Monitoring and evaluating social prescribing

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Framework for evaluation

All services need to be able to demonstrate their impact and value for money. The self-care resource includes a strategic framework which can be used to help commissioners of social prescribing consider the range of outcome domains and methods of evaluating them, including personal, health and well-being, quality of life and service activity (including return on investment).

For social prescribing specifically, early discussion with local stakeholders can identify what matters to them and how to evaluate whether social prescribing helps. The national Social Prescribing Network surveyed people from general practice, voluntary organisations, patients, commissioners, charities and academics who identified some of the benefits of social prescribing schemes to date. Their findings could provide a useful starting point for local discussions about the types of benefit stakeholders hope to see social prescribing deliver and, from there, identification of how progress will be monitored and impact will be captured.

Benefits of Social Prescribing as identified by stakeholders

Physical & emotional health & wellbeing Cost-effectiveness & sustainability Builds up local community Behaviour Change Capacity to build up the VCS Social determinants of ill-health
  • Improves resilience
  • Self-confidence
  • Self-esteem
  • Improve modifiable lifestyle factors
  • Improve mental health
  • Improve quality of life
  • Prevention
  • Reduction infrequent primary care use
  • Savings across the care pathway
  • Reduced prescribing of medicines
  • Increases awareness of what is available
  • Stronger links between VCS & HCP/Bodies
  • Community resilience
  • Nurture community assets
  • Lifestyle
  • Sustained change
  • Ability to self-care
  • Autonomy
  • Activation
  • Motivation
  • Learning new skills
  • More volunteering
  • Volunteer graduates running schemes
  • Addressing unmet needs of patients
  • Enhance social infrastructure
  • Better employability
  • Reduces isolation
  • Social welfare law advice
  • Reach marginalised groups
  • Increase skills

The Aesop [Aesop (Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose) and PHE evaluation framework] outcomes framework has been developed by academic partners and Public Health England to evaluate and demonstrate the impact of the arts on health and wellbeing. This resource aims to support commissioners, funders, providers and practitioners to plan and develop appropriate evaluation methods for such initiatives.

Measure Yourself Concerns and Wellbeing (MYCAW)[1] has been developed by the University of Bristol Centre for Academic Primary Care and is a self-rated scale using self-defined problems and wellbeing. It has been developed with and used by cancer services.