3 Social Prescribing Tools
The term ‘social prescribing’ is used to describe a variety of approaches by which individuals are linked to resources and services within local communities with the aim of improving mental and physical health and wellbeing. It encapsulates the concept that people’s health is largely determined by socio-economic factors, and that people who have access to social supports within their communities are healthier.
Social prescribing is an important approach to self-management of mental health. It is based on a clear rationale that supporting people to access and use non-medical sources of support can contribute to improved mental health.
This can include opportunities for the arts, physical activity, outdoor activity, learning, volunteering, social support, mutual aid, befriending services and self-help, as well as support with benefits, legal advice, etc.
There is evidence that social prescribing can reduce social isolation, increase resilience and confidence, giving individuals an increased sense of purpose and belonging to their communities.
It can be useful for individuals with long-term conditions, those who need more support with their mental health, have complex social needs that affect their wellbeing or feel lonely or isolated.
Community Link Workers will have a key role to play in growing community mental health resilience and increasing the use of social prescribing.
For further reading and research evidence see Appendix 2.
This web-based resource maps community assets and connects people with local sources of support that will enable them to manage their own health conditions more effectively. ALISS was co-produced by working with disabled people, people with long term conditions, unpaid carers, health and social care professionals and technology professionals.
It is a web-based resource, which means that it is available to General Practitioners and Mental Health Teams to access information about local community support services.
Third sector interfaces (TSIs) provide a single point of access for support and advice for the third sector within local areas. There is a TSI in each local authority area in Scotland.
The TSIs can provide information on volunteering opportunities, as well as local community and voluntary activities and support.
Volunteer Scotland is the national centre for volunteering and offers a one-stop digital gateway for anyone looking for volunteer opportunities.
The Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, can complete an AHP Health and Work Report to provide support to employers to meet health needs of employees.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) employs Disability Employer Advisers and Youth Employability Coaches. They give specialist support to jobseekers aligned to job centres and support all customers with Health and Disability. There are also DWP Work Psychologists for specialist support available where required; this is assessed through the Job Coaches.
The Employability Pipeline model has been developed as a framework to support the effective delivery of employability services, including Scotland’s first iteration of devolved employability provision, Fair Start Scotland. The service provides 12–18 months of tailored, flexible, and person-centred support to those facing significant challenges moving into fair and sustainable work. Up to 12 months in-work support is also available to ensure people remain supported while in work.
3.6 Green Health Partnerships
Green Health Partnerships (GHPs) (Appendix 4) are a place-based approach to increasing the use of the natural environment as a health-promoting asset. Four pilot GHPs were established in Lanarkshire, Dundee, North Ayrshire and Highland between 2017 and 2018, as part of the wider Our Natural Health Service (ONHS) programme, led by NatureScot with the involvement of a wide range of national partners including Active Scotland, Transport Scotland, Scottish Forestry, Public Health Scotland and Voluntary Health Scotland. The Chief Medical Officer, Gregor Smith, is co-Chair of the ONHS Programme Board.
GHPs bring together Health Boards, Local Authorities and a range of other local and national delivery partners to work towards priorities for improving public health drawn from Health & Social Care and Community Planning Partnerships. For each GHP the local Health Board is the lead organisation and Chair of the Steering Group, but with a range of different arrangements in place for the employment and hosting of the GHP project officer.
Each of the pilot GHPs aims to highlight nature as a resource for health and wellbeing, and to develop green health services which support people to be more active more often outdoors in their communities.
Their aims include:
- better co-ordination and upscaling of cross-sector working;
- a stronger focus of green exercise activity around local health priorities, including health inequalities;
- the embedding of green exercise activities in local health delivery, including through development of social prescribing approaches, and;
- a shift of investment in existing green exercise activities to areas of greatest need.
The focus of each GHP is different in accordance with local priorities, but in general, their activities centre around awareness raising; maximising the potential and capacity of local green assets; encouraging behaviour change; and social prescribing, through developing and strengthening links and referral pathways between health and social care services and green health providers.
The National Physical Activity Pathway from Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides support for health and social care professionals in discussing physical activity with people who might benefit from being more active, as well as new Physical Activity Referral Standards Physical activity referral standards - Publications - Public Health Scotland.
The Collective For Health and Wellbeing is an Action Plan which lays the foundations for a cross-sectoral approach to building more resilient, healthier communities. It will establish libraries as the go-to place in communities for: trusted health and wellbeing information; digital, information and health literacy skills; facilitated reading for personal growth and therapeutic support; and social interaction and empathic help and support.
‘Health on the Shelf’ examines the current health and wellbeing offer available in Scotland’s public libraries. It aims to equip library services to better demonstrate the valuable role libraries play in helping the public manage their own health. It makes recommendations for the future and includes a comprehensive list of what’s available across Scotland.
Citizens Advice Scotland provide free, independent, confidential, impartial advice, available to everyone.
3.11 Money Advice
Money Advice provide clear, practical advice and support for people experiencing issues with mental health and money.
The Mental Health and Money Toolkit is a resource to help people understand, manage and improve their mental and financial health.
It can be used to help guide conversations with relevant healthcare workers about a person’s mental health and money. It can also be taken to any money or debt advice appointments.
3.12 Befriending Networks
There are befriending projects all over the UK from the Shetland Islands to Cornwall. This directory provides links to member services throughout the country so you can find a service that is local and fits the support needs of others.
The Scottish Men’s Sheds Association’s (SMSA) sole focus is supporting Scotland’s Shedders and their supporters to create Men’s Sheds in their communities across Scotland. The SMSA is not affiliated to other UK Men’s Sheds Associations and works exclusively in Scotland as a registered Scottish Charity.
3.14 Ethnic Minority Resilience Networks
BEMIS Scotland is the national Ethnic Minorities-led umbrella body supporting the development of the Ethnic Minorities Voluntary Sector in Scotland and the communities that this sector represents.
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