We are among providers supporting ‘social prescriptions’ in Luton – a pilot scheme being implemented by GPs to help people at risk of social isolation.
Funds are available so that initially GPs in Biscott and Marsh Farm wards of Luton can refer patients to Relate Bedfordshire and Luton for free counselling support.
These non-clinical ‘prescriptions’ are designed to help patients adopt healthier lifestyles, or to improve wider social aspects of their lives.
“For example, evidence shows that people who have a strong network of social support are more likely to take prescribed medicines,” says local Relate CEO Angela Foll. “Our own research shows that good relationships result in a healthier lifestyle.”
Other services patients can be offered under the pilot include debt counselling, walking clubs and cookery classes.
The main goal of ‘social prescribing’ is to promote better patient outcomes, whether that is reduced heart disease, better management of diabetes, or improved mental health. But in a climate of reducing budgets and increasing demand in the NHS, they are also part of concerted efforts to cut the number of referrals into the acute healthcare sector or uptake of more costly interventions.
Sanjeev Kumar, social prescription project manager, says: “Through social prescription patients can access a whole range of support which complements their medical treatment and they’ll have the support of their community navigator to help them access the best support for them. We’re sure patients will really benefit from the services offered by Relate and we’re really pleased to welcome them to the social prescription programme.”