Framework on social prescribing launched for AHPs

Royal College of OTs encourages all occupational therapists to get involved in social prescribing

Published on 18th July 2019

A framework to support Allied Health Professionals to increase their social prescribing has been launched by the Royal Society for Public Health, Public Health England and NHS Improvement.

The framework, which also creates a vision of social prescribing for AHPs, was produced after research found that nearly half (44%) of AHPs felt that their knowledge of social prescribing ‘required improvement’. It aims to fill these gaps, and has been produced based on extensive consultation with AHPs and their professional bodies.

Linda Hindle, PHE Lead Allied Health Professional, said: “Social prescribing is fundamental to supporting people to manage their own health and wellbeing. This framework highlights how AHPs contribute across the spectrum of the social prescribing offer, helping people access the right services to meet their needs. We hope the framework will support AHPs, primary care networks and link workers to recognise what AHPs already contribute and where they could do more.”

The practical information outlined in the framework includes:

- The spectrum of social prescribing, based on less time intensive ‘active signposting’, to ‘referring to a link worker’ and, at its most time intensive, ‘AHPs as social prescriber’.

- The role of AHPs as providers of services and groups that other professionals can socially prescribe people to.

- How to assess whether social prescribing might be useful for the person you are working with.

- Suggestions for finding out more about what services and groups are available locally.

- How AHPs can promote and develop social prescribing in their local areas; and

- The ability of social prescribing to support people of all ages with diverse needs.

The framework includes a wide range of case studies from different AHPs working in a variety of settings which highlight work already being done by many AHPs to engage people with social prescribing and should encourage all AHPs of the value of social prescribing in their work.

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH added: “Social prescribing is an important tool for addressing the social determinants of health and reducing health inequalities. AHPs have an important role to play in ensuring that everyone has access to social prescribing and this framework will help create a common vision of social prescribing among AHPs going forward.”

Julia Scott, CEO, Royal College of Occupational Therapists said: “The Royal College welcomes the new social prescribing framework. The topic of social prescribing and the unique contribution occupational therapy can make, has been key to much of our work over the past few years. We are among several professional bodies advising the government and NHS England on the development of a social prescribing academy.

“The new framework marks a cultural shift in the way health and care is thought of and delivered in England and fits the wider agenda across all four nations around a need to bring a more personalised approach to health and social care.

“For occupational therapists, personalised care is about focusing on people’s strengths and enabling individuals to carry out the activities they want and need to do in their lives. It is intrinsic to the profession, and always has been. They have a unique contribution to make to social prescribing, one that that utilises their skills effectively.

“We believe that occupational therapists are essential in ensuring vulnerable people with complex needs are able to take advantage of social prescribing and strongly urge all RCOT members to get involved," she concluded.


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