Social Prescribing – what it means for older people in East Kent

You might ask yourself what is “social prescribing” which is being advocated and seen as the way ahead by the NHS and promoted in local GP surgeries in Canterbury, Whitstable, Faversham, Sandwich and Ash.

Social Prescribing Co-ordinators based in GP surgeries can refer older patients to improve their health and wellbeing by a referral to a non-clinical activity such as a walking club, coffee group, or other community activity will help build up resilience, promote self-care and encourage social inclusion. This can have an overall positive impact on health.

However, there is very little evidence given the complex factors of isolation and loneliness to support that social prescribing will have any real impact on health.

Older people are faced with more challenging issues such as declining health, transport issues as well as co-morbid health conditions such as heart disease, risk of stroke, cancer, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. These complex needs will need a proactive approach where people can have access to high quality local care in their own community and joined up access to social care. The projected growth of population in Kent for year 2020 is expected to rise in ages 65-84 by 9.6% and in the over aged 85 year olds by 13%, and will require the local NHS to provide sustainable solutions to meet the growing demands.

We need to encourage and include all older populations to get involved and become champions in their communities to voice concerns about withdrawal of services such as stroke services and acute clinical services at Kent & Canterbury Hospital, and mobilize to build a stronger and more comprehensive approach to maintaining health and wellbeing.

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