Social Prescribing: Primary Care Liaison Project
Social prescribing is a means of enabling primary care services to refer patients with social, emotional or practical needs to a range of local, non-clinical services, often provided by the voluntary and community sector. Research into social prescribing reports benefits in three key areas (Friedli and Watson, 2004):
ü Improving mental health outcomes
ü Improving community well-being
ü Reducing social exclusion
The aim of the Social Prescribing Pilot Project was to assess the effectiveness of social prescribing for older people with mild to moderate depression or who were lonely and socially isolated. The project worked with 12 GP Practices and 6 local Age UKs across Yorkshire and Humber. Social and other non-medical issues can have an effect on an older person's health outcome. However, it is generally not possible to address these issues in a busy GP Practice.
General Practitioners referred 55 older people with mild to moderate depression or who were lonely and socially isolated to the Social Prescribing Service at their local Age UK. The service centred on an in-depth assessment of the older person's social, emotional and practical support needs. The local Age UK teams supported the older people to access the support they required. The service generated 62 referrals to Age UK services (befriending, social groups, benefit checks, Fit as a Fiddle classes etc) and 34 referrals to Statutory and other Voluntary/ Community Organisations (community transport, handyman services, local community groups etc). Older people supported through the Social Prescribing Pilot Project reported significant improvements in their emotional well-being.
The Social Prescribing Pilot Project demonstrated a successful model of partnership working between the Voluntary Sector and General Practitioners and can be replicated. As part of the authorisation process, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are required to demonstrate they have mechanisms in place to work with the voluntary sector groups. Local Age UKs can adopt social prescribing as an effective model of partnership working with CCGs and GP Practices.
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