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Introduction to 8 Use social prescribing

Up to 8.Use social prescribing
June 15. 2016
Robert Varnam

What is this?

This is about using referral and signposting to non-medical services in the community which increase wellbeing and independence. Examples include leisure and social community activities, befriending, carer respite, dementia support, housing, debt management and benefits advice, one to one specialist advocacy and support, employment support and sensory impairment services.

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Social prescribing is growing very rapidly, in response to a recognition that the GP is not always the most appropriate person to meet patients' needs, particularly where someone has social needs. 

Benefits for patients

  • Improved quality of life. 
  • Improved ability to live an independent life.

Benefits for practice

  • Frees up GP time
  • Allows clinicians to do the things that only they can do. 


8.1 Practice based navigators

Volunteers or staff members are attached to a GP practice, to provide a source of expertise about local voluntary and community sector services. They will often meet directly with patients and carers, identifying needs and opportunities, and supporting them to engage with services.

8.2 External service

Practices have access to a service run by another organisation, such as a council of voluntary sector agencies, who can signpost patients and carers to sources of support in the local community. They will take referrals from the practice, and will usually also provide support directly to local residents without referral.

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