Written by Carol Park
Nurse & Nurses.co.uk Specialist Writer
With flu season engulfing general practice, the patients are queueing up as colleagues all around start dropping like flies with a variety of coughs, colds and vomiting bugs. It can leave even the upbeat folk a little blue.In my January clinic, I am setting my challenges for my patients to bring social and creative projects together. I have linked three lovely ladies together once a month in a book group over a cuppa (after seeing two of them with the same book). I have challenged a charming man to find his paint box and get outside to paint some wintery local landscapes. I've even challenged myself with a bit of DIY with an old friend I don’t often see.This week, my clinic has brought me many elderly patients who have found the last few weeks lonely and tiring. Very often as they present with a “just a cough”, the underlying loneliness creeps out with the tears. I love to give them time to talk and share what my family is up to, but sadly in the pressurised times we live in, this is not always possible. It has also made me consider what, if anything, is available locally.I have recently found Social Prescribing in my town, which can offer advice and direction to local voluntary and support groups which engage with my patients for a two-way benefit. I saw an elderly man who had moved out of his house and into a flat. He missed his garden so much and realised that when he was out digging, planting or weeding, local people would stop and chat to him. This was what he was really missing. Through our Social Prescribing team, he could join a volunteer garden project to turn some waste ground into a community garden. This gave him a reason for getting up in the morning, pulling on his wellies and getting out there. As the small corner garden started to grow, more local people would donate plants and shrubs from their own gardens, and in a relatively short while, the waste land was transformed and so was my lonely chap. We all need to open our eyes to our patient’s holistic needs. Sometimes a good project is what we need, not medicines.