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Social Prescription explained.

The Snap-Shot Answers 

What is it?
Improve or maintain health through non-healthcare, local and usually pretty fun activities!
Who is it for? 
People who want to know what local community activities are suitable for them to engage in to optimise their health and well being
People who may need short-term additional support to make the first steps to make changes in their activities and social engagement. 
What is the aim? 
Optimising health, combating loneliness and anxiety, reducing dependency on GP and health services for positive health outcomes, overall reduction in health care bills. 
Who prescribes? 
Your local Social Prescribers can be medical professionals including doctors, social workers, occupational therapists or trained therapy technicians. 
Where can I find a prescriber? 
Ask your local care professional or simply ask us at askforot@lifeweavers.org.

The Detailed Explanation

What is Social Prescription?

When medical personnel refer a client for non medical services in their local community to promote and maintain their health and wellbeing. The activity or social engagement selected may be chosen to target something in particular, for example, chronic condition management, improving social skills or just to stay young.

Where Did The Idea Originate?

Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health.

If we attend to our health needs through our normal routines ( physical, mental and social needs) we are less likely to need support from the health sector. It is not always easy to identify where we have imbalance and how to promote that balance, so social prescribing helps support the client in this. 

How Is It Cost Effective?

Evidence is currently in its infancy but it has been shown to reduce health care visits and associated costs. The benefits which are difficult to quantify financially are related to preventative health care by improving quality of life, emotional wellbeing and opportunities to learn and volunteer. 

How Does It Work?

First, the client is assessed and supported to develop a simple well being plan, they are given advice on what activities would be appropriate for them to regularly engage in to optimise health through physical and / or social engagement. Potential activities will be explored with the client based on their motivations and interests. Depending on the clients abilities, support will be given to get them to the point that they can attend the chosen activity independently or with minimised support. The aim is for them to be able to increase confidence and independence to engage long term or until there’s a change in function.  

How is it relevant to Singapore?

It’s not uncommon to hear that people don’t have time to do anything other than work and attend family duties or for seniors to say they do nothing because there’s nothing to do. Lack of engagement in activities that promote balanced health, be it physical, mental or social can lead to health issues as a result of imbalance. This can contribute to problems with posture, frailty and stress management to name a few.

Looking at what activities can help plug your health gaps is the key to prevention without the creation of dependency on the healthcare system.

 

Who Is It For?

Persons…

– with one or more long-term conditions

– who need support with their mental health in the community

– who are lonely or isolated

– who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing

– who are interested in active aging

 

Where Can We Get More Information On Social Prescribing in Singapore?

There’s currently limited information on social prescribing in Singapore, we at Lifeweavers are working to change that. Occupational therapy is uniquely positioned as the only profession with specialized understanding of the impact of participation and engagement in activities on health and well-being, so asking an occupational therapist is the ideal place to start. 

Social Prescription and Occupational Therapy

With a holistic assessment, an occupational therapist or therapy technician will be able to guide you in understanding which community activities will enhance your health and wellbeing. If needed the OT/technician can also support you in tackling any barriers which may be blocking your engagement to your chosen activity.

Social prescribing services could be the step you need to make lasting change to your health and wellbeing, so do not hesitate to get in touch.

Suggested Read: Guide To Occupational Deprivation

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