A new kind of prescription to tackle loneliness in the U.K

Senior man using mobile phone

A new healthcare strategy, announced by Prime Minister Theresa May, gives GPs in England permission to prescribe social activities such as cooking classes and dance lessons to combat loneliness in the country. As of late, statistics show that over 200 000 senior citizens have not had a conversation with a relative or friend in over a month. GPs have also reported that of the people they see, one in five of them are suffering from loneliness.

Connecting people with peer support groups and hobby classes in their community seem like the ideal solution to end loneliness. And we hope that in a few months, this type of GP’s prescription will not seem as unconventional to the public. We’ve seen significant success with patient outcomes at GP practices who are already offering social prescriptions to complement their services.

HealthUnlocked Discover, our digital social prescription tool, has been rolled out to a few practices across North East London as part of a partnership with Innovation Test Bed, Care City, and can be embedded directly into the GP system, EMIS web. So when patients visit their GPs, they can now get beyond the pill prescriptions; connecting patients to local services, online reading material and community support related to their conditions.

Dr. Amit Sharma, a GP at Tulasi Medical Centre, the first practice to go live with the tool, said: “We know that access to more information and support can change how you manage your health and your health outcomes. The concept of social prescription is not a new one, but having the ability to provide it quickly and easily during a consultation, and know the information is reliable, suitable and helpful is new. This will make a difference to a lot of our patients, whether they have cancer, diabetes, or would benefit from losing weight.”

There are big plans in the pipeline for social prescriptions as part of a long-term plan to change the way we deliver healthcare to the people of the U.K. The government has announced that funding would be provided for community projects such as art spaces, cafes and hobby centers across the country.

“This strategy is only the beginning of delivering a long and far-reaching social change in our country – but it is a vital first step in a national mission to end loneliness in our lifetimes.” Theresa May.

*Source: BBC News

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