• Behcet Bicakci

What Is Social Prescribing ?

Social prescribing is a treatment method used by doctors, nurses, and other primary care professionals to treat patients with referring them to a range of local non-clinical services such as charities and voluntary organisations (Link Workers) rather than prescribing them with drugs (medicine). Dr. Michael Dixon of NHS England describes social prescribing as “a radical rethink of medicine, planting health and healing in the heart of the community. We can’t treat everything with tablets or procedures. Health and happiness are multifactorial. As doctors, we need to stop over- medicalising patients’ issues and harness the assets in the community. Most conditions have some social component – loneliness is endemic, for instance – and we can improve patients’ lives immeasurably by addressing that.’ [1]

Social Prescribing
"Social activities are essential for our mental health and well-being". Behcet Bicakci Life Coach

Social prescribing can be provided in different ways, but the most common way is through link workers who work with people (patients) to access local sources of support. Link worker staff mainly work with patients for several sessions to encourage them to engage with local services.


Link workers are local agencies that have been involved with the scheme such as general practices, pharmacies, multi-disciplinary teams, hospital discharge teams, allied health professionals, fire services, police, job centres, social care services, housing associations, voluntary community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations. Self-referral is also encouraged [2].


Social prescribing has already been operated by NHS for both mental health and physical well-being patients in England.


Social prescribing aims to improve patients’ health holistically and reduce or stop them using drugs (medicine). Link Workers spend time with patients and helping them with exploring non-medical interventions. These activities can be daily walks, dancing, knitting, art, sports, photography, group learning, yoga, cooking, befriending, swimming lessons, gardening, fishing, walks, music, talking, etc. Link Workers might also be able to help patients with financial, legal and housing problems.

Social Activity
"Attending short courses like potography, dancing etc is great source of making friends." Behcet Bicakci Life Coach

Social prescribing is designed to focus on patients’ mental health and physical well-being by enabling them to access local sources for social, emotional, and practical reasons. People who mainly access social prescribing are including:

  • who are lonely or socially isolated,

  • disadvantaged (vulnerable) groups; such as migrants, ethnicity, age, disability, sexuality

  • who attend either primary or secondary health care

  • with one or more long-term conditions

  • who need support with their mental health

  • who have complex social needs which affect their well-being.

  • mild or long term mental health problems; e.g bipolar disorder, major depression, and people with a history of alcohol or substance abuse.[2]

People belong to above groups can benefit from social prescribing and find a solution to their mental health and physical well-being. Some studies show evidence that social prescribing works and can lead to positive outcomes, especially in the quality of life, emotional well-being, and mental and general well-being.[3] For example, a study [4] has shown improvements in anxiety levels and feelings about general health and quality of life. Also, it appears that participants and health care providers have a high level of satisfaction from the social prescription scheme.


Another study [5] shows that social prescribing scheme has helped National Health Service (NHS) in England to reduce number of patients who were attending Accident and Emergency (A&E), outpatient appointments, inpatient admissions, reductions in general practice attendance rates for most people who had received the social prescription. This show that social prescribing works and generating positive outcomes for patients, health care providers and National Health Service.


In the 21st Century, people are less social, isolated, lack time for family, socialising, daily exercise, and activities. These cause both mental and physical well-being issues. For example; As a life coach, while working with my clients, I can see from a young age to old age, they have been experiencing anxiety, stress, lack of confidence, procrastination, lack of focus and energy, etc. These problems cannot be solved with the drug (medicine ) only. After starting to work with my clients, they feel better mentally and more active physically, which also affects their energy level, concentration, and ability to focus on their studies, work, and families. This shows that social prescribing works, and it can be used as an alternative treatment.


As a life coach, I believe social prescribing should be extended to all member of society who needs help and encourage people to use this service. I also believe life coaches can be added to the Link Workers group and provide their service to the local community either paid or voluntary because Life Coaches are trained and educated to help people who want to live a better life. Life coaching sessions can help them find long-term solutions for their mental and physical health issues.


Resources

• [1]- Psychologies Magazine (September 2019) page 92-93

• [2]-NHS Website ( https://www.england.nhs.uk/personalisedcare/social-prescribing/ )

• [3]-NHS Website ( https://www.england.nhs.uk/personalisedcare/social-prescribing/ )

• [4]- The King’s Fund Website( https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/social-prescribing)

• [5]- University of West of England (UWE Bristol) Website ( https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/927254 )

• [6]- Sheffield Hallam University, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research ( https://www4.shu.ac.uk/research/cresr/ourexpertise/evaluation-rotherham-social-prescribing-pilot )

#socialprescribing #socialise #aternativemedicine #linkworker #lifecoaching #bblifecoaching1


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