Social prescribing is not a new idea – it is a means of enabling primary care services to refer patients with social, emotional or practical needs to a range of local, non-clinical services, often provided by the voluntary and community sector. It is most commonly used with patients with a mental health or long-term condition. You may have come across it in a variety of other guises such as ‘books on prescription’ or the University College London’s ‘Museums on Prescription’ project.
There are people working with a variety of therapeutic models – ecological, arts and complimentary among others. In Camden, there is a spectrum of social prescribing provision: you may have come across local initiatives like Care Navigators, Community Connectors and Community Health Advocates. These are helping to guide people with complex needs, older people, and patients in GP practices towards non-clinical interventions that help improve health and well-being.
However, social prescribing is not straightforward. Practitioners, GP’s, academics and others with an interest in social prescribing are exploring a variety of issues like definition, integrating non-clinical services with primary care, regulations and standards, creating quality provision and current research in the field.
Those involved in providing services that could be socially prescribed often encounter difficulty working with GPs who have been educated in the medical model. GPs have raised issues about the faith we have in them referring to prescribed medicines, where these are either not taken or are taken incorrectly, and the amount of medical research that offers no clear solution to a particular health problem. Social prescribing could be seen as the “Trojan horse” within the traditional medical model where “subversive commissioning” could occur and patients gain access to services such as complimentary therapies that would not have been commissioned directly by the local Clinical Commissioning Group.
There are challenges for non-clinical service providers too. What does social prescribing mean for the voluntary and community sector? Voluntary and community groups run most of the projects which patients are referred to. This places voluntary and community organisations at the core of any sustainable social prescribing project. What does this mean in the current austere climate where organisations are struggling to stay afloat?
We will be discussing the opportunities’ and challenges’ that social prescribing presents and what we can do to develop a more robust model that suits the Camden landscape at the seminar being held on the 27th June 2 – 5pm at the St Pancras and Somers Town Living Centre. Booking is essential.
In the meantime, if you would like some further information about social prescribing please contact Peter Simonson, Referral and Signposting Co-ordinator firstname.lastname@example.org. 020 7284 6550.