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Nurse’s phone app helps people access local health services

Helen O’Connell developed the Treacle website and app to gather information together in one place, making it easier for individuals to find the help they need

Helen O’Connell developed the Treacle website and app to gather information together in one place, making it easier for individuals to find the help they need

A nurse’s idea for a phone app that connects people to local health and social care services is set to be rolled out across Bradford.

GP practice nurse Helen O’Connell initially launched her social prescribing directory Treacle to help patients in her village of Haworth in west Yorkshire.

Food bank enquiry showed need for local information

The initiative was inspired by a patient who came to her searching for information on food banks. Ms O’Connell discovered the nearest one

Helen O’Connell developed the Treacle website and app to gather information together in one place, making it easier for individuals to find the help they need

GP practice nurse Helen O’Connell created the Treacle app

A nurse’s idea for a phone app that connects people to local health and social care services is set to be rolled out across Bradford.

GP practice nurse Helen O’Connell initially launched her social prescribing directory Treacle to help patients in her village of Haworth in west Yorkshire.

Food bank enquiry showed need for local information

The initiative was inspired by a patient who came to her searching for information on food banks. Ms O’Connell discovered the nearest one was a long bus ride away, so she helped set up her own in the local village hall in February 2020.

‘It was just before the pandemic hit, so it was good timing as lots of people needed that lifeline during lockdown,’ she said.

‘But it made me think ‘how can I help people without just handing out tins of beans’?

‘When the patient had asked for advice, we looked on the computer together and it took us a while to find the relevant food bank information, going on different websites.’

Nurse secured funding to build Treacle website

Ms O’Connell realised there was a wide range of health and social care services available for local residents, but finding information about them proved tricky. That’s where the idea for Treacle was born.

‘I’m a forgetful person, so I thought of the idea of having all this information together in one place. That way, our whole team would have one easy website we could direct patients to,’ she added.

Ms O’Connell approached her employer for £1,000 of funding so she could source a web developer to build the Treacle site.

From carers looking for Parkinson’s support, to parents looking for charities or referrals for their teenagers who are self-harming, Treacle is helping a huge range of individuals and medical staff access the care they need.

Treacle also uses social media to spread the message:

Phone app has been rolled out to wider area

Following the website’s launch, a user-friendly phone app was developed and has been such a success that Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust has commissioned the service for the whole area.

‘My heart skips a beat when people tell me they were able to find help through Treacle,’ said Ms O’Connell.

‘I feel passionately that it’s all about prevention. Sometimes there are local organisations that can give you help much quicker than waiting for an NHS referral – it’s just about helping people find it. I’m just a nurse trying to serve her patients better.’


Further information

Visit the Treacle website


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