Test Valley Community Services has secured a National Lottery grant to set up a social prescription service in North Baddesley. The project will provide a bridge between the GP surgery 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 alternatives to a one-dimensional reliance on drug 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 TVCS link worker. This person, based in the surgery, 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, often using services provided by the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector’. A team of volunteers based at the surgery 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.

 

TVCS 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 the Big Lottery Fund 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”.

Lisa Wakeford, Practice Manager at North Baddesley Surgery, said “We are very pleased to be working on this important project with TVCS. The extra ability to link people actively with community activities that can help improve their health will not only help those patients themselves; we also hope that it will benefit everybody by helping to reduce waiting times for routine appointments”.

 

Notes to editors

 

Social prescribing also recognises that the third sector is a largely untapped asset that can deliver further integration between health and social care in the creation of a more responsive and efficient local health economy. So much activity takes place under the radar; many of the groups and individuals providing this activity struggle to make their potential benefits felt because of the lack of a very basic infrastructure to bring out the full impact of community assets working in unison. Similarly, busy GPs cannot be expected to know everything that is available.

The interventions in question are known to have a number of health benefits for both body and mind, e.g.:

  • improved mental wellbeing (lower depression, anxiety, etc)
  • improved self-management of long-term conditions
  • improved social wellbeing (reduction of social isolation)
  • improved cardiovascular levels (blood pressure, heart rate)
  • mitigation of dementia (improved memory and communication)
  • movement and dexterity (reduced impact of musculoskeletal wear and tear)

The main beneficiaries will be people of any age who fall into the estimated 20% of GP patients for whom access to non-clinical resources will support, maintain, and improve physical or mental health or emotional and cognitive functioning. Families, carers and children will also benefit.

For more detailed analysis and evaluation of social prescribing, please refer to the National Social Prescribing Network, co-ordinated by the University of Westminster:

https://www.westminster.ac.uk/patient-outcomes-in-health-research-group/projects/social-prescribing-network

NHS England have appointed a new National Clinical Champion for Social Prescribing: Dr Michael Dixon.

http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/home/finance-and-practice-life-news/gp-leader-appointed-clinical-champion-for-social-prescribing/20032206.article