What is Social Prescribing?
Social prescribing in its simplest form is a way for local organisations (such as GPs, social services, job centres) to easily refer people to a link worker. Generally, people who need support with a non-medical issue are suitable for social prescribing. Once referred, a link worker spends time with the person to understand their needs and what support they may need in their life.Link workers focus on what matters to the person and have unique, practical knowledge of the local area so that they can signpost a person to the appropriate services. For example, someone that feels isolated may be supported to get involved with local activities which may be of interest.
Who is suitable Social Prescribing?
This will depend on the access criteria of your local social prescribing scheme i.e. some only see 18+ but others see only over-65 years olds but quite often anyone! If a person has a non-medical problem that’s affecting their wellbeing and quality of life, social prescribing could really help. With consent such individuals are suitable for a referral to a social prescribing scheme.
What is the plan for Social Prescribing in the NHS?
The NHS Long Term Plan states there will be over 1,000 trained link workers in place by 2020/21, with a further increase in that number by 2023/24. The Social Prescribing Partnership of Bromley by Bow Centre, Conexus Healthcare and the University of East London are proud to support this goal by offering a comprehensive practical Level 3 qualification in Social Prescribing. Through social prescribing, the NHS aims to give a wider range of support to people across the country, with an emphasis on individual plans for each referred person.
Why Social Prescribing?
By supporting people through education, practical support and signposting to the wealth of different services available in their communities’, people begin to feel more socially included.
How can Social Prescribing help my patient, my community and the NHS?
Below are a few examples of how Social Prescribing can create a positive impact.
Social prescribing allows us to understand what matters most to an individual.
Social prescribing allows the person to express what they feel is affecting their wellbeing to a link worker. They in turn can help the individual to create a plan to work through these problems, utilising opportunities and help within the community in the best way possible.
If an isolated individual wants to get involved in a group but doesn’t feel confident attending alone some link workers, or volunteers who work with them, can sometimes support with this and help with those first steps, which are usually the most daunting.
If an individual is struggling to find employment link workers can offer advice on volunteering opportunities which could help them to meet their career aspirations.
Link workers and social prescribing services will identify gaps in community support if there are any.
Social prescribing schemes are well-placed to work to facilitate different funding opportunities or work with willing volunteers to fill these gaps.
Link workers can encourage more people to become involved in relevant community groups and activities. This can help foster a person’s confidence within their local community, encouraging those within the community to support one another.
Referrals to social prescribing can take pressure off GPs, family services, hospital discharge schemes and other organisations where the person’s needs cannot be met, allowing them to signpost patients to a service better suited to their needs.
In some cases, social prescribing has reduced the need for the individual to rely on medications to treat illnesses such as depression – managing their condition through talking therapies and support from the link worker and their community connections.
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