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Carnforth community pulls together to support the most vulnerable during COVID-19

21st September 2020

Carnforth Integrated Care Community (ICC) which includes third sector groups, local councils and GPs, has rallied to help support some of the most vulnerable people in Carnforth and neighbouring villages during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.Carnforth.jpg

During the height of the pandemic, residents Liam Law and Andrea Wren set up the ‘Carnforth and surrounding areas COVID-19 isolation support group' on Facebook and along with the support of Carnforth Town Council, Carnforth Free Methodist and a group of volunteers, have supported residents by doing their shopping, collecting prescriptions, walking their dogs and offering advice and support.  

The volunteers have also referred people most in need to the Salvation Army. The charity has recorded more than 500 records of assistance including helping people with foodbank parcels in conjunction with Morecambe Bay Foodbank. The Salvation Army has assisted people who are homeless or rehoused and families trapped by self-isolation. Volunteers at the charity have driven people to various hospital and GP appointments in conjunction with the support group. 

Volunteer Liam Law said: “We started the group to help those most in need during what has been such an uncertain time. By having the service it has given everyone a sense of continuity and really built up trust in our community.

“We’ve had fantastic support from so many people including Gay Tonks, Malcolm Watkins, councillor Liz Jones and Bob Bailey.”

Volunteer Andrea Wren added: “We have helped people in Carnforth, Holme, Silverdale, Warton and Bolton Le Sands. Everyone we have met has been really lovely and very grateful - it’s brought out the good in people.”

Carnforth ICC has worked closely with partners such as Carnforth Town Council and Lancaster City Council wellbeing partnership and the rural communities group to look at how it can support the community holistically. Monthly multi-disciplinary team meetings have helped to identify those residents who may need more support such as those with dementia or mental health conditions. Lancaster Integrated Care Community has also produced a community support bulletin for Lancaster, Carnforth and Bay ICCs which is updated and distributed to the community regularly and includes information about foodbanks, third sector organisations and community support.

GP leads have refocused their ICC management time to care for patients. Link Workers for Carnforth and Milnthorpe Primary Care Network have been instrumental in securing transport for patients to Park View surgery in Milnthorpe for routine appointments and to Ash Tree Surgery in Bolton-Le-Sands for weekly blood tests.

Carnforth GP Dr David Wrigley said: “When COVID hit it was all hands on deck and our GPs turned their attention to their most vulnerable patients, refocusing our Integrated Care Community management time to ensure people got the care that they needed. Our Link Workers Sam White and Sue Birchall have done a fabulous job of using their skills to reach out to people and proactively find support for patients.

 “COVID has meant we have had to look more closely at supporting those patients in the community who are frightened or unsure, as well as those who are vulnerable and unwell – having the ICC in place and strong connections with our partners, gave us a really solid base to build on and I would say our relationships with partners are now stronger than ever.”

Emma Paul, Carnforth ICC & East ICC Development Lead, said: “Between May-August, Jayne Crowther, Carnforth ICC Care Coordinator, has made 160 referrals/signposts for people living in the local communities to services such as Age UK Lancashire, Citizen's Advice, Fire Service for Home Fire Safety checks, Carer's Support and Community Therapy.

“Carnforth ICC has also reinstated the monthly steering group meetings which bring together a wide range of health and social care representatives, town and city council and a wide range of community and voluntary groups and organisations. These meetings allow all attendees to give a brief update and reduce reduplication in offers of support and identify innovative ways of working and building solid partnerships between organisations to ensure that our local communities receive the best joined-up care.”