A GP practice in Unsworth has organised local meet ups for some of their most vulnerable patients to help them get more active.

For some years now Unsworth Medical Centre in Bury has been linking with a group of their older patients, some living with dementia, to encourage them to do more activities and to help them meet more people.

This simple initiative has enabled the medical centre to provide support to some of their most isolated patients, many of whom live on their own or may not see or speak to a friend or a family member for a number of days. Feedback from the group has been overwhelmingly positive and the impact on their social life is immeasurable. The patients are now taking part in more activities such as dancing and sewing and will soon have the opportunity to take part in chair yoga classes too, and are also arranging to meet up with each other outside of the group.

Unsworth Medical Centre has received support to promote these opportunities from Contact the Elderly – a national charity dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people through face-to-face contact.

Bury Council’s Older People’s Staying Well team have also been supporting the project and were in attendance at a recent event where the group met over a fish and chips lunch to discuss ways to help more of the medical centre’s patients get active.

Inspired by the meeting, Bury Council’s Active Ageing Coordinator joined forces with the Older People’s Staying Well team to organise a coffee morning inviting all Bury residents aged over 55 to talk about ways to improve care for all patients. Dr. Ben Shafar, GP at Unsworth Medical Centre, and Paula McCrossan, Practice Manager, along with their patients joined the coffee morning to discuss the positive impacts their meet ups have had on their own health and wellbeing.

Paula McCrossan, Practice Manager at Unsworth Medical Centre in Bury said, “This group began because we were noticing a growing number of our patients were either living on their own or did not get out much. We wanted to help them and the results show that the meetings have encouraged these patients to participate in more activities.

The feedback we are receiving from our patients is that they are enjoying meeting up not only because it encourages them take part in more activities but also because the meet ups have given them the opportunity to get to know more people. Some of the members are now knocking on for each other and going for a coffee, which is really positive.”

Paula continued, “We started with something that was very small to help our patients. Now that the idea has caught the attention of Bury Council’s staying well team and received support from the charity Contact the Elderly, we hope that it will continue to keep growing so that all older or vulnerable people across Bury have assistance to get more active and meet more people.”