Examples of social prescribing interventions and activities

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Here are some examples of social prescribing interventions and activities

  • Physical activity/ exercise – including gym based activity, team sports, dance class, yoga, T’ai chi. Goodgym[1] is an example of an interesting service in which volunteers run to people’s homes to provide them with help and support and reduce isolation.
  • Opportunities for arts – including: arts and performance[2] [3], libraries, museums, heritage and cultural tourism[4].
  • Food clubs, dementia cafes[5] - valuable opportunities for social interaction, and for people to contribute. They can also be a source of good quality food. The casserole club[6] encourages members to cook for others.
  • Green activity – participants become both physically and mentally healthier through contact with nature[7]. This can include gardening and horticulture; growing food; walking in parks or the countryside; conservation activities and green gyms.
  • Volunteering - good evidence of the benefits of volunteering for health (Lee Y & Brudney J.L. 2008)[8].
  • Peer support, whereby people who have experienced the same condition support each other has a good evidence base for increasing confidence wellbeing and social connectedness (People Powered Health 2013)[9].
  • Learning /education can also be provided via prescription. There are clear health benefits of education (Feinstein L. et al 2006)[10].
  • Time banks are “virtual banks” where people can deposit time they spend helping others and withdraw that time when they need help themselves. Everyone’s time is of equal value and transactions are facilitated and recorded by a time broker[11]. The time bank is essentially a mutual volunteering scheme, using time as currency; some studies have shown that time banking is more successful at reaching those on low incomes/areas of deprivation than traditional volunteering (Boyle D, Clarke S and Burns S (2006)[12]. Spice [13] have evolved this into a paper currency based on units of time which can be “spent” with a range of organisations (including leisure and cultural venues), giving more flexibility to people on how they might exchange their time credit.