Lincolnshire residents are being helped to become more involved in community life and improve their health and wellbeing thanks to a range of Social Prescribing initiatives.
Social Prescribing is a way for primary care services to refer patients with social, emotional or practical needs to a range of local non-clinical services.
GPs, nurses, housing providers, social care teams and even family members have referred people to the Social Prescribing service to work with them to identify non-medical interventions such as social activity, diet, relaxation and exercise.
The services are often provided by the local voluntary sector, but statutory services provided by councils, housing associations or the NHS can also be involved.
The prescriptions can include referrals to everything from arts groups and volunteering to activities that involve physical exercise, such as gardening and dance clubs.
Ben Barley, Chief Executive at Voluntary Centre Services in Lincoln, said: “Social Prescribing has proven benefits across the country including increasing independence and social inclusion.
“Early indications for Lincolnshire support this with a range of participants benefitting from community-based support with positive impacts on their physical and mental wellbeing.
“Some participants have also indicated that the support they have received has also reduced their requirement for GP visits, hospital and transitional care requirements.
“There is emerging evidence that Social Prescribing can lead to a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes for people, such as improved quality of life and emotional wellbeing.
“The aim is that Social Prescribing can lead to a substantial reduction in the use of NHS services, including GP attendances.
“Identifying gaps in provision and areas for development remains our focus going forward to ensure we can help to enhance and sustain the diverse range of groups, organisations and activities available within our communities.
“Initial priorities and areas of ongoing need are around mental health, loneliness and isolation.”
One local social prescribing participant completely lost her confidence since being hospitalised for falling. She was referred to the programme by the community Occupational Therapist.
The patient said: “The social prescribing link worker has been invaluable in helping me see that I didn’t have to accept my current situation as final.
“She has supported me and at the same time challenged me to think and act differently. I would not have had the confidence without this support and would have probably been unable to leave the house and become more frail and socially isolated.
“I have had small successes along the way such as being able to use my hoover and start cooking again. My physical strength and mood have improved significantly. I am regularly practising exercises at home and have been motivated to do so because I can see the difference it has made.”