Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily 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.
Link workers give people time, focusing on ‘what matters to me’ and take a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. They connect people to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support that might involve a variety of activities which 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 and community-based support is part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s commitment to make personalised care business as usual across the health and care system. Social prescribing is one of the 6 components of universal personalised care.
Social prescribing works for a wide range of people, including people:
- with one or more long-term conditions
- who need support with their mental health
- who are lonely or isolated
- who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing.
From a GP perspective practice teams should consider those patients that are frequent attenders with often unexplained physical symptoms, social isolation, mental health difficulties, and poorly controlled long-term conditions.
What’s the difference between social prescribing and active signposting?
“Active signposting” schemes generally involve existing staff in general practices, libraries and other agencies providing information to signpost people to community groups and services, using directories and local knowledge. They offer a light touch approach which works best for people who are confident and skilled enough to find their own way to community groups.
Social prescribing is different in that it focuses its support on people who lack the confidence or knowledge to approach other agencies or to get involved in community groups on their own. The personalised support of social prescribing link workers gives people time and confidence to work on the underlying issues which affect their health and wellbeing.
Access the social prescribing e-learning session
This is a bite-sized session to give health and care professionals an overview of social prescribing – including key evidence, data and signposts to trusted resources to help prevent illness, protect health and promote wellbeing.
It is designed to be interactive and easy to use. If you are registered on the e-learning for healthcare site, it will count towards your continued professional development https://portal.e-lfh.org.uk/Component/Details/571333