General Practice Social Work Update

General Practice Social Work Update

The Social Work (SW) contribution to MDT currently remains populating 6 of our 18 surgeries but please be assured,  Alex is extremely proactive, in partnership with Dr Johhny Burns and Dr Peter Reid,  in canvassing and arguing the urgent need to place Social Workers and Social Work assistants in the remaining practices.

The current Social Work members, 8 Senior Social Workers and 5 Social Work assistants, continue to offer a direct service to patients presenting with social difficulties related to or a cause of the presenting health concern. We have seen a welcome and steady increase in referrals being received by the practitioners.

Practice Based Training

We are pleased to share that the GP based Social Workers are completing a series of Primary Care related training to enhance their current skills, some of which detailed below :-

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder, assessment and support. Delivered, monitored and supported by Lisa Curlett, Trust Paediatric ASD Lead. This is designed to offer support to the family at the first instance and assist GPs consider if a referral to ASD service appropriate or if there is support and assistance the GP SW team can offer immediately.


  • Motivational Interview Skills Training. Directly linked to assisting those experiencing difficulties in regard to patients relationships with drugs and alcohol.


  • Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Workshops.


  • A suite of Drugs and Alcohol abuse training.


  • Bespoke training developed specifically for the Causeway Coast and Glens Federation SW cohort relating to project and community development challenges by an expert in the field.


SW GP Projects

Despite the SW GP cohort small numbers, the following projects are in development, rolled out or completed.

Shielding. team members, whenever possible, continue to call clients in their practice who have been advised to shield to ensure they have access to food, heating and to check their wellbeing.

Lodge/Mountsandel advent initiative. Forty patients, lonely or isolated, received weekly gifts/puzzles/stimulation packs with a bonus one at Christmas. This programme so well reived, continue to be rolled out over January/February.

Garvagh Forrest Walks. Joint SW MDT and Garvagh Development Group Project assisting those experiencing a range of difficulties from loneliness and isolation,  parental concerns, mental health issues.

ASD/ADHD Support Group. Online ZOOM support group for parents struggling with behaviours being presented by their children and methods being given to understand, manage and support said parents/children.

Christmas Poverty Action. SWrs worked with Age Concern Causeway and voluntary agencies, including local churches, in delivering gifts and food parcels to patients and families in financial crisis during the holiday period.

SW Seed Funding related initiatives

The Department of Health has given a fund to the SW MDT to work in partnership with the community to develop and deliver new projects to assist our communities.

With the significant assistance of Dr Johnny Burns and M/H Lead Jane Reynolds, the following are now either delivering or in development.

Cloughmills Mill. Support group for elders with a range of services and activities to assist those struggling with issues relating to loneliness, isolation, poverty, mental health related concerns.

 Freshminds Programme Bespoke service for parents and young people of those presenting with significant behavioural difficulties, tensions, mental health concerns, all of which would not meet the criteria for a statutory service but would clerly be a family in need of support.

SOLAS. Ballycastle based service now available to take referrals from the Federation via SW Lead.

Walking Groups. Small funding for specific walking groups meeting range of need in Coleraine area.

Forrest Walks Training. Focused training for SW Group to build on success of Garvagh project and identify green spaces in GP Practice areas when similar projects can rolled out with some limited ongoing external support.


The SW GP MDT, with the support of the Practice’s in Portrush and Rasharkin, are piloting a letter drop outlining our services to those communities and we look forward to measuring their impact.


We have exciting and innovative ideas which we are very keen to share with you all and are all very excited by being able to roll out to the whole Federation as soon as we can.