Social Prescribing – linking people up with activities or services in the community that they might benefit from. It’s about connecting people to non-medical sources of support.
Reading Voluntary Action is funded through the Berkshire West CCGs’ Partnership Development Fund to deliver this project.
We are currently accepting Social Prescribing referrals for any patients who are registered with Reading in GP practices. Referrals can be made by doctors and practice staff. We are also accepting referrals from the team of Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, for patients registered with Reading practices. Talking Therapies can also refer patients.
We employ two part-time Social Prescribers, Amber and Sarah.
Social Prescribing is of particular benefit if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Feeling socially isolated / looking for more social contact
- Wanting to improve physical health
- Lacking confidence
- Needing to find some practical support and information to improve your situation
For example, a patient, Bill, has been feeling depressed since his wife died (he was her full-time carer). He is prescribed an anti-depressant but would like to get out of the house and to regain some purpose in his life.
The Social Prescriber has the time and skills to help Bill identify his health goals and how he can achieve them. The Social Prescriber can help Bill to find a range of activities and services available in the local community. For Bill this might be
- a health walk for exercise, fresh air and company,
- joining the local Men’s Shed or Timebank to share his skills with others or
- being put in touch with Cruse Bereavement for some emotional support.
How do I get a referral?
If you and your GP think that Social Prescribing will be helpful to you, a referral can be made.
- Your GP may recognise that you would benefit from additional support to improve your health and wellbeing, and talk to you about making a referral
- Or you can ask your GP to refer you
Contact the Social Prescribing service by phone 0118 937 2273 or email email@example.com to find out more.
What happens next?
Once your GP has made a referral, you can contact us by phone or email. We will arrange a time to see you at your doctor’s surgery.
The first appointment will last around an hour and a Social Prescriber will help you to look at things you would like to change using a simple tool called the Well-being Star (pictured below). This can help identify areas in your life where local activities and sources of support could contribute to improving your health and wellbeing.
After the initial meeting, we will send you information on the specific services that we think could help, so you can contact them. If you are not feeling confident to do this, or need support to attend a new activity, please tell us. We can find you a volunteer (buddy) for the initial visit.
We will keep in contact with you every couple of weeks to see how you’re doing and after 3 – 4 months we will arrange to see you again to talk about how you are getting on. We can revisit the Well-being Star to see how things have changed for you.
Tel: 0118 937 2273 (ask for the Social Prescribing service)
Reading Voluntary Action is offering Social Prescribing in GP surgeries across Reading. The project is funded by the Berkshire West CCGs through the Partnership Development FundThe project aims to:
- Improve patient health and wellbeing
- Increase access to community resources
- Reduce GP appointments
Any registered patient can be referred by their GP for an appointment with the Social Prescriber, as long as they identify with one or more of the following:
- Feeling socially isolated / looking for more social engagement
- Wish to improve physical health
- Lacking in confidence
- Need to find practical support and information.
The Social Prescriber will help the patient to identify their personal health goals using the Well-being Star and give details of activities, support and services locally which contribute to those goals. If the patient needs support/encouragement to attend the identified activities, they will be matched with a volunteer (buddy), for the initial visit.
- GP discusses Social Prescribing with the patient and agrees that it could provide additional support to enable the patient to address their health and wellbeing.
- GP completes referral form with name, contact information, referral criteria, and any additional information subject to the agreement of the patient.
- GP gives top copy to the patient and retains one copy for patient record. and encourages them to make contact with the Social Prescribing team. If the patient is anxious about contacting the service but thinks it may be of benefit, they can request that we contact them and the referral can be sent to us from the GP.
- Patient contacts Social Prescribing team at Reading Voluntary Action and an appointment is arranged, at the surgery if possible. The first appointment takes around an hour and will involve discussion of the patient’s health and wellbeing goals, options for signposting and use of the Well-being Star.
- The patient will be given details of activities, support and services locally which could contribute to personal health goals and will be encouraged to make contact.
- If the patient needs support to attend activities , we can find a volunteer to accompany them to the first session.
- The patient will have ongoing contact with the Social Prescribing team and a final meeting after 3 – 4 months to review progress.
2016/2017 – Outcomes from the second year
In the second year, we received 129 referrals, including took 54 referrals from seven surgeries across Reading. Occupational Therapists referred 30 patients and Talking Therapies referred 8.
Of those that completed the follow up assessment in the two years that we have been delivering the Social Prescribing service, all reported improvements in health and wellbeing.
- 35% improvement in meaningful activities,
- 18% feeling more able to manage symptoms
- 18% improvements in lifestyle, including exercise and more healthy eating
- 25% feeling more positive
Patients reported benefiting from having the time to talk through what was going on for them. They found the Wellbeing Star helped to identify issues in different aspects of their lives. The information about community support and activities enabled patients to achieve their health goals and improve their wellbeing.
For more information and if you are interested in offering Social Prescribing to your patients please contact Reading Voluntary Action:
Tel: 0118 937 2273 (ask for the Social Prescribing team)