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.
Community-centred ways of working can be more effective than more traditional services in improving the health and wellbeing of marginalised groups and vulnerable individuals. For this reason, they are an essential way of reducing health inequalities within a local area or community.
Green space is an essential resource that can bring both mental and physical benefits to patients. The term green prescribing is used to describe the social prescription of nature-based interventions on land.
Why is green prescribing important?
Nature based interventions including walks, farming and horticulture activities can bring improvements to cognition, mood and attention. Participating in green prescribing has been shown to improve physical health and self esteem.
The term blue prescribing is used to describe the social prescription of nature-based interventions around water, for example using coastal areas or wetland visitor centres and reserves.
Blue spaces are associated with lower levels of anxiety and mood disorders, and positively associated with self-reported mental and general health.