Compassionate Communities UK and The Frome Model

Dr Julian Abel, Director of Compassionate Communities UK, has been working with the team at Frome Medical Practice since 2016 in implementing and rolling out the Frome Model across the Mendip area of Somerset. 

“Compassionate Communities” project reduces emergency hospital admissions by 30%

A compassionate community programme in Frome, Somerset, has been successful in reducing emergency admissions to hospital by 30% over the last 3 years. This is the first intervention that has successfully reduced emergency admissions to hospital across a population and offers the possibility of averting the current crisis in the NHS of increasing admissions to hospital and rising NHS costs. Emergency admissions account for nearly 20% of the £110 billion healthcare budget.

The success of the scheme is revealed in the new March/April issue of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine – published by the educational charity, The Resurgence Trust -- published on 26 February  

Frome Medical Practice, serving the 28,000 population in Frome and the surrounding area, have taken the innovative approach of combining a compassionate community programme of community development with routine medical care. 

The success of the programme makes routine use of the most effective intervention for improving health and longevity, which is social relationships. Social connectedness has a bigger impact on health than giving up smoking, reducing excessive drinking, reducing obesity and any other preventative interventions. Until now, it has not been known how to use this in routine clinical practice. Through paying attention to people’s community networks, the medical practice and Health Connections Mendip, the community development service, reconnect people to both their own supportive network and the extensive community activity that already exists. 

Compassionate communities do not take the place of social care. Rather, it has 3 components. 

1.    Through making the most of the supportive networks of family, friends and neighbours, people build care and connectedness, love and laughter, sharing companionship and values. Some of this is task related to caring and some is increasing a sense of belonging in communities.

2.    Building networks of support for the routine matters of life, shopping, cooking, cleaning, looking after the garden and pets, providing lifts.

3.    Linking to community activity, such as choir, walking groups, men’s sheds, talking cafes and other interest groups where people can make friendships and share life’s events. 

Together, compassionate communities help to reduce isolation and loneliness and bring a sense of belonging into what is sometimes a disconnected society. 

Dr Julian Abel, Director of Compassionate Communities UK says

 

“ Medicine until now has not seen the social relationships domain as part of clinical care. However, it is the most effective intervention we have in improving health and well being across populations. The project in Frome has found a way of making compassionate communities and embedded part of care. The results of doing so are startling.”

Dr Helen Kingston, Senior Partner at Frome Medical Practice and initiator of the Frome Model, says

 

Our project has shown clearly that we improve patient outcomes, improve working lives of the clinical teams and dramatically reducing emergency admissions to hospital. Having the community resources at hand means we can meet the needs of our patients in a way that is most meaningful to them, rather than struggling to find answers to social problems with medications.

Greg Neale, Editor-in-Chief of the educational and environmental charity, The Resurgence Trust, and its magazine Resurgence & Ecologist, says in an article on the Frome project:

 

“At a time when – not just in Britain – health services are facing increasing pressure, and the cost of high-tech medicine is spiralling, such initiatives show the value of a different, more local and more socially conscious alternative.

Photo shows Kerrie Noonan (3rd left to right)  and Holly Rankin - Smith (first left to right) from Groundswell, Australia after they were trained by Julie Carey - Downes as the first international Community Connectors in Frome, along with Jenny Hartnoll, lead for Health Connections Mendip

Photo shows Kerrie Noonan (3rd left to right)  and Holly Rankin - Smith (first left to right) from Groundswell, Australia after they were trained by Julie Carey - Downes as the first international Community Connectors in Frome, along with Jenny Hartnoll, lead for Health Connections Mendip