Piloting a model of social prescribing for young people
Barts Charity, the UK’s fifth largest research and healthcare funder, has awarded a £50,000 grant towards developing a model of social prescribing for children and young people to be delivered by Barts Health NHS Trust.
Social prescribing need for young people

Social prescribing is an approach employed by NHS England used to help patients improve their health, wellbeing and social welfare by connecting them to community services. For example, fitness classes, social events and translation services, which might be run by the council or a local charity.

Although social prescribing for adults has become widespread during the last ten years, the ability to offer similar support to children and young people (CYP) has only begun to be embedded during the last 12 months. These services for CYP are based out of GP practices or from local authorities, meaning there currently is a gap whereby young people who are already under the care of doctors based in a hospital, for example, those with serious long-term conditions, are unable to access social prescribing services.

This gap in provision needs to be addressed at a time when young people require help the most. Even outside of the COVID-19 pandemic, these individuals are already at risk of experiencing mental health problems.

Recent research indicates that the pandemic has resulted in a mental health crisis, with a third of young Londoners (34.4%) reporting wellbeing scores indicating depression, and a majority (75.5%) indicating poor wellbeing (Partnership for Young London ‘Mapping Young London’).

A young person Barts Health NHS Patient in hospital
The service will aim to increase young people’s connection with others and their local services, empowering them to take control of their own health and wellbeing

Kath Evans RGN RSCN

Director of Children's Services at Barts Health NHS Trust
The social prescribing model explained

In this year-long pilot project, an experienced youth worker will be recruited to act as a social prescriber for CYP with long-term or medically unexplained conditions who are currently being treated at the Royal London Hospital.

The social prescriber will work to develop a model of care which goes beyond the standard series of medical tests, assessment and treatment that the patient normally receives, and serves the needs of these young people holistically. The impact the social prescriber has on patient wellbeing and clinical outcomes will be rigorously evaluated.

Kath Evans RGN RSCN, Director of Children’s Services at Barts Health NHS Trust, said:

“We are delighted that Barts Charity have supported our goal to develop this new model of social prescribing service. It will help to strengthen clinical outcomes, particularly for young people with long-term health conditions through enhancing personal and community resilience. It will also reduce health inequalities by addressing the wider non-medical factors influencing health, such as loneliness, emotional distress, debt, poor housing and physical inactivity.

“The integrated service will provide holistic support, connecting young people to local initiatives and community based services for practical and emotional support. The service will aim to increase young people’s connection with others and their local services, empowering them to take control of their own health and wellbeing.”

The pilot hopes to establish a model of social prescribing for young people in a secondary care setting that could be replicated across the UK.

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