SPRING – Social Prescribing

SPRING Social Prescribing was officially launched in Rutherglen Town Hall on 11th March.  SPRING is the largest cross-national social prescribing initiative of its kind. It involves 30 well established community led health and wellbeing improvement organisations across Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is initially funded for 3 years with a possible 2 year extension by the Big Lottery Community Fund and is being coordinated through Scottish Communities for Health and Wellbeing and the Northern Ireland Healthy Living Centre Alliance.  SPRING aims to have a very positive impact on individuals, communities, primary health care and national governments. Over 8,000 people will co-create at least one social prescription and 96,000 interventions will improve health and wellbeing and overall quality of life for thousands of individuals.

Social prescribing is a community led approach to health improvement and is concerned with supporting communities experiencing disadvantage and poor health outcomes to identify and define what is important to them about their health and wellbeing: the factors that impact on their wellbeing and take a lead in identifying and implementing solutions. It is an approach which is based on a holistic or social model of health that recognises the many and complex social factors that affect people’s health.

It is important to think of social prescribing as more than simply a process of referral or as a method of signposting individuals to community provision. A critical aspect of social prescribing is the co-produced individual and unique health pathway arrived at by the referred individual with support from an individual (known as a social prescriber) or team located in a well established local community organisation. Social prescribing at its best is not a signposting exercise or indeed a referral direct to a community service/activity etc.  It involves building relationships, taking a holistic approach and engaging individuals at the heart of the process.

The following diagrams illustrate the key partners in SPRING Social Prescribing and how an individual “Oliver” involved in SPRING would progress to positive health and wellbeing outcomes.  These diagrams were produced by Elemental Software who are  providing an excellent software platform for SPRING to enable the progress of an individual on their health pathway to be recorded and regularly reviewed with the individual.

SPRING Social Prescribing is an exciting and dynamic addition to strategies to improve health and wellbeing across Scotland. It is hoped that the evidence and impact of SPRING will lead to social prescribing becoming an integral approach to health improvement throughout Scotland