Many individuals present to their GP’s with health issues that are essentially a social or welfare problem. Social prescribing recognises people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors. GP’s may only have a limited and short term impact with traditional clinical means. Social prescribing, is a way that enables clinical professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services.
Latrobe City has high diagnosis rates of chronic and mental illness. Social prescribing schemes see people as individuals, not a condition or disability and seek to address people’s needs in a holistic way, aiming to support individuals to improve their situation to take greater control and self-manage their own health, particularly those with complex needs.
A social prescriber, or link worker is a non-clinically trained professional, that may be situated in a GP clinic or other community setting and has an extensive wide range knowledge of local groups, clubs, non-clinical organisations and services (e.g. physical activity classes, cultural activities, counselling services, financial planning, or housing and welfare services).
The link worker would then have a face to face consultation with the person, in which they would discuss their individual needs and would support and motivate the individual to achieve their health goals. In areas where a social prescribing scheme has been piloted or implemented, a reduction in the number of GP and accident and emergency services has been observed after referral to a link worker.