What is Social Prescribing?
Social prescribing is where health professionals such as GP’s and nurses refer patients to receive non-medical support that can help improve our health and well-being. This could be things like connecting us to the local church and established community programmes like Intentional Health to improve our mental health or help manage our weight. Social prescribing enables us to take much more control of our health and helps us be more connected to the world around us. It also helps reduce the burden on our over stretched health services for every £1 invested in social prescribing there is a saving of £1.69 to the NHS.
How does Social Prescribing work?
It works when we visit a health professional who may suggest that a referral into social prescribing could help along-side or even instead of medication. A follow up appointment will be made at the surgery with a trained ‘link worker’ where a longer conversation can take place about your health and what is important to you. The link worker will walk you through potential options and be on hand to further support you to take up a social prescription with a local group. Lots of social prescribing services are run by charity, voluntary and community groups to include the church. Intentional Health might be one of the most credible church led community health interventions in the UK, because it is evidence based and robustly evaluated, and is fully aligned to a social prescribing ethos.
Will there be social prescribing in my area?
The government has pledged investment for 1000 social prescribing link workers by 2021. By 2023 it is estimated link workers will be handling nearly 1 million non-medical appointments. This would mean that social prescribing options will be in most surgeries across England. Many social prescribing link workers are already in place. Intentional Health is working to help more local churches to work closely with the health sector in their local community, and connect with link workers to support social prescribing, especially where it encourages people to link with the local church. If you are a link worker and want more information, please get in touch!
Can connecting with my local church through social prescribing help me improve my health?
Yes, new evidence is telling us that social prescribing referrals into competent church-based community interventions like Intentional Health will make a difference to your health. This is because you are prioritising self-care by connecting with others who can support you in your journey to better health. Alongside this Intentional Health uses government standard content in all its material so health messages are in line with evidence-based practice. The church is often at the heart of the community and a driver for helping people through difficult times including periods of poor physical, emotional and spiritual health. It may feel a little scary to join a group but with the help of the local social prescribing link worker and our friendly Intentional Health coaches we aim to make it as easy as possible, and you’ll probably make friends for life.
What impact does Intentional Health have for people who attend?
We have robust evidence of statistically significant positive change across a range of health outcomes. These changes lie at the heart of the pressing social challenge we seek to help local churches address, namely the poor physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing experienced by people across the UK.
We work with experts at Exeter University Medical School to validate the social impact of the Intentional Health programme. We used anonymised data collected via questionnaires, which were completed by group members at the beginning and end of the 10-session programme. Over 3 years, we collected voluntarily supplied data from around 100 people, who participated in 27 community programmes, delivered in 5 counties across the UK.