Social prescribing, sometimes referred to as community referral, is a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other health and care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services. Their health is affected by a wide range of social, economic and environmental factors including employment, housing, debt, social isolation and culture. These factors do not respond to traditional health interventions.
Social prescribing seeks to address these needs through a variety of activities which are typically provided by voluntary and community sector organisations. Examples include volunteering, arts activities, group learning, gardening, befriending, cookery, healthy eating advice, walking, singing and a range of sports. It is particularly useful for people who need more support with their mental health, have one or more long-term conditions, are lonely or isolated, or have complex social needs that affect their wellbeing.
There is a growing body of evidence that social prescribing can lead to a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes. Studies have shown improvements to an individual’s quality of life and emotional wellbeing, mental and general wellbeing and levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness. This has resulted in the reduced use of traditional NHS services such as A&E attendances, outpatient appointments, inpatients admissions or seeking a GP consultation.
Find study data responding to the question Does social prescribing work? on The Kings Fund website.
Social Prescribing in action
Together with Music pilot
Elderly residents from Keswick Care Home and children aged 10 and 11 from Eastwick School in Bookham are bridging the gap between generations, using music making to inspire confidence and tackle loneliness, anxiety and isolation.
The innovative Together with Music pilot, is the result of a collaboration between Mole Valley District Council (MVDC), Surrey Downs Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) and Intergenerational Music Making (IMM). The 6-week pilot follows a time of isolation and has supported those living with dementia and challenging circumstances to create a stronger, healthier, intergenerational local community.
Each session has been creatively unique, encouraging development and exploration within the music making. This project includes a variety of pre-composed and improvised music making, interactive musical and sensory activities, song-writing, choral singing and musical performances from both the young and old. The sessions, facilitated by senior music therapist Marion Barton, conclude with talking time which gives the young and old an opportunity to establish relationships, share stories and discuss the week ahead.
The aim of this ground-breaking project is to work towards a national best practice model that can be rolled out across the country.
Lilian, 97 year old resident, Keswick Care Home said “It’s been wonderful. We’ve been doing all sorts, they’ve been making us laugh and that’s a good thing. They’re lovely children and we’re so pleased that they come and entertain us because that’s what we need, it makes a lot of difference to us.”
Watch this heart-warming film to discover more about this project
Evaluation of the Together with Music pilot carried out by Intergenerational Music Making
Intergenerational activities are social engagements and interactions that bring together the older and younger generations for a common purpose. They build on the strengths that different generations have to offer, nurture understanding and mutual respect whilst challenging ageism.
This evaluation report summarises the delivery of the 6-week pilot project, working with Keswick Care Home and Eastwick School in Bookham. The Together with Music pilot focussed on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of both the young and old through intergenerational music therapy practice. The project aimed to showcase the benefits of intergenerational music therapy practice and successful partnership working across the sectors, demonstrating all bodies striving to create positive change and support both individual and collective wellbeing through music.
We adopted pre and post questionnaires, thematic analysis of clinical notes, written feedback from professionals and video analysis to further understand the benefits of this project for both generations. Data suggested that the interactions between the generations, supportive behaviours and human connection were key to the participants experience. Themes such as self-agency and self-awareness suggested an increase in confidence, sense of purpose and fulfilment as a result of the group. It emerged from the data that there was an overwhelming positive effect on the mood of all the participants.