Dr Saul Reyes, a neurologist from Colombia, is working with the Barts MS team for a year and is exploring the concept of social prescribing and the possibility of incorporating it into the Barts MS service.
To kick-start this he spoke to the MS Advisory Group in February earlier this year. He then set up a meeting with Alyson McGregor the National Director of an organization called Altogether Better to enlist her help and advice.
Altogether Better is a pioneering organization servicing the NHS with the sole purpose of working in health and social care to develop ‘collaborative practice, a new way of organizing that makes life better for everyone.’ Please check out the website for their interesting and original ways of practicing this ideal.
Saul also invited the MS Advisory Group to this meeting with Alyson and asked if we could bring a family member if possible. One Advisory Group member brought along his sister and another brought her two teenage daughters.
Alyson explained that she had just met with the entire Barts MS team to discuss the idea of introducing social prescribing initiatives to the Barts MS service. She reported that they were very enthusiastic about this idea.
As a group of 8 we were split to into three smaller groups and asked that as people diagnosed with and affected by MS, ‘ What would we want to make our life better? It could be absolutely anything!’
The feedback to the entire group was interesting in that no one asked for anything specific to MS, but all of our requests and thoughts were based on social access and support and the ability to meet that need by very practical means.
Our wants and ideals were wide ranging; from more practical transportation solutions and ways of knowing the access and bathroom facilities in a venue to a targeted intervention to support children of parents with MS and ways of meeting and socializing, for example a wine tasting group or trip.
Alyson took notes and departed saying that she would write up the meeting and planned to meet us all again soon to discuss our ideas further.
It is hoped that we will continue this conversation and discussion in early June.
By Bonnie Boskovic
Barts MS Advisory Group