Social prescribing recognises that health is heavily determined by social factors such as poverty, isolation and loneliness. Social prescribing offers GPs and other health professionals a means of referring people to a range of non-clinical community supports which can have significant benefits for their overall health and wellbeing. The fact that many of the activities on offer from social prescribing are not available because of coronavirus has been an added challenge.
Social prescribing generally involves three key components
- A referral from a healthcare professional,
- Consultation with a link worker
- An agreed referral to a local community activity. Examples include; art, cookery, meditation, GAA, men’s sheds, music, drama, walking groups and many more.
Social prescribing can also enable and support people to access health services such as Smoking Cessation, Self-management support programmes and others.
In spite of the fact that most community based activities are on hold currently, social prescribing link workers across the country have been adapting their support in innovative and safe ways to make sure it is practical and relevant to responding to the challenges presented by COVID‐19.
Social Prescribing services are now available in over 30 locations around the country, supported by Slaintecare, Healthy Ireland and the HSE as well as Community based organisations such as Local Development Companies and Family Resource Centres. Social prescribing projects are funded differently in every area – some are funded by the HSE, other common funding sources include the Department of Health (via Healthy Ireland and Slaintecare Integration funds) and from the Community and Voluntary sector.
The HSE Mental Health and Wellbeing Programme in collaboration with representatives from across the HSE and the Community and Voluntary sector is in the process of developing a framework for how social prescribing can be mainstreamed and integrated across the Health Service at Community Healthcare Network level. This framework will be completed and launched in 2021.
For further information please contact Orla Walsh, Project Manager, HSE Mental Health & Wellbeing programme: firstname.lastname@example.org