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Social Prescribing Background

Social Prescribing is a way of linking people with non-medical sources of support within the community to improve overall well-being, recognising that services provided by non-traditional providers are often an important element in the care offered and can develop into bespoke packages of care for the individual.

People using Social Prescribing will become more involved in the decision making process of their personal care and the community will be able to play a stronger role in offering services.

Below is an extract of an evaluation into Social Prescribing conducted by The Care Forum in Keynsham. The evaluation covers Social Prescribing referrals for a 3 year period:

Issues faced by these individuals may include some or all of the following:

  • lacking social networks (including family/friends)
  • feelings of isolation
  • low mood
  • expressing loneliness
  • anxiety
  • fear of the outside world
  • decreased confidence and self-esteem
  • lacking purpose or a focus in life
  • little or no hobbies/interests
  • lives alone/socially isolated

People who receive a social prescription are usually signposted to one, some or all of the following (depending on service users’ needs):

  • voluntary work
  • assistance to get back into paid employment
  • physical health and fitness centres/clubs/groups/activities, etc
  • support services/agencies/groups, etc.
  • education or training courses and centres
  • hobbies/interests clubs, courses, activities, etc
  • religious or faith groups.

The benefits to people who access these services can include some or all of the following:

  • improved wellbeing
  • meeting new people/making friends (improved social network)
  • new skills
  • personal development
  • sense of worth
  • make a difference to their community (via volunteering, etc)
  • reduced social exclusion
  • improved mental and physical health
  • reduced dependency on clinical health services
  • new hobbies/interests
  • improved self-confidence and self-esteem
  • new employment opportunities (where relevant)
  • improved fitness levels
  • healthier lifestyle
  • purpose in life

The work carried out over the three year period in Keynsham resulted in improvements not only for the person being referred by an increase in wellbeing, mentally, physically and socially but also an improvement for the referring party, in this case the local GP and NHS.

One Ilfracombe would like to see if Social Prescribing can be extended to not only include primary care, but to include local advisory agencies and other health care teams who operate within the community of Ilfracombe.