What is social prescribing?
Social prescribing recognises how social, economic and environmental factors affect people’s health, where medication alone is unlikely to provide a sustainable improvement.
The aim of social prescribing is to put people and their community at the centre of their treatment. This means that people who feel isolated, for example, can benefit from the programmes available through social prescribing to help them feel part of their community; something that medication would not be able to provide.
How does social prescribing work?
Social prescribing works by enabling all local agencies to refer people to a link worker. Link workers are key to delivering social prescribing.
NHS England describe link workers giving ‘people time and focus on what matters to the person as identified through shared decisions making or personalised care and support planning.
The NHS has developed a model for social prescribing which indicates key elements which will make up a robust local social prescribing service. Each element will require consideration of quality deliverables.
Through discussion and review, a ‘triple lock’ approach for link workers has been put in place to as part of the quality assurance for social prescribing.
TCV and social prescribing
- TCV’s Green Gym sessions are prescribed by GPs to patients to encourage them to improve their health and wellbeing, as part of social prescribing.
- The benefits of Green Gyms are not just physical, they help people make connections within their community and prevent people from feeling lonely and isolated.
- The Department of Health has also recognised the invaluable impact that Green Gyms can have on those who take part.
“For me, the social and community aspects of volunteering have been the most notable. Years of isolation had severely blunted by ability to interact with people socially, but Green Gym has provided a safe environment for me to relearn the skills I’d lost.”Mark, Green Gym Volunteer
In January 2018, the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) funded TCV to act as lead in the development of a quality assurance process for social prescribing. Thanks to the £397,000 grant from The National Lottery, we developed how social prescribing can be used by clinicians to engage with the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) more comprehensively and to support the VCSE, in turn, to give confidence to the health system.
The grant enabled TCV to work with the VCSE across the UK, NHS England, Public Health Scotland, Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland, local healthcare services, commissioners, academics and charities to support them when developing their own social prescribing programme.
From this, TCV:
- Led the development of the Quality Assurance for Social Prescribing tool
- Supported the Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) to develop their Social Prescribing Frameworks
- Sat on the panel that developed the NHS England Common Outcomes Framework.