What is Social Prescribing?
Social prescribing is a growing movement that connects people with a range of non clinical programmes, services and events in their local community – like walking groups, mental health counseling, debt management advice, employability skills, volunteering, family fitness, healthy cooking programmes, mindfulness sessions, and the ‘green prescription’ of gardening and food growing.
Why Social Prescribing, and What are the Benefits?
Social Prescribing seeks to address people’s needs across a number of areas such as physical activity, diet and nutrition, mental health and social support. It is often referred to as a ‘more than medicine’ approach to health and wellbeing based on the fact that the majority of long term conditions can be prevented by lifestyle change alone.
On a daily basis in General Practice a significant number of clinical consultations are primarily for social problems. There are also more people who are living longer and struggling to cope and adapt to living with long term conditions which can’t be addressed by a clinical consultation alone.
Studies have shown that social prescribing can result in a reduction in inappropriate prescribing of anti-depressants and a reduction in visits by frequent attenders to GPs, i.e. patients who see their GP more than 12 times per year.
Other benefits for general practice include:
- more appropriate use of clinicians’ time, allowing them to concentrate on medical issues during all consultation
- increases in the range of services offered by the practice, allowing a more holistic care package
- improvements in the link between the practice and the local voluntary and community sector
- encouragement and support of self-care can support people with long-term conditions
- improvements in patients’ mental health and wellbeing
- support for the QIPP (Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention) agenda.
The General Practice Forward View (2016) emphasised the role of voluntary sector organisations – including through social prescribing specifically – in efforts to reduce pressure on GP services. In addition, social prescribing contributes to a range of broader government objectives, for example in relation to employment, volunteering and learning.
What Support Can We Offer?
Our Practice is already committed to providing and supporting a number of Social Prescribing activities which include Health Walks, Gardening Groups, Singing Group, Pilates sessions, Foot Massage (reflexology), Walking Football and Carers Support Meetings.
All of these activities are provided to our patients free of charge. Clinicians can refer you to an activity or you can self-refer by completing a short form at Reception.
Please see our What's On Guide.pdf for details of all the activities provided and when they take place.
We are keen to find out what our patients know about Social Prescribing and what activities or further support they would most benefit from. Take our patient survey today.