Social prescribing connects people to local, non-clinical services through their GP or other primary care professionals. Social prescribing is also called community referrals.
In addition to advising medication or low-level mental health treatment, social prescribing aims to help people improve their health and wellbeing through local services. It recognises that social, economic and environmental factors all have an impact on our health. It also treats each patient as an individual that has their own needs that may not include clinical treatment.
Social prescribing aims to improve health and wellbeing through community groups and volunteer services. These can include befriending services, art classes, sports and exercise groups, cookery classes, gardening and much more. The patient can make their own choice about what service they wish to take part in based around their interests and needs.
One major factor of social prescribing is to improve mental health and wellbeing. People with mild or long-term mental health conditions are a primary focus of social prescribing, as are people that are socially isolated, vulnerable people, and those that regularly attend primary or secondary care.
Another factor of social prescribing is to improve the delivery of overall health services. We all know that in the UK, the NHS is currently under a lot of strain and that people are waiting for long periods to see their GP for treatment. Social prescribing helps relieve some of that strain by allowing any primary care professional to ‘prescribe’ or direct patients to local health and wellbeing services.
There are existing social prescribing models in play across the UK and patients are starting to see the benefits. For many people, joining a community group or volunteer service has improved their mental health, their emotional wellbeing and their quality of life. Primary care professionals are now able to focus their attention to medical conditions that do require clinical treatment while other patients benefit from their community referrals.
My Community Referral is a part of the social prescribing solution. We have developed an innovative platform that allows primary care professionals to connect their patients to local services without the use of patient data. For more information and a free demo please contact us.
More useful information about Social Prescribing can be found here from the Kings Fund.