Expansion Of Social Prescribing

Social prescribing, sometimes referred to as community referral, is a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services.

Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health.

Social prescribing schemes can involve a variety of activities which are typically provided by voluntary and community sector organisations. Examples include volunteering, arts activities, group learning, gardening, befriending, cookery, healthy eating advice and a range of sports.

Social prescribing is designed to support people with a wide range of social, emotional or practical needs, and many schemes are focussed on improving mental health and physical well-being. Those who could benefit from social prescribing schemes include people with mild or long-term mental health problems, vulnerable groups, people who are socially isolated, and those who frequently attend either primary or secondary health care.

There are many different models for social prescribing, but most involve a link worker or navigator who works with people to access local sources of support. The Bromley by Bow Centre is one of the oldest and best-known social prescribing projects in the country. Staff at the Centre work with patients, often over several sessions, to help them get involved in more than 30 local services ranging from swimming lessons to legal advice.

We have now introduced social prescribing across the entire borough as part of the Tower Hamlets Together programme of work.

Useful contacts
Kam Kaur, Tower Hamlets GP Care Group: Kkaur4@nhs.net
Mike Fitchett, Tower Hamlets GP Care Group: mikefitchett@nhs.net