Charity urges physiotherapists to embrace social prescribing to help their patients blossom
Physiotherapists have been urged to discover more about the benefits of social prescribing in a special message from a charity that promotes recovery among people with mental health and physical issues.
Speaking exclusively to PhysioUpdate, James Sanderson, the chief executive of the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP), said: ‘As a physio you know that activity matters. And what exercise looks like differs for every person.'
NASP and the Thriving Communities Fund support 37 projects in a bid to widen opportunities for people to take part in a range of activities, including physical activities and sport, in their local communities. It points out that Sport England found that during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic the number of people in England classified as being 'active' fell by three million – or seven per cent of the population.
A 'different' approach
Social prescribing enables physios and other allied health professionals to utilise the partnerships that are being developed across healthcare and delivering services in a different way [James Sanderson, NASP]
Mr Sanderson explained: ‘Social prescribing enables physios and other allied health professionals to utilise the partnerships that are being developed across healthcare and delivering services in a different way.
‘By referring patients to social prescribing link workers, you’re enabling them to take control of their own recovery and live a healthier life.’
As part of a ‘green’ social prescribing project in Plymouth, Devon, Argyle Community Trust delivers weekly activities that enable people to become more physically active and enjoy the ‘great outdoors’.
Examples include a ‘walk & talk’ group for older adults who are at risk of isolation, beginners’ bowls sessions and a ‘couch to 5k’ programme – which, over nine weeks, aims to help people run five kilometres.
Ben Kerswell, the trust’s health and wellbeing manager, said: ‘Physical activity is vital part of our programme and is being used as a way of getting people back out into the community after lockdown.
‘As well as the obvious health benefits – such as losing weight – it has been found that physical activity also has a positive impact on participants’ mental health, reducing social isolation and improving their overall wellbeing.
Nature in Northampton
In Delapre Park in Northampton they are creating a Green Happy Café that will use nature and the outdoors to support physical and mental health.
David Smart, clinical director of the General Practice Alliance Federation and a GP with 30 years’ experience, said: ‘Exercise taken regularly is one of the best prescriptions any clinician could prescribe.'
He added: 'It can help to prevent illness including cancer and dementia as well as treating issues such as common mood disorder. Personally, it’s one of the best things I have found to help with managing my mood.’
To find out more about the 37 projects being supported by the NASP’s Thriving Communities Fund, visit: https://socialprescribingacademy.org.uk/thriving-communities
Author: Ian A McMillan