The Green Dreams Project CIC is an award winning and nationally recognised Community Interest Company (CIC). This includes an NHS Innovation award and the GP Enterprise award in the category of Caring for Vulnerable Adults.
The work of The Green Dreams Project CIC has been presented to people throughout the UK, including the Secretary of State for Health, HRH The Prince of Wales, Health Ministers past and present as well as key NHS figures including the Chief Medical Officer.
The Green Dreams Project CIC is a social enterprise organisation set up in 2010 by Dr J H Fleming in response to need he identified when consulting with many of his patients.
The relationship between the GP and patient is often entirely unique and unlike any other professional / client relationship. GP’s have a strong and positive influence in a patient’s life and a deeply trusting relationship often develops between the patient and their GP or other healthcare professional.
It is because of this relationship that the GP is ideally placed to identify opportunities for social or information based support, in order to address the many socially rooted issues which act as a barrier to the improvement of the health and wellbeing of the patient. The challenge of highly restrictive time constraints experienced by the GP and keeping local knowledge up to date is often a barrier (amongst a myriad of other often complex issues), to the GP acting as an effective referrer or ‘social prescriber’.
The Green Dream Project CIC was established for those patients who existing organisations were struggling to help, and worked initially with a range of clients, including those who were unemployed, isolated and those whose quality of life was so poor that it had impacted on their health. The Green Dreams Project CIC took the then unique approach of linking workers to an individual GP Practice. The Link Workers consulted with individual patients to identify what aspects of their lives were negatively impacting on their overall health and wellbeing and sought to identify a range of community based social support and other mechanisms for the patient. All support was tailored to patients’ own individual and unique needs. This work also led to development of a number of community groups which were established as a result of the organisation’s desire to strengthen community assets. This approach is now widespread across the UK and social prescribing is an integral part of the new NHS Five Year Forward View.
The work of the Project was commissioned through East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group and the organisation grew to supporting hundreds of patients from 22 GP practices in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale.
In August 2014, after many months of work with local volunteers, many of whom had benefitted from support from the organisation, the organisation was able to build an outdoor theatre in the heart of Padiham’s Memorial Park on the site of the town’s original bandstand. This was used put on an open air production of George’s Marvellous Medicine which was attended by over 100 local families, the Mayor and local armed service personnel. The organisation was extremely proud of this achievement which demonstrated the power of social prescribing and the benefits of volunteering to both individuals and communities.
In 2014, the organisation was tasked with setting up new a ‘Specialist Nurse Practitioner’ service on behalf of the 17 GP practices in the Burnley locality of Lancashire. The service employed six full time Specialist Nurse Practitioners and 2 Administrators. After two years of successful operation and development of this pioneering service, it was handed back to the GP Practices in 2017 and support was offered post transition to ensure a seamless integration into Primary Care services.
In early 2016, two of the Specialist Nurse Practitioners employed by the organisation were awarded the title of ‘Queens Nurse,’ in recognition of commitment to high standards of practice and patient-centred care. The title is awarded to a small number of nurses each year by the ‘Queens Nursing Institute’ following submission of a portfolio of evidence and scrutiny.
The Green Dreams Project is part of a newly established ‘Social Prescribing Network’ and has taken part in nationally led research into social prescribing and the promotion of wellbeing through social initiatives rooted in Primary Care. This work has been undertaken in partnership with a range of other social prescribing authorities in the UK, including ‘The College of Medicine’, ‘the University of Westminster’ and the ‘Wellcome Trust’. Visit www.collegeofmedicine.org.uk/social-prescribing for more information.
Currently, the Green Dreams Project is working with Primary Schools in Padiham, and the wider community, to implement a food programme ‘Grown in the Community,’ to teach children how to grow and prepare food, about nutrition, and to identify further community resources to improve health and well-being at a stage before health professionals and medicines are utilised.