Insight report sets out the building blocks for social prescribing

A report setting out key learning about the conditions needed for successful social prescribing is published today.

Social prescribing: Case studies and insight from practitioners in the South West of England has been produced by Institute for Social Prescribing, hosted by the South West Academic Health Science Network’s (South West AHSN).

The 50-page document includes extensive information gathered during a year that was shaped by new approaches to social prescribing, including those influenced by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It presents case studies from five ‘test beds’ in the South West, sharing their responses to the opportunities and challenges of rolling out a range of social prescribing programmes.

It is hoped that the study will enable other organisations to understand the crucial role played by social prescribing in the health and care sector, and offer guidance on how programmes can be adopted and spread effectively.

The report’s publication coincides with the third international Social Prescribing Network Conference – Social prescribing and community – beyond the pandemic, which takes place this week.

Michael Dixon, Chair of the Institute of Social Prescribing and co-Chair of the Social Prescribing Network, who is speaking at the conference, said:

“This invaluable report distils a year’s worth of learning and insight, and is essential reading for anyone involved in the delivery of social prescribing projects. As well as celebrating the outstanding work being carried out in the South West, it highlights the possibilities for expanding and developing projects throughout the country and beyond.

 

“While COVID-19 has presented obvious challenges, the positioning of social prescribing teams has meant they are uniquely placed to support vulnerable people in our communities. This is borne out in the report’s case studies.”

Catherine Wolfgang, SW AHSN Senior Partnerships Manager, said;

“One of social prescribing’s great strengths is its localised nature. So, rather than produce a specific blueprint, this report has identified a set of eight commonalities – referred to as ‘building blocks’ – from experience gathered across the five test beds.

 

“We believe these elements can be used in different locations to accelerate impact as well as spread the learning about what works and what doesn’t from project to project.

 

“In this respect, social prescribing also feeds into the concept of personalisation – a tailored approach to care – which is a key pillar of the NHS Long Term’s plan and therefore increasingly relevant to health and care teams across the country.”

The insight report sets out comprehensive case studies of the Institute’s five test beds in Frome, Cullompton, Kingsbridge, Ilfracombe and St Austell. These describe the different approaches to social prescribing across the South West and detail the history, local context and impact they had on people, communities, professionals and commissioners.

The case studies also address the issue of health inequality, which is a significant problem in some areas of the South West and a key driver for existing and new social prescribing projects developing in the region and across England. 

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