What is social prescribing?

Around one in five GP visits are for non-medical problems. Many things that affect our health can’t be treated by doctors or medicine alone. This includes loneliness, money problems, housing, education or employment status. NHS social prescribing link workers can connect you to the right community groups and services to help support you.
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What is social prescribing? 

Social prescribing is when you work in partnership with a healthcare professional known as a social prescribing link worker to identify non-medical solutions. It is a way for health professionals to connect people to community activities, groups and services that support their practical, social, and emotional needs.  

Social prescribing isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, nor is it a replacement for medical care. It complements traditional healthcare by providing holistic support tailored to individual needs, preferences, and goals. 

Social prescribing works particularly well for people who: 

  • Have one or more long-term conditions 
  • Need support with low-level mental health issues 
  • Are lonely or isolated 
  • Have financial instability or are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis 
  • Have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing. 

How can I access social prescribing? 

There are several ways to access social prescribing. GPs make a large proportion of social prescribing referrals. People can also be referred to local social prescribing link workers from a wide range of local agencies, including wider general practice, local authorities, pharmacies, multi-disciplinary teams, hospital discharge teams, social care services and housing associations. Self-referral is also encouraged.

How can a NHS social prescribing link worker help me? 

Social prescribing link workers will give you time to talk about what matters to you and take a holistic approach to your health and wellbeing to connect you to the right community groups and services. They then produce a personalised care and support plan and “link” you to organisations and services that can help. 

Examples of social prescribing services include: 

  • Helping you join a befriending group, an art class or a community gardening project if you feel lonely or isolated 
  • Connecting you to a service that helps with managing debt, claiming benefits or helping you to understand the welfare system if you’re struggling with finances 
  • Helping you take up a form of exercise that works for you if you have a health condition.