Funding boost for elderly support group

Birmingham GP surgery wins award for supporting isolated patients.

A surgery in Birmingham that developed a support group for isolated people has won an award for its work.

The Tower Hill Partnership Medical Practice in Perry Barr picked up the Patient Champion Award at the Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group General Practice Awards 2017.

The surgery was recognised for identifying people on their books who had been bereaved in the last five years and were most likely to be at risk of loneliness and isolation. The Walsall Road Surgery’s Patient Participation Group is supported by Ageing Better in Birmingham, a National Lottery funded programme working to reduce isolation in the city.

The money, from the Ageing Better Fund, allowed the practice to invite 250 people to a 50 Plus Group. They meet at the surgery every two weeks and can chat, play games and attendees are even able to have their ailments checked by a GP or nurse while there.

Adele Russon, Business & Facilities Manager at the medical practice (front pic), said: “The 50 Plus Group has been a huge success and we have 25 regulars now. One lady was in tears saying the group was the only social contact she has had since her husband died.

“Another lady was taken to hospital in an ambulance with suspected deep vein thrombosis after attending the group with a swollen leg. While she was there a GP looked her over and decided she needed further medical assistance. This may not have been picked up if she hadn’t attended the group.”

Monica Black, 77, who attends and also helped launch the group, said: “One lady, well into her 80s comes by taxi – it’s wonderful to see people so happy. It really is a fantastic service, you can see a doctor while you’re there and get a prescription if needed. It’s a chance to meet new people, chat, play games, learn new things and most importantly give a reason to get out and just be with people.”

Adele Russon, added: “The award is truly deserving of the Patient Participation Group, whose idea it was to target the lonely and invite them to the Over 50s Group. They are doing tremendous work to improve the lives of those who have lost touch with others.”

Ageing Better in Birmingham supports volunteers who reach-out to people over 50 who may be isolated in older age. Through weekly groups the volunteers connect individuals, helping to create a positive change in the lives of those they reach. As part of the initiative, people of all ages are being encouraged to apply for up to £2,000 through the Ageing Better Fund to start activities, initiatives and events for the collective benefit of isolated older people across the city.