In October, Care & Repair responded to the Welsh Government consultation on the development of a national framework for social prescribing.

Social prescribing is described as ‘connecting citizens to community support to better manage their health and well-being’.

Through its early preventative approach, social prescribing could help ease the burden on more front-line specialist services. There is variable evidence to suggest that social prescribing reduces the footfall to GP surgeries by 15% to 28%. One review reported an average 28% reduction in demand for GP services following a referral, and the results ranged from 2% to 70% reduction in unnecessary GP visits.

What does this mean for Care & Repair?

For Care & Repair specifically, a vision for Welsh social prescribing must ensure it fully encompasses the whole person in their whole environment. It must seek to address and solve causes of poor health induced by home and living environment.

Medical professions should be able to prescribe initiatives to better housing conditions and the lived environment. This means the opportunity for energy saving measures, home repairs and non-medical wellbeing support to be prescribed and suggested to improve older peoples’ quality of life. It also gives Care & Repair the chance to advocate for the widening of the description to encompass our core services, to increase awareness and usage of our services.

What did Care & Repair recommend?

  • Social prescribing shouldn’t simply be seen as ‘sociable’ prescribing: the opportunity to prescribe all support that is non-medical should be explored, with the services that Care & Repair provide being eligible for subscription and recommendation by a social prescriber.
  • Encourage joint funding bids from multiple organisations: to encourage interdisciplinary working and support, the supporting of bids that are submitted by multiple movements should be encouraged. This is opposed to the current methods, where multiple movements bid competitively for the same pot of funding.
  • The creation of a national standard framework: Care & Repair encourages the creation of a framework of national standards, to protect service users and maintain good safeguarding for both users and providers of social prescribing interventions. This will also ensure that the longevity of services is taken into consideration.
  • Advertisement and promotion: ensuring that advertising and prescribing of social interventions are available in a range of media formats, to ensure that older people are seeing and able to benefit from the service. There was much discussion around the use of technology, and whilst we agree that this is useful, it should not be the only way for these services to be advertised and accessed.
  • Redefine ‘inappropriate referrals’: The wording of ‘inappropriate referrals’ must be explained, and a definition given, to be able to track them more robustly and to be able to identify inappropriate referrals more thoroughly. This will also ensure that the service user gets to the right place as quickly as possible and benefits from the service prescribed to them.

The consultation is currently in its analysis stage, with details of the outcome to be published in due course.

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