Social prescribing enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services. But does it work? And how does it fit in with wider health and care policy?
Social prescribing, sometimes referred to as community referral, is a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services. Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health. Social prescribing schemes can involve a variety of activities which are typically provided by voluntary and community sector organisations. Examples include volunteering, arts activities, group learning, gardening, befriending, cookery, healthy eating advice and a range of sports. There are many different models for social prescribing, but most involve a link worker or navigator who works with people to access local sources of support.