Social prescribing is a means of enabling GPs and other frontline healthcare professionals to refer people to ‘services’ in their community instead of offering only medicalised solutions to produce a social prescription that will help to improve their health and wellbeing.
The community activities range from art classes to singing groups, from walking clubs to gardening, and to many other interest groups. It is taking off across the country, particularly with people who are lonely or isolated; people with mild mental health issues who may be anxious or depressed; and, those who struggle to engage effectively with services.
It is also relevant to people with wider social issues such as poverty, debt, housing, relationship problems, all of which impact on their health and wellbeing. Very often these people have frequent repeat visits to their doctor or to their local emergency department – effectively trapping them in a ‘revolving door’ of services.
Have you ever heard of social prescribing?I certainly hadn't but a few weeks ago I got a phonecall from my GP practice from someone asking me if I would be interested in finding out more. They got in touch because I have a chronic illness with multiple hospital visits and I see a few different clinics and services.
A woman came out to visit me at home and we had a relaxed chat about what was going on with my health and in a broader subject in my life. She asked about my family, my illness, treatments and how I get on day to day. She asked about finances and benefits and then what I thought I may need support with. She was really easy to talk to and she explained my options really well.
She has arranged for someone from the CAB to come out and see me to talk through my PIP and blue badge and has also arranged some free one to one counselling. There is also the option to try some complementary therapies like massage.
What's happening already?
- Nearly half of all clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across England are investing in social prescribing programmes
- 1 in 5 GPs regularly refer patients to social prescribing. 40 per cent would refer if they had more information about available services
It is also improving people’s health and wellbeing and is contributing to building stronger communities.
If this is of interest to you, then ask your GP if it is available in your area and to find out more, take a look on the NHS website here.
Have you taken part in social prescribing? Is it something you would be interested in? Let us know your thoughts and experiences today.
Senior online community officer