Did you know that social prescribing is a way of connecting patients in primary care with local non-medical support to help improve people’s health and well-being? The idea of social prescribing is not new; however, the process is receiving a great deal of interest, particularly in the United Kingdom (UK), and recently has come to Elgin County. The goal is to provide health care providers with non-medical resources in addition to common clinical practice approaches.

Some exciting news for our community! There is a new research project regarding social prescribing in West Lorne at the West Elgin Community Health Center (WECHC).  

Photo by J.A. Conrad

Stephanie Skelding (RN BScN), who is a Health Promoter/Systems Navigator at the WECHC, is the social prescribing pilot project lead. On Wednesday September 26th, Stephanie hosted a social prescribing information and training session at WECHC with the organization’s staff. Additional experts related to social prescribing were also on site: Dr. Marie Anne Essam (MB, BS, MRCGP MBA General Practitioner, UK) and Tim Anfilogoff (Head of Community Resilience, National Health Service, Herts Valley, UK). 

Photo by J.A. Conrad

 Dr. Essam and Mr. Afilogoff came from the UK to share their expertise and present research findings regarding social prescribing which include:

  • Increased self-esteem and confidence
  • An improved sense of control and empowerment
  • Improved mental well-being that coincides with reduced levels of anxiety and depression symptoms
  • To read more about these and other positive outcomes read Thomson et al., (2015) Social Prescribing: A review of community referral schemes.
Photo by J.A. Conrad

“Social prescribing is the glue that connects primary health care, health promotion and prevention, and community development,” said Dr. Kate Mulligan, Director of Policy and Communications at the Alliance for Healthier Communities, which represents more than 100 community-governed primary care organizations across Ontario, including the WECHC pilot research site. “It (social prescribing) helps doctors, nurse practitioners and other clinicians address the social needs of their clients, partly by encouraging them to share their own gifts with others as volunteers in community health centres. We look forward to learning all we can from our U.K. colleagues as we adapt social prescribing to our local needs here in Ontario.”

Photo by J.A. Conrad

SNJ Associates works throughout the St. Thomas-Elgin area, helping to create vibrant, healthy communities and will continue to follow and share this research and results – how the initiatives surrounding social prescribing may improve health and well-being outcomes for our region.