Social Prescribing 101: What is social prescribing?

Social Prescribing 101: What is social prescribing?

 Thu, March 10, 2022

A Castlehaven introduction to social prescribing & the six ways to well-being

Last year we partnered with the Prince of Wales Group Practice in Kentish Town to recruit a Social Prescribing Link worker to work with Prince of Wales Practice patients and Castlehaven referrals. This year, Alison (who you might recognise from our Ageactivity 60+ team) took on this role of Social Prescribing Link worker. She is based both at the Prince of Wales Practice and here at Castlehaven and is working with the Castlehaven team to design a health and well-being programme to support Prince of Wales Practice patients and our community with a wide range of social, emotional, and practical needs.

In the coming months, we'll be announcing more details about this programme. But in the meantime, we caught up with Alison, and our Environmental Project Manager, Catherine, (who is a qualified Social and Therapeutic Horticulture Practitioner), to get the low-down on social prescribing and the benefits for our local community.

What is social prescribing? 

Alison: Social prescribing connects people to practical and emotional support and activities in the local community.

what does social prescribing involve? 

Alison: Many factors occurring in our lives, can negatively impact health and wellbeing. GPs and other medical professionals can support clinically but are often unable to help with many of the things affecting people, such as loneliness, isolation, financial worries, housing, chronic health problems, being a carer, mental health difficulties, disability and bereavement.

Social prescribing is a holistic approach to these issues and works alongside medical professionals and agencies. Social Prescribing Link Workers have time to build trusting relationships, work with what matters to each person, create a plan together and introduce people to community support and activities.

In what capacity do social prescribers work with GP surgeries?   

Alison: Social Prescribers are often based in GP practices and people are referred to them by GPs and nurses. Referrals can also be made by other agencies such as pharmacies, multi-disciplinary teams, hospital discharge teams, social care services and people can also refer themselves.

Who benefits from social prescribing?  

Alison: 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 wellbeing. Social Prescribing is also for people who:

  • • have one or more long-term condition 
  • • need support with their mental health 
  • • are lonely or isolated 
  • • have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing
What is the impact of social prescribing?

Alison: There is a growing body of evidence that social prescribing can lead to a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes. Studies have pointed to improvements in quality of life and emotional wellbeing, mental and general wellbeing, and levels of depression and anxiety.  

What activities do you prescribe?  

Alison: These might include volunteering opportunities, arts and crafts, walking groups, gardening and environmental activities, befriending, group learning, cookery, healthy eating advice and a range of physical exercise and movement activities.

Why is the social aspect important in social prescribing?  

Alison: Since the pandemic, loneliness and isolation have increased. Feeling more in control of one’s health, being involved and part of the local community and meeting new people and making friends can make a difference to loneliness and isolation which impact on wellbeing and mental health. 

What are the Six Ways to Well-being? 

Catherine: The six ways to well-being are a set of actions that promote people's physical, emotional and mental health well-being. The six ways have been used by health organisations, schools and community projects across the UK and around the world to help people take action to improve their well-being. They are: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give and Care for the planet.  

How does Castlehaven currently promote the six ways of well-being? 

Catherine: Here at Castlehaven, we believe that gardening, horticulture and nature is one of the best ways to promote these ways to well-being. We organise and deliver a variety of gardening, horticultural, nature-related or outdoor activities to support people to improve our local communities' physical activity and promote good mental health.

  • • We help people connect through growing food and participating in nature-related arts & crafts

  • • Our community garden sessions are incredibly active, and the Castlehaven community park provides an open space for local residents to walk and exercise

  • • The Castlehaven community garden is a fantastic place to take notice of the changing of the seasons and the variety of birds, bees and butterflies that are attracted to all the plants, flowers and crops we grow

  • • Our horticulture hub and community park provide the perfect environment to keep learning. Our community gardens sessions allow participants to learn about promoting biodiversity, composting and growing food

  • • Volunteering your time and knowledge to help another person can be hugely rewarding. Many of our community gardeners give up their time to help provide a safe and beautiful open space for the community, and we have plenty of volunteering opportunities for all ages and abilities

  • • We provide opportunities for the local community to care for the planet. We have run CSR days to help litter pick and community wildflower planting sessions to increase the biodiversity in our community park

 If you're interested in connecting with nature and implementing the six ways of well-being in your life, find out more about our weekly community gardening sessions here.

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