Training in practice – our loneliness training with NHS Property Services
NHS Property Services (NHSPS) and the Campaign to End Loneliness partnered to deliver the first-of-its kind training to enable NHSPS Receptionists to support patients visiting health centres and presenting with signs of loneliness.
Research shows the increased pressure that loneliness can put on health services:
A survey by the Royal College of GPs found that 75% of GPs say that between one and five consultations per day are due to loneliness. (Royal College of General Practitioners. Loneliness. https://www.rcgp.org.uk/policy/rcgp-policy-areas/loneliness.aspx (accessed September 2022). People who experience loneliness are more likely to visit their GP and to use other health services such as A&E, putting pressure on already stretched services. (Burns A, Leavey G and O’Sullivan R. Loneliness and Healthcare Use in Older Adults:Evidence From a Nationally Representative Cohort in Northern Ireland—A Cross-Sectional Replication Study. Front Public Health. 2021;5;9:620264)
As the first point of contact with members of the public, NHS Receptionists have a very important role in making patients feel welcomed and made to feel at ease. They are also often witness to people presenting with signs of loneliness, such as patients arriving hours before their appointment to have somewhere to go and people to talk to, and therefore need to know how to talk about loneliness and know where to signpost people for support.
Our in-person half day training focused on equipping receptionists with knowledge on the key risk factors of loneliness, identifying and supporting patients at risk, and self-care. Following a successful pilot in the North West in September 2022, the scheme was expanded nationwide in October and November 2022, reaching nearly 400 NHSPS receptionists.
Hilary Stables, Chief People Officer, NHSPS, said, “Our NHS receptionists are the first port of call of people accessing medical services and are therefore in a prime position to make a
difference, so we are excited to be partnering with Campaign to End Loneliness to upskill our receptionist teams in spotting and supporting those suffering from loneliness. We are
committed to supporting the NHS in creating healthier communities, including through tackling loneliness, which can negatively impact both mental and physical health.”