Social prescribing, or forms of it, date back to the 80s, but it wasn’t widely practised nationwide. In recent years though the NHS has embraced it at a national level. But what is ‘Social Prescribing’? Simply put, it’s help that doesn’t come in a bottle or in the shape of a pill. Many people don’t need a medical or physical response to their situation. Instead, a holistic approach to their predicament might work better.
As I mentioned in another blog, social isolation is something that has increased in recent times due to lockdown. And, of course, there is no pill that you can take for it. Instead, those suffering from social isolation might get better help from a ‘link worker’. This is a person who is able to point someone in the right direction for help. That help can appear in many different forms. For some, it might be a bike ride, using a service like Cycling Without age for example. Others might want to meet at a café and enjoy a cuppa and a biscuit.
Jenny* is a lady in her late 60s who was referred to us due to anxiety and being socially isolated. She moved to a new town for a fresh start after the first lockdown. She didn’t know many people which resulted in more anxiety about going out. Her case worker spent a few months talking with her on the phone before they met in person. After a few meetings Jenny’s confidence grew enough so that they went for a walk.
A short while later her case worker suggested that she help with teas and coffees at Social Prescribing Drop Ins. Jenny agreed to this, even though she was anxious, because she wanted to meet new people. Jenny has done so well that she now helps other people who suffer from social anxiety. Jenny now also makes use of our Cycling Without Age service and often goes out with a friend.
Because of this intervention she now volunteers weekly to help other people. This is what social prescribing can do. This isn’t something that would have been possible going the traditional route of taking medicine. It required a social component and a human touch.
*Jenny is a fictitious name