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.
Social prescribing is designed to support people with a wide range of social, emotional or practical needs, and many schemes are focused on improving mental health and physical well-being. Those who could benefit from social prescribing schemes include people with mild or long-term mental health problems, vulnerable groups, people who are socially isolated, and those who frequently attend either primary or secondary health care.