.

A total of nine plwMND took part in this pilot service, and five plwMND and four link workers were interviewed. PlwMND valued participation and wanted to engage in community-based activities. Those with mild symptomatology were able to access activities and reported a positive impact on their well-being. Those with more complex needs, particularly reduced mobility, experienced significant barriers to participation. Barriers included transport, equipment provision, lack of company to support participation and lack of confidence using mobility aids in a community environment. Link workers valued joint working with an occupational therapist.

Social prescribing aims to address the health inequalities of those living with long-term conditions, although currently it likely excludes plwMND. Future work needs to quantitatively evaluate the effects of the service on the well-being of plwMND.

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