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About us

Health Connections Mendip (HCM) is an innovative service that is increasingly cited nationally and internationally as a successful and effective model of community development and social prescribing. Based in the Somerset district of Mendip, the initiative offers a range of services, including community development, peer support, a website directory, EMIS patient record system, social prescribing, one-to-one support and Community Connector training to enable people living in Mendip to improve personal and community resilience. The Health Connections Mendip team is hosted by Frome Medical Practice on behalf of the 10 Mendip GP practices with a total practice population of over 115,000 patients.

Started in 2013, Health Connections Mendip has worked in an innovative, dynamic, organic way to create a model which is based on trust and doing what is right for/with people and the community. We look for opportunities and work alongside people to shine a light on the things that people want more of and want to share; and to help draw energy and creativity into areas where people want to get involved in finding their own solutions to things that are important to them. By being the glue and helping create connections we have shown the impact of a can-do model that is based on trust, kindness, creativity and connections.

We have visitors from around the world with whom we share our model. We have scores of press articles, news items on radio and TV and documentaries. Sometimes the press have called our work Compassionate Frome – we call ourselves Health Connections Mendip and for the Frome work, The Frome Model or the Frome Model of Enhanced Primary Care. We work across Mendip not just in Frome.

A wide range of interventions

Using a combination of interventions, HCM aims to reach as many people as possible and as such has multiple points of access. Although primary care is at the heart of the model, services are not solely accessible via a healthcare professional. For complex cases, there is a team of Health Connectors who offer one-to-one support. However, members of the public are able to get involved in a number of other ways: self referral to one to one support; undertake training in order to signpost other members of the community to services; attend training; set up support groups or attend groups.

Reports and leaflets

 

Knowledge share

If you are from an organisation looking to learn more about the Health Connections Model, we offer a variety of knowledge share services and support

In the press

videos

The project tackling isolation and illness that’s cutting admissions and saving NHS money | ITV News

BBC Video. The Town Trying to Cure Loneliness

Articles

Quartz and World Economic Forum
How a small British town used social connections to make residents happier and healthier
December, 2019

Resurgence magazine
Tackling loneliness and isolation reduces health bill
April 2018

The Guardian Paper
The town that’s found a potent cure for illness – community
Wed 21 Feb 2018

British Journal of General Practice
Reducing emergency hospital admissions: a population health complex intervention of an enhanced model of primary care and compassionate communities
Novemeber 2018

NHS England
Social prescribing – link workers, primary care and mobilising communities
July 2019

Shift design
Case Study: The Frome Model of Enhanced Primary Care
April 2019

Reasons to be cheerful
Treating Loneliness as a Medical Condition
August 2019

Frequently asked questions

Our current model in Mendip
Started in 2013, Health Connections Mendip has worked in an innovative, dynamic, organic way to create a model which is based on trust and doing what is right for/with people and the community. We look for opportunities and work alongside people to shine a light on the things that people want more of and want to share; and to help draw energy and creativity into areas where people want to get involved in finding their own solutions to things that are important to them. By being the glue and helping create connections we have shown the impact of a can-do model that is based on trust, kindness, creativity and connections.We achieve this through our health connectors, community connectors and our groups.

How many patients do you support?
Each full-time health connector has a caseload of 200-250 a year but we also support people through groups and training sessions.

Are you from Compassionate Communities?
No, we called Health Connections Mendip and our work alongside Frome Medical Practice is often referred to as Compassionate Frome. We call the work between Health Connections Mendip and the Frome Medical Practice Care Coordination team (and lots of other partners) – the Frome Model. Dr Julian Abel, from Compassionate Communities, discovered our work a few years ago and he wrote the article about the work in Frome which was picked up by the Guardian. He also now supports other areas with our type of work.

Can I come and visit to just see what you do?
Yes, we can arrange a visit and we have different options available.

Why was Health Connections Mendip set-up
It was set up for patients in Mendip who would like support with health and wellbeing issues and to link with community groups/services.

When was it set-up?
2013

How is your service funded?
Somerset CCG and as we are growing we are also funded by other partners.

Are you a charity?
No we are all employed by Frome Medical Practice.

Is your service run by volunteers?
No, all our Health Connectors are employed and trained and experienced in their roles.

The service does have Community Connectors who are members of the community, they know what’s out there and signpost friends, family, colleagues and neighbours to support in the own community. Community Connectors are very effective at integrating with their local communities – providing a bridge between local people and other services and building community knowledge.

Who is your service for? 
We have no referral form. Anyone can come to us with ideas, needing support, wanting to help others, join a group, set up a group, do some training. There are lots of ways to get involved.

Knowledge share questions

Can I come and visit to just see what you do?
Yes, we can arrange a visit and we have different options available.

Do I need a website and phone line to create a similar service?
We find our model works best with a good website and a patient facing phone line. We can help you with website template.

How do I book a space on the next conference?
View our conferences knowledge share information for booking enquries

Can I see a copy of a job description for a Health Connector.
Please contact us for this information.

What training do Health Connectors Have?
The health connectors come from a variety of different backgrounds. They undertake ongoing in-house training. NHS England now has lots of training for these roles.

Who employs the Health Connectors?
Frome Medical Practice

Are Health Connectors the same as a Link Worker?
The roles are similar; we have senior Health Connectors who are link workers.

I am a Link worker and would like to come and see what you do, can I visit?
Yes you can. Please see our different options

How do people access the services?
Self-referrals, GP referrals, referrals from other professionals

How can I find out more about Community Connectors?
Anyone can be a Community Connector. There are regular training sessions that you can book on through Eventbrite or you can contact us and we will see if we can arrange to do training which is at a time and venue that is more convenient.

Please visit our website or call 01373 468368 for more details.​