• Social prescribing in Bexley: pilot evaluation report

      Palmer, D.; Wheeler, J.; Hendrix, E.; Sango, Precious Nonye; Hatzidimitriadou, Eleni; Mind in Bexley; Canterbury Christ Church University (Mind in Bexley, 2017-01-27)
      Social prescribing is becoming recognised as an important means of harnessing the resources of the voluntary and community sector to improve the health and wellbeing of the public. It provides GPs with a non-medical referral option that can operate alongside existing treatments to improve health and well-being. While there is no widely agreed definition of social prescribing, or ‘community referrals’, reports on social prescribing include an extensive range of prescribed interventions and activities. The paper ‘A Call to Action’ by NHS England highlights social prescribing as a crucial means of empowering the public, enabling greater self-management of health and providing for people’s non-clinical needs in a timely way. The aim being to promote integrated health and social care, partnered with the voluntary and community sector. There is however little in the way of supporting evidence of effect to inform the commissioning of a social prescribing programme. Evidence on the cost effectiveness of social prescribing schemes is also lacking. The aim of this research was to evaluate the benefits and limitations of a social prescribing pilot which took place in the Clocktower locality (London Borough of Bexley) over a 24-month period and this work forms the main body of the study. The evaluation primarily covers individuals who accessed and fully engaged in the first eight months. The pilot which started in April 2015 was hosted by Mind in Bexley and focuses on nine GP practices covering a population of approximately 80,000. The evaluation was thorough and comprehensive incorporating both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Quantative data analysis and draft findings were undertaken by the School of Public Health, Midwifery and Social work at Christchurch University. The quantitative approach included an analysis of the Warwick and Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) in addition to data on the number of primary care and secondary appointments including hospital admission data for those who participated in the scheme. The qualitative aspect of the evaluation involved in-depth interviews with participants. Although measuring the impact of the project on the wellbeing of participants is challenging the use of both qualitative and quantitative analysis was