Social prescribing involves empowering individuals to improve their health and wellbeing and social welfare by connecting them to non-medical and community support services. It is an innovative and growing movement, with the potential to reduce the financial burden on the NHS and particularly on primary care (The Social Prescribing Network).
"One problem is that when you sell the concept to GPs they think there's loads of free stuff"
Social prescribing is not alway a win-win, a April 2018 article from Third Sector, looks at the importance of funding for social prescribing projects and the great results that come from investing in this work. This includes a quote from Macc Chief Executive Mike Wild.
Primary Care Led Prevention Programme
Manchester City Council, in partnership with a range of organisations including Macc, has developed the 'One Team' Primary Care Led Prevention Programme proposal (attached below) which will be put forward as part of the Transformation Proposal submitted to the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership. The Prevention Programme proposal takes a community centred, asset based approach to delivering care, and promoting health and wellbeing for residents of the 12 One Team neighbourhoods. The 5 objectives of the programme will be for neighbourhood teams to;
1) Support residents in strengthening the social determinants of health such as employment and skills, finance, housing and social connectedness
2) Support the adoption of healthy lifestyle choices across the life course such as physical activity, nutrition, smoking cessation and emotional wellbeing
3) Improve the quality of life, health outcomes and life expectancy of people with long-term conditions by identifying long-term conditions early (“finding the missing 1000s”), and facilitating a proactive approach to management of long-term conditions
4) Optimise the health of people with long term conditions, both by enhancing standards of clinical care and supporting the mental health and social needs of people with these conditions
5) Use asset-based, personalised and holistic approaches to enable self care.
Social prescribing is an important part of this approach and there is reference in the proposal document to a social prescribing hub - Community Links for Health. It states that:
"A coherent citywide social prescribing model will be developed to give people who access health and care services, a link to social and non-medical support within the community. One clear referral system or single point of access will allow One Team health and care practitioners (starting with GPs) to connect people with various sources of support that address the social determinants of health. Embedding this model will enable the transformation to an asset-based approach to health, and similar approaches that have been tested in the city to be delivered at scale, and a time-limited transformation team to deliver the large scale change required."
Also, this approach will be adopted separately in North Manchester soon as the CCGs have already agreed to adopt the Prevention Programme proposal. The tender for provision of this programme will be released shortly.
King's Fund - What is social prescribing?
A February 2017 article by The King's Fund describes what social prescribing is, and gives an update about the latest evidence about its benefits and how it fits into wider health and care policy. It states that 'There is emerging evidence that social prescribing can lead to a range of positive health and well-being outcomes' but there is limited systematic evidence at the moment.
Rotherham Social Prescribing Service
The Rotherham Social Prescribing Service is a flagship project that has ran since 2012. It helps people with long term health conditions to access a wide variety of services and activities provided by voluntary organisations and community groups in Rotherham. Social prescribing is part of a wider initiative in Rotherham known as case management. Funded by Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group, the case management scheme brings together health, social care and voluntary sector professionals, who work together in a co-ordinated way to plan care for people with long term health conditions. This joint working is known as integrated case management. GPs lead case management teams and are responsible for identifying patients who are eligible for the scheme.
People can be referred by their GP to the service where they will then be contacted by a Social Prescribing Worker known as a VCS Advisor. The advisor will arrange to visit the person, either in their home or at the GP surgery, to discuss voluntary or community services that could help them to improve health and wellbeing. This is in addition to any NHS or social care support they may already be receiving.
For more information on a recent project evaluation, you can visit the Voluntary Action Rotherham website.
National Social Prescribing Network
The National Social Prescribing Network consists of health professionals, researchers, academics, social prescribing practitioners, representatives from the community and voluntary sector, commissioners and funders, patients and citizens. They are working together to share knowledge and best practice, to support social prescribing at a local and national level and to inform good quality research and evaluation. The network is currently funded by a Wellcome Trust Seed Award (Principal Investigator, Dr Marie Polley) and a donation from Fit for Work UK. It is a collaboration between the University of Westminster and the College of Medicine. NCVO have an involvement and Macc as members are involved in a national programme of infrastructure organisations delivering social prescribing. Learning will be shared as an element of this partnership.
For more information including a list of steering committee members and access to their bulletins, you can visit the National Social Prescribing Network page of the University of Westminster website.