One’s health is affected by more than just physical harm to the body. Factors such as stress, unemployment, debt, loneliness, lack of education and support in early childhood, insecure housing and discrimination can affect 30-55% of our health outcomes. This is why the concept of ‘social prescribing’ has been introduced by the NHS to provide an integrated and holistic approach to healthcare.
In the UK, one in five GP appointments is related to wider social needs rather than medical issues. Social prescribers (also called social prescribing link workers) work together with GP practices to ensure that the wider needs of patients are addressed. They connect patients to groups, activities and services in their communities to meet their social, emotional and practical needs that affect their health and wellbeing. They are the bridge between your GP and all the non-healthcare services available in your community.
Any member of your GP practice team may suggest a referral to a social prescriber. A social prescriber will then have an appointment with you to discuss your situation, assess your needs and advise you of support available in your community. You can talk to your social prescriber about any non-medical issue including debt, loneliness, education, discrimination etc. and they will be able to link you to the right services to support you. Whatever you’re facing, you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself.
Anne’s experience as a BGPA Social Prescriber in Bromley
Being a social prescriber can be very rewarding. It’s wonderful to be able to connect someone who needs help to a service that can support them – whether it’s a community group I’ve known about for a while and recommend often, or a specialist charity that I’ve just discovered recently.
I love seeing the difference that social prescribing can make in people’s lives. While it can be challenging when someone has their hopes pinned on finding a specific service that doesn’t exist, most people don’t expect sudden miracles. Most people just want to be heard and get support in dealing with whatever issue is making their life tougher than it needs to be.
We all deserve to find connection with our fellow humans, find compassion and support when we need it. Having access to a social prescriber via your GP surgery means that you don’t need to be an expert in everything your local community has to offer – just ask for help in finding the support you need, and we’ll work it out together from there.
Life is hard sometimes. You don’t have to do it all alone.