COVID-19: Social prescriptions for health and wellbeing to play key role in post-coronavirus recovery
Written by Hitmix News on 27 March 2021
Social prescriptions, also known as community referrals, will play a key role in the recovery post-COVID-19, Sky News has been told.
Social prescribing is when GPs or NHS primary care staff refer a patient to local, non-clinical services to help with their health and wellbeing.
This can include referrals to activities like gardening, volunteering or art classes.
“We know that 20% of all GP consultations are often linked to an individual having a social problem, rather than having necessarily a clinical problem,” says Deborah Prince, director of communications from NHS Property Services which is investing £2m this year in social prescribing sites across England.
“If we can really drive social prescribing that is going to take the burdens off GPs, who we know are absolutely overwhelmed anyway, and the pandemic has had a huge impact on individuals and communities so the timing to deliver these projects now is great, more than ever.”
The NHS hopes more than 900,000 patients will be referred to social prescribing by 2023/24, as part of the government’s NHS Long Term Plan.
Image: Users and staff at Offerton Learning Disability Resource Centre, including Jamie Metcalfe (left) and Julian Hewitt (second from left)
A hospital kitchen in Axinster, Devon, used by a local charity which runs cookery classes, is one of 22 projects that has been either refurbished or developed.
At another site, £75,000 has been spent creating a multi-use garden on the grounds of Offerton Learning Disability Resource Centre in Stockport, Greater Manchester.
Jamie Metcalfe, 27, who currently accesses support at the centre, told Sky News that the garden makes him feel “awesome, really excellent”.
“I like being outside and digging in the compost,” he said.
Julian Hewitt, who also has a learning disability, said the garden has helped him through the difficulties of lockdown and the pandemic.
“I managed to cope with the virus,” he said. “I didn’t think about it, I just thought about this (garden), and managed to carry on with normal life.”
But the hope is that through additional social prescribing the garden will help an even broader range of people which will in turn benefit the people with learning disabilities and autism who already use the centre.
“This garden, and the building, has the potential to open up to anybody really,” said Debra Smith, service manager for Stockport Council Learning Disabilities.
“We are looking at connecting with mental health services. We know there have been been a lot of people with mental health during COVID and we would like those people to come and join us, to come and do some gardening.
“But part of that will be that our people will be linking in with them. It is always difficult with people with learning disabilities and autism to engage and be part of their communities, and this garden will give them the opportunity to do that.”