IEG4 Insights

Championing Local Well-Being: How we can create a blueprint for Social Prescribing

Posted by Matt Culpin on Apr 16, 2024 12:13:12 PM
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"In 2019 Social Prescribing was included in the NHS Long Term Plan...By integrating technology into social prescribing initiatives, organisations can enhance accessibility, improve communication and provide more efficient support to individuals seeking to improve their overall wellbeing..." discusses Matt Culpin, IEG4's Product Director

The rise of people affected by chronic health conditions in the UK has become an unavoidable problem, one that is only increasing with the lack of resource within the NHS.

But with an understanding that a person’s overall health is linked to a range of factors, there could be a new approach on the horizon. These can be physical factors – like exercise and diet – but they also extend to the social and environmental elements of our lives.

The loneliness epidemic in the UK, has led to concerns around its widespread health impact on the public. Research from the Campaign to End Loneliness states that loneliness can increase the risk of early mortality by 26%, associated with elevated blood pressure and acute stress responses, as well as putting people at a heightened risk of poorer mental health.

In 2019, social prescribing was included in the NHS Long Term Plan. Established as a method of holistic care, social prescribing involves connecting individuals with non-medical activities and support in the community to improve their overall wellbeing through activities like community volunteering, access to special interest groups, and gentle exercise classes.

Social prescribing is entirely flexible, and the activities prescribed are tailored to the individual's needs, preferences, and health goals – to promote physical, mental, and social wellbeing. It benefits people affected by mild or long-term mental health problems, people with complex needs, people who are socially isolated and those with multiple long-term conditions who frequently attend either primary or secondary health care for support.


Future-proofing our health and wellbeing

Evidence is growing that social prescribing could be the key to improving chronic mental and physical health symptoms by improving quality of life, fostering a sense of purpose and connection with the local community, and encouraging a healthier lifestyle.

Pilot programmes are also showing promising results for NHS Trusts. A programme in Shropshire, evaluated between 2017 and 2019, found that people reported statistically significant improvements in measures of wellbeing, patient activation and loneliness. At three-month follow ups, it also found that GP consultations among participants were down 40 per cent compared to a control group.

The care cost cap, introduced by the Government, means that no one in England will need to spend more than £86,000 on their personal care over their lifetime. The cap is set to be introduced in October 2025, and it is anticipated to bring substantial change across the sector. It is expected as a result, that social prescribing will become more widely adopted by health and social care settings. It is important that local authorities, service providers and citizens have the tools in place to assist with managing citizen health and wellbeing.


Redefining how we manage our health

Digital solutions can play a significant role in supporting and enhancing social prescribing initiatives by facilitating communication, coordination, and access to resources. An end-to-end digital holistic health management solution can provide a streamlined process to carry out assessments for citizens, explore individual needs and match up services accurately to these.

Social workers, healthcare professionals and local authorities can work with the person or patient by asking a set of defined questions that capture their wellbeing. The output can be gathered over time to create a history of their situation and what has worked for them. This isn’t only just helpful for the professional, but also for the person receiving treatment to understand an increase in their wellbeing over time.

The data generated from answering these questions can then be escalated to further assessment, such as an assessment on quality of life. For example, an individual may state that they need help with managing their money or feeling safe on their own. By integrating a directory of care providers, citizens can be matched to specific services. In this instance, this could be advice or community groups.

By utilising technology, rules can be created so that a certain next step is triggered based on those individual answers. Having these systems in place streamlines decisions and ensures the process is thorough and straightforward.

Additionally, the shift to holistic health management may bring better integration between health, social and community services. At IEG4, we have developed a solution in collaboration with council input, defining a blueprint built on the idea of social prescribing.

We also involved the third sector, volunteers and social care professionals to create a fresh and effective tool to help professionals within health and social care, as well as within local authorities, to assess citizens and patients with a holistic focus. By considering the wide network of expertise in the community, we are moving towards an all-encompassing support system that centres around the power of social prescribing and its interaction with health and social care.


Getting everyone on the same page

By integrating technology into social prescribing initiatives, organisations can enhance accessibility, improve communication, and provide more personalised and efficient support to individuals seeking to improve their overall wellbeing. It's important to ensure that these technological solutions are user-friendly, inclusive, and aligned with the diverse needs of the target population.

Where Integrated Care Systems are coming online, there is more joined-up thinking. The pot of money for care in the UK, along with the care cap, will encourage further collaboration. People will have more choice in how they spend their money, and where local authorities can support funding.

Harnessing this connection between citizen, healthcare professionals and service providers allows for meaningful conversations to be had around the future of social prescribing. It creates shared goals around prevention, rather than cure.

The assessment process is also a great opportunity for citizens to get involved with choices around their health and wellbeing and foster a sense of autonomy over their own care.

Self-service within the public sector has been an increasingly popular choice for many local authorities who want to reduce call centre pressures and bring flexibility for citizens wanting more choice in when and how they communicate with them. In fact, 97% of local authorities are planning to introduce online self-service for adult social care.



Every touchpoint of social prescribing from in-person advice from your GP to accessing services through an online portal or your local council, must be designed with the person in mind, to encourage them to engage with the treatment.

By boosting participation, we can switch to a model of early intervention and preventative care, which data patterns identified by digital tools used for social prescribing can encourage.

It’s this model that could really make an impact in reducing pressure in primary and acute care, but it can also help us to build something bigger within local regions - enhanced community resilience, and positive social and economic outcomes.

Topics: Health & Social care, citizenaccess, Social Prescribing

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