PATIENTS in Coventry, Rugby and North Warwickshire could soon be prescribed a visit to a dance club, as a charity announced a new social prescribing service for the region.
Health Exchange has teamed up with NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCG) in Coventry, Rugby and Warwickshire North to provide social prescribing services, which will support GPs and patients by promoting patient wellbeing and health.
Social prescribing is a means of referring patients with social, emotional or practical needs to a range of local, non-clinical services. Often, they are provided by the local voluntary sector, but statutory services provided by councils, housing associations or the NHS can also be involved.
Prescriptions can include referrals to everything from arts groups and volunteering, to activities that involve physical exercise such as gardening and dance clubs. Support can also be provided to help with day-to-day living arrangements, such as benefits advice.
To deliver the service, Health Exchange will provide link workers to five Primary Care Networks in North Warwickshire, as well as to any patient registered with a GP across the Coventry, Rugby and Warwickshire North CCGs.
The service will help each patient develop a personalised support plan, which will explore the social prescribing options that could benefit them, as well as ways to improve their health and wellbeing.
Dr Sarah Raistrick, GP and clinical chair of NHS Coventry and Rugby CCG, said: “We look forward to working with Health Exchange who will help our local population to connect with a fantastic range of activities and organisations in the local community.
“Social prescribing is all about linking people to the appropriate services, building confidence and offering them opportunities to improve their health and wellbeing.
“Our aim is to improve the local primary care offer by collaborating with health and social care organisations and offer a person-centred view of health and wellbeing.
“As a local GP, I want to be able to support people holistically by using locally available resources that can have a positive effect on a patient’s health and wellbeing and social prescribing will be on hand to do this.”
Ron Owttrim, CEO of Health Exchange, said: “Tackling health inequalities by giving local communities the care and advice they need has always been our focus.
“The evidence shows that social prescribing can lead to a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes, including improved quality of life.
“Our team is already engaging with local practices to address barriers to engagement and access to support. We look forward to helping more with people with their mental, physical and social wellbeing.”
The service will start enrolling patients this summer. Health Exchange is also recruiting local health coaches and link workers to support the new service.