The Scottish Government has granted £189,000 to the Improvement Service to extend the availability of money and welfare advice in healthcare settings.
The money will be used to help eight local authorities increase the number of workers who are delivering money and welfare advice in GP practices and primary care settings. It is hoped that this will make a significant contribution towards mitigating the impact of welfare reform and supporting access to benefits administered by Scotland’s Social Security Agency.
With known links between socio-economic issues and physical health, there has been a gradual increase in the number of advisors being co-located in GP practices across Scotland in response. This approach has been shown to have multiple benefits for both service users and providers.
A social value report prepared by the IS and NHS Lothian found that “as a result of having contact with advice workers in GP practices who have access to medical records: 62% of patients/clients experience improved health and wellbeing; 95% feel less stigmatised, and also report increased feelings of self-worth and 92%, particularly those who may be experiencing social and/or economic disadvantage, have improved and earlier access to services.
Medical practice staff can make better use of their time by being able to focus on medical interventions and the co-location of advice workers results in the improved delivery of cost-effective services."
The funding that is available will be used to meet initial set-up costs as staff move from a fixed office base to mobile and flexible working, to provide support with resources, materials and evaluation and to establish a virtual network to share best practice.