Unity and Simplyhealth are joining forces to run a pilot social prescription service in Andover. The project will provide a bridge between the GP surgeries and the community organisations delivering activities that contribute to people’s health and wellbeing.
With health and social care services coming under increasing pressure and a population better informed about the side effects of medications, it is becoming more urgent to explore community contributions that add to existing clinical treatment for people with long-term health conditions. The project will provide a social prescription service for patients, enabling people to access non-clinical and community support services centred on various forms of community activity, as an alternative or a complement to more traditional medical interventions.
GPs and other frontline healthcare professionals will be able to refer patients to a Unity link worker. This person will design a personalised solution with each patient – i.e. ‘co-produce’ their ‘social prescription’- so that people with social, emotional or practical needs are empowered to find solutions which will improve their health and wellbeing, using services provided by the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. A team of volunteers will then offer practical support to patients to help them get started.
Social prescribing can be used to empower the patient to look for solutions to social problems before a crisis occurs that might affect their physical or mental health. It can reduce the burden on acute health care; deliver more effective adult social care and mental health support; and tackle social isolation.
Unity Chief Executive said: “We know that there is a huge amount of community activity across the Test Valley. We are delighted that this grant from Simplyhealth gives us the chance to open up the health benefits of community activities to GP patients and make those activities an explicit part of improving people’s health. Social prescribing is fast becoming a critical part of solving the growing crisis affecting the NHS and social care organisations”.
“Roger Cotton, Head of Charitable Giving at Simplyhealth, added: “Through our charitable giving we aim to help tackle health and care issues the Andover in and Winchester area. One of the issues we have identified is isolation of the elderly. We hope this pilot will help reduce the isolation felt by elderly members of our community and empower others to access community support services to better their everyday health.”