We are pleased to be part of two social prescribing projects, in Crawley and Worthing, and we wanted to share what it’s about.
Social prescribing is an initiative which supports individuals who may otherwise struggle to access advice services, ultimately to help improve their physical and mental wellbeing.
It also benefits GPs whose surgeries are part of the projects. It means they can focus on the medical issues that a patient presents with rather than social issues such as debt and housing, which should be dealt with by another organisation, or by specialists in those areas.
The two projects we’re involved with are:
Crawley: Prescription Plus
Worthing: Going Local
How does it work?
A GP sees a patient who presents with a medical problem but has underlying social needs. For example, poor housing causing recurring chest infections, loneliness causing depression or spiralling debts causing anxiety.
The GP refers the patient to the social prescribing service and this team helps the person unpick the problems, work out what’s most important to them and then refers them on to other community services to help resolve the issues.
- This early intervention means that more time can be spent by the GP on the medical issues, but that social welfare matters are identified and referred to an appropriate agency such as Citizens Advice.
In effect, our advice is the social prescription. We have seen demand increase in both Crawley and Worthing, and we are seeing real benefits for individuals – often at an earlier stage of the problem. For example, we have helped many people avoid homelessness due to our Housing Advice through Going Local.
Please take a look at the case study below for an example of how this way of working has made a huge difference to the health and wellbeing of our client.
Our client is a carer for an elderly relative, living with them and sleeping on the sofa, but experiencing long-term health issues themselves. They were working part-time but struggling financially.
We were able to identify that both the client and their relative were eligible for benefits, but they weren’t claiming them. By claiming these benefits they became significantly better off financially. This meant that our client was able to give up work to focus on their health needs.
We also looked at housing options for our client.
Our client told us that they are much happier now that they have no money worries. They had originally visited the GP to discuss a medical issue.
We are keen to widen our work through social prescribing as we are seeing real benefits for clients and GP surgeries alike.