We are a social enterprise start-up who are developing an off-the-shelf community directory platform that supports the Integrated Care model. What will make this digital solution different to existing public-facing online directories is the functionality that it will afford social prescribers, and the application of two different open data standards, Open Referral UK for community services and activities and Open Active for physical activities and sport. Using open data allows providers to reach many more people online, which in turn maximises the choice of local health and wellbeing options available to be found online with a smart phone or computer.
Digilynx is being designed to be a `one-stop` online directory for health and wellbeing services, activities, and places, for social prescribers and members of the public, and is the result of extensive and ongoing research. The problems with existing directories identified by social prescribers have been resolved, along with new initiatives.
Who is Digilynx for?
Digilynx will be a 'one-stop' online platform for those looking for local health and wellbeing options, and who want to find the required information in one place. It is a powerful tool for 'social prescribers' as it allows options to be found that meet the specific needs of the person that they are supporting, thanks specifically to the rich data that the Open Referral UK standard provides. Examples of 'social prescribers' are link workers, community connectors, health coaches, health visitors, outreach workers, social workers, family support workers, local area coordinators, community referrers, and other public engagement agencies.
Digilynx is also for those organisations related to health and wellbeing that would like an open data online directory specific to their requirements to be part of their website, without having to pay for their own to be developed and maintained. Personalised finders that search all relevant open data databases can be integrated into any website using a Digilynx finder widget. Digilynx can also replace existing databases that don't use open data standards. Examples of organisations with websites that could benefit are voluntary and community sector support organisations, local authorities, active partnerships, primary care networks (PCN), integrated care partnerships (ICP), national governing bodies (NGB), national charities, and any organisation that provides numerous services, activities and places.
Digilynx will be an effective online marketing tool for all providers of services, activities, and places, that support the health and wellbeing of residents in their local communities. Through the application of open data standards, searches can be made from many different websites whilst services, activities and places only need to be recorded and updated by the provider in a single database. Examples of providers are local authorities, community groups, voluntary organisations, faith and equalities groups, charities, social enterprises, co-operatives, community interest companies, mutuals, housing associations, private companies, and freelancers.
What is Open Data?
For this definition we turn to the Open Data Institute:
Open data is data that anyone can access, use or share. Simple as that. When big companies or governments release non-personal data, it enables small businesses, citizens and medical researchers to develop resources which make crucial improvements to their communities.
Here's a short animation that explains the Open Referral UK open data standard that has been developed for online directories for community services and activities:
What is Integrated Care?
For this explanation we've turned to NHS England and NHS Improvement website:
Integrated Care is about giving people the support they need, joined up across local councils, the NHS, and other partners. It removes traditional divisions between hospitals and family doctors, between physical and mental health, and between NHS and council services. In the past, these divisions have meant that too many people experienced disjointed care.
Integrated care systems (ICSs) are new partnerships between the organisations that meet health and care needs across an area, to coordinate services and to plan in a way that improves population health and reduces inequalities between different groups.
Since 2018, they have been deepening the relationship in many areas between the NHS, local councils and other important strategic partners such as the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. They have developed better and more convenient services, invested in keeping people healthy and out of hospital and set shared priorities for the future.
One of the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that people need support which is joined up across local councils, the NHS and voluntary and community organisations. This video explains how Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) embed this collaboration, helping local services to respond to the challenges of the pandemic and beyond:
What is Social Prescribing?
We really like The King's Fund answer to this question:
Social prescribing, also sometimes known as community referral, is a means of enabling health professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services. The referrals generally, but not exclusively, come from professionals working in primary care settings, for example, GPs or practice nurses.
Recognising that people's health and wellbeing are determined mostly by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people's needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health.
Schemes delivering social prescribing can involve a range of activities that are typically provided by voluntary and community sector organisations. Examples include volunteering, arts activities, group learning, gardening, befriending, cookery, healthy eating advice and a range of sports.
Social prescribing is designed to support people with a wide range of social, emotional or practical needs, and many schemes are focused on improving mental health and physical wellbeing. Those who could benefit from social prescribing schemes include people with mild or long-term mental health problems, people with complex needs, people who are socially isolated and those with multiple long-term conditions who frequently attend either primary or secondary health care.
There are different models of social prescribing being employed across England. Most involve a link worker (other terms such as community connector, navigator and health adviser are also used) who works with people to access local sources of support. Social prescribing can be understood as one of a family of approaches, sometimes called community-centred approaches, which aim to mobilise the power of communities to generate good health.
Here's a short animation that explains what social prescribing is, how it works and the benefits to individuals' health and wellbeing:
Our Social Enterprise credentials
As set out in our governing documents; Our social mission is to digitally connect people to their local wellbeing services and activities through the provision of open data online directories. We are not established or conducted for private gain: at least half of any profits or surpluses are reinvested or given away towards our social mission.
We are an independent business with an objective to earn more than half of our income through trading to avoid the dependence on funding to remain sustainable. We are transparent about how we operate and the impact that we have.
Want to find out more? Please get in touch at [email protected]