Volunteer Social Prescribers

Social Prescribing, (SP) in our practice started in March of 2018 with a presentation from CAB about their work. As a result of this we started our own programme of Social Prescribing. We started training of our own volunteers, initially there were four. By October of 2018 we were ready to launch the programme in our surgery. A presentation was made to the whole practice at the end of that month and our first SP session  took place on November 7th 2018.

Since then we have gone from strength to strength and we now have a team of 9 volunteers with more attending our training sessions.

The patients are referred to our programme by any of the medical staff or any of the receptionists or patients can self-refer. Indeed, without the active support of the practice SP would not be as successful as the data suggests it is . We have seen over 110 patients.

SP the practice to refer patients who suffer from:

  • social isolation;
  • low mood;
  • mild depression;
  • anxiety;
  • addictions;
  • long term conditions;
  • the physically inactive;

to community support programmes which can include:

  • Social clubs;
  • Physical activities;
  • Arts and Crafts;
  • Counselling;
  • Peer support groups for those with long-term conditions;
  • Advice and guidance;
  • Volunteering groups.

Our SP addresses the individual needs of a person using a holistic approach to health. Social prescription is an alternative support which empowers people to take greater control over their own health and wellbeing. Patients experience many health benefits such as: better social connections and improved physical and mental wellbeing. We refer patients to trusted community-led health organisations for non-medical support. Progress reports are provided on patient engagement and improvements in health and wellbeing. This encourages self-management and potentially reduces the demand on some clinical services. Through SP we connect a variety of non-clinical, local support programmes and services. This helps people to make healthy choices, strengthen their resilience and stay connected to their community. SP enables community organisations to respond to the identified needs within the community they serve.

We have also started our own ‘therapy’ garden based at our Sandridge practice. On Saturday 21st September some 9 people from the practice planted our spring bulbs. Work will be ongoing in the garden throughout the year.

The Process

  1. A GP or Primary Health Care professional makes a referral to a Social Prescriber based in the surgery.
  2. The Social Prescriber and the patient meet 1-1 to discuss individual support needs.
  3. The patient is supported to engage in suitable community-based activities and services.
  4. The social prescriber can provide on-going support during the patient’s journey to improved health and well-being.