Just what the doctor ordered?
By Bruce White, Community First Community Development Officer (Winchester)
If you’re like me, you may have heard of social prescribing but maybe you’re not sure what it is? In my work as Community Development Worker for Winchester I have been working increasingly more closely with the social prescribers based at the 3 city centre GP practices in Winchester (known as the Primary Care Network or PCN).
Research has shown that many things affect our health and wellbeing, like finances, home and social environments. For many, the GP is the first port of call when something goes wrong. But 1 in 5 of us going to our GP have needs which are non-clinical. We may be isolated, lonely or stressed. Treating these medically may not always be the correct approach for someone. That’s where social prescribers come in. GPs can refer such patients to them as they can signpost them or support them in dealing with issues around housing, employment, mental health, loneliness or social inclusion, for example. Many of these issues revolve around building relationships and collaboration and the help that’s required may not be found in a tube or bottle.
Thus, I am finding that, working in collaboration with the local social prescribers, I may be asked to explore funding possibilities, suggest venues (for therapeutic art and craft classes, Tai Chi courses, Yoga sessions or choir singing) or assist with the formation of new groups.
There is still hesitancy around social prescribing and debates around whether it should ‘sit’ somewhere else within ‘The System’, but for me it really does seem to be ‘just what the doctor ordered’!