HSE Health and Wellbeing present at All Ireland Social Prescribing Conference

Health Ministers from North and South to address All-Ireland Social Prescribing conference in Derry

Today (Thursday, 23 June 2022), HSE Health and Wellbeing will represent the organisation at the third All Ireland Social Prescribing Conference in Derry.

This All-Ireland conference aims to further enable the growth and development of social prescribing north and south and provide a forum for shared learning throughout the island of Ireland. HSE Health and Wellbeing through the Sláintecare Healthy Communities have been supporting the increased growth of Social Prescribing services and will be addressed by Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan TD. and Northern Ireland’s Minister for Health, Robin Swann MLA.

Social prescribing is a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other health care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical programmes and services, through a community based Social Prescribing link worker for the purpose of improving health and wellbeing. Examples include volunteering, arts activities, gardening, dog walking, cookery and a range of sports. They may also link people back into HSE programmes and services for example Diabetes Support courses, Living Well programme, Stress prevention programmes or Smoking cessation services.

Presenting at the Conference, Dr. Aisling Sheehan, National Lead HSE Alcohol and Mental Health and Wellbeing Programmes, said: “There are currently 31 HSE-funded social prescribing services across the country, 19 of which are Sláintecare Healthy Communities sites based in areas of social and economic disadvantage.” 

Dr Sheehan added: “The HSE continues to advocate for the sustainability and expansion of social prescribing and it is now part of health service provision and is one of the key actions in the HSE ‘Stronger Together’ mental health promotion plan launched earlier this year.”

Minister Frank Feighan said: “I am delighted to support the third All-Ireland Social Prescribing Conference. Social prescribing is a simple, and yet profound, idea, linking people with sources of community support and social interaction, through arts and creativity, physical activity, green activity, computerised therapy and more. Social prescribing counteracts social isolation and improves social connectedness for people; an important support for mental health, particularly following the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Through Sláintecare, the HSE and Healthy Ireland we are therefore providing more support for social prescribing, through the HSE Social Prescribing Framework, Sláintecare Integration Fund projects, and through the Sláintecare Healthy Communities Programme.”

Over the past five years a different approach to healthcare has grown throughout the island of Ireland, one that is backed through policy and funding by government departments and the health services in Northern Ireland and in the Republic.

The problems of social isolation, fear and loneliness and often associated inactivity, have negative consequences for health and can particularly impact older age groups, those with chronic health problems, people with mental health difficulties and psychosocial needs, carers, single parents, migrant and immigrant and minority ethnic groups. Social prescribing began as a community-led movement that seeks to address these challenges in a holistic way using an assets-based approach by empowering participants to improve their health & wellbeing.

The conference will bring project managers, strategists, social prescribers and people who have received social prescriptions, together for a two-day event to discuss and further discover how this innovative approach to health can be expanded. Follow the conference conversation on Twitter #AISP22.

Last updated on: 23 / 06 / 2022