Health Spot is a specialist extended GP hub specifically for young people. It is run in partnership with Spotlight – Poplar HARCA’s award-winning youth service – to make care accessible and relevant to young people’s experiences. Developed in Tower Hamlets, Health Spot is dedicated to supporting the health and wellbeing needs of young people aged 11-19 yrs (up to 25yrs if facing additional challenges). Young people helped to co-design the service, which is delivered in the safe and convenient youth space set up by a local housing association in east London.
The service, which launched during the first Covid lockdown 2020, offers friendly, confidential medical appointments with a GP who is experienced in supporting young people’s health needs along with the option of support from the amazing Spotlight youth workers and other specialist input from Docklands Outreach, Safe East, Queen Mary University of London Clinical Effectiveness Group and many more.
What young people say about Health Spot
Find out more about Health Spot and what it means to the young people who use the services by watching this two minute video.
How it works
Health Spot provides collaborative care for young people in a space that is convenient, accessible and ‘safe’ for them to attend. It provides holistic access to the services that young people want and removes the barriers to accessing them. This is a health hub dedicated to young people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
It offers appointments with a GP experienced in supporting young people’s health needs, as well as working in partnership with other local services, including Docklands Outreach and Compass: Safe East to offer comprehensive, confidential, and holistic support. A young person can visit Healthspot for a GP appointment, speak to a youth worker and/or a sexual health advisor all in the same location and without feeling exposed by having to attend a GP practice.
As an extended GP services hub, the practitioners are able to see the young persons’ registered GP notes (if they are in the same borough) allowing them to provide safer and more robust health consultations. Health Spot doesn’t replace their own GP, but rather offers an enhanced community health offer which may include supporting them to engage with their own GP if required or wanted.
The youth workers based within the service continue to provide support outside of the consult – this can also extend to include the wider family.
This type of synergistic working between different aspects of a young persons’ care also brings allows for improved (contextual) safeguarding, smoother handover to different arms of the offer e.g. to counselling or sexual health services.
Health Spot is also complemented by Spotlight’s rich programme of award-winning activities for young people, streamlining medical and social prescribing principles. Each step of the referral and consultation process is supported by a trusted youth worker and underpinned by Spotlight’s rigorous safeguarding procedures.
Additionally, as the provision is located within the youth space run by a housing association this brings closer links and access to local knowledge and well established collaborative relationships with a host of other organisations, including police, voluntary sector organisations, education, youth offending team and more and they are very skilled at engaging local young people.
Why it works
Health Spot works as it is built around the needs and voice of the people it has been developed for. This means that it works to remove as many barriers as possible, underpinned by the offer being in a physical and relational space where they feel comfortable to be. It is about bringing a holistic health offer to the young people rather than trying to get the young people to the health offer.
By working to remove these barriers to accessing health care, we are addressing the inequalities already faced by the young people related to health but also wider socioeconomic inequalities. Young people often cite concerns about confidentiality when accessing their own GP e.g. parents, or neighbours in waiting room – at Health Spot this provides a space where they are assured of an appropriate confidential offer. The trust between the young person and the health worker contributes to a feeling of having more control over the relationship and any potential outcomes.
By meeting unmet health needs through this collaborative offer it helps to prevent crisis presentations and empowers young people to take more control over their own health and wellbeing. This then gives them the support and access they need to make positive health choices that in turn will influence their longer-term health outcomes.
As well as providing improved access and health care by placing young people at the centre of their own health journey the youth workers help them to navigate the wider health and care system leading to less DNAs, improved adherence to health plan, reducing crisis presentations and avoiding unnecessary admissions.
Health Spot is doing what it set out to do as it is being used and valued by young people accessing the services. These two case studies give a glimpse into the difference it is making for local young people.
Case study 1
Gemma (pseudonym) suffers from a rare skin condition called harlequin ichthyosis has been a member at spotlight for two years now. Since joining Spotlight, Gemma has been given the opportunity to take part in various activities that she is passionate about (boxing and music) as well as pushing her to her limits to reach her goals. The pandemic has been overwhelming for Gemma as suffering a rare skin condition has put her in a situation where she is vulnerable and at risk to going out as her skin is sensitive and prone to infections. Unfortunately,
Gemma developed a skin infection on her finger and was really concerned and worried about where to get the right support and who to reach out to as she felt it was hard to reach out to her doctors and arrange a hospital appointment as she was not sure if facilities were available due to the lockdown. However, due to her ongoing interaction with Spotlight, Gemma was informed about Health Spot and how a GP could potentially help with the health concern/need. We were able to treat the infection, but also explain how her own GP can continue to support her e.g. online consultation offer as well as help her to access timely and appropriate care for her wider health needs.
Gemma, commented: “Health Spot has benefitted me massively and honestly speaking if I did not have Spotlight to turn to then I wouldn’t know what to do. I didn’t have to think about leaving my house to go doctors. Health Spot was very straightforward for me as I was able to book an appointment within a fitted time slot that is suitable for me to attend. I was able to have my appointment over the phone and speak to a friendly doctor called Helen who ensured that my situation was dealt quickly and effectively. She made sure that I was prescribed with antibiotics for my finger infection to be recovered quickly. The conversation between me and the doctor was completely confidential, I felt comfortable and was able to talk about my worries and concerns freely and safely. Helen was very patient and understanding and she listened to everything that I had to say and made sure it was taken into consideration.
I am honestly so grateful that I had Spotlight health to fall back on as when your health is not great, and it is difficult to access medical help during lockdown it can be very frustrating and stressful. I was panicking about my finger infection getting worse, but Health Spot made sure that I received urgent treatment. Health Spot is an exceptional service, and I would use them again if I’m in pain or having problems with my health.”
Case study 2
Anil (pseudonym) was referred to Spotlight by a GP in October 2020 after Anil witnessed the fatal stabbing of one of his friends. Whilst the assessment concluded that there was no role for ongoing social work it was felt that Anil may benefit from emotional support after the trauma of witnessing his friend’s death. When Anil was first contacted by a Spotlight youth worker he said he was managing, however his mother was concerned that he would suffer long-term emotional trauma and become involved in criminal behaviour and youth violence.
After speaking to mum and Anil individually, youth workers suggested Anil would benefit from the supporting families programme, which started with a home visit to discuss the programme and Spotlight offer. Although Anil was reluctant at first he started to visit Spotlight, which led to him building relationships with staff who have been able to provide ongoing support. Since Anil started to engage with Spotlight he feels comfortable to talk about personal issues with the youth workers and has called us as first point of contact when in difficult situations or incidents. Additionally, he has taken advantage of having appointments with GPs at Health Spot with youth workers included in the consultation allowing him to access healthcare in a way he feels comfortable and supported.
Thanks to the relationship developed with Anil through Spotlight he is now supported with his mental and physical health and wellbeing needs and is taking an active role in working towards a future free of drug misuse and risky behaviour. None of this would have been possible without the provision of Spotlight and Health Spot.
Anil’s GP commented: “Having referred Anil to Spotlight to access appropriate care that best met his needs and subsequently seeing him at Health spot I’m absolutely struck by the change I’ve seen. He is much more animated and engaged and with a strong plan to take his life forward, dealing with the challenges he is facing.
“The wrap around care the youth workers have been able to offer him and his family has made such a difference – they have become his first port of call for help in ongoing crisis and have facilitated his ongoing engagement with other services that are there to support him, but in my experience young people would not proactively engage with.”
If you want to develop your own Health Spot please read the ‘how to guide’ with hints and tips about the process and points to consider. The guide includes contact details of the project lead if you have further questions.