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Social prescribing in the community

02 April 2021
Volume 26 · Issue 4

Non-pharmacological approaches to treatment and care have become a common topic of discussion, and social prescribing has been referred to in recent years as ‘new’, ‘innovative’ and ‘novel’. Although it is not new by any means, it has not yet gained the traction it needs to in order to truly make the difference it could for people living with long-term conditions.

As was pointed out by Cowan (2020), Sir Roger Bannister wrote a letter to the Lancet back in 1973 suggesting that, rather than prescribing drugs to reduce lipid levels, ‘we should help to swing our patients over to a more positive view of health so that they change their lifestyle to include sufficient exercise’ (Bannister, 1973).

The peculiar, and perhaps ironic, thing about social prescribing is that it takes a medical approach, giving ‘doctor's orders’, to behaviours that used to form an organic part of our daily leisure. We now need prescriptions to tell us to spend time with people that make us happy, to exercise, to eat nourishing foods, slow down, put our phones away and actively engage in activities that make us feel good. The latter may prove the most difficult and may require us to ask ourselves what those activities are in the first place, as many of us will have simply forgotten or even changed since we last checked.

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