GPs encouraged to use social prescriptions
Local authorities are being encouraged to make better use of social prescribing including exercise prescriptions to improve people’s health in a new report released by the Local Government Association (LGA).
Social prescribing is a means of enabling primary care services to refer patients with social, emotional or practical needs to a range of non-clinical services including activities that involve exercise, eg, gardening or dancing, arts groups or volunteering.
The LGA is calling for a similar model to ‘green prescription’ in New Zealand where doctors encourage people to get outdoors. They say that if GPs in England and Wales wrote down moderate physical activity goals, it would benefit patients who are obese or overweight. This could be encouraging them to go for outdoor walks, activities in parks or family exercise classes run by the local council.
According to the report, five key things for local councils to consider when social prescribing are:
- involving multiple organisations including the NHS, councils and voluntary sector
- prepare the voluntary sector for the increase in referrals that is likely to occur
- involve other professionals, eg, pharmacists, nurses and social workers in referring patients to schemes
- provide additional support for clients at the beginning of an activity to help them settle in
- ensure evaluation and monitoring of the programme is considered.
An example of this model in practice is in Dorset where Weymouth and Borough Council are part of the Natural Choices group, which runs activities for GPs to refer to. These include walks, conservation work, gardening and sailing. The report includes other case studies from across the UK which have made use of social prescribing.
To find out more and to download the report please click here.
Posted on 6th September 2016