Focussing on what I CAN do
Social prescribing, sometimes referred to as community referral, is a means of enabling GPs and nurses to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health. Something so simple that changed my life. This simple act? A referral to an exercise session at my local GP’s surgery.
The life of an older woman on medication for diabetes, high blood pressure and depression with osteoarthritis in my hip thrown in for good measure. It also took the skills and understanding of the health professionals carrying out my medical reviews to have patience when I was not mentally ready for change but to collaborate with me when I was.
What I can do
This was about gentle encouragement focusing on what I could do. Another patient took me under their wing and I had a laugh. This positive experience including good company, led to another session the following week and on to regular attendance. Then we graduated to an hour’s afternoon circuit session once a week at Heeley Gym in Sheffield facilitated by our very able Health Referral Specialist. Again it’s about what you can do and good company.
When I felt ready, the Health Referral Specialist arranged a further one to one session for me in the week. This was specially designed for my physical needs but also helped me overcome low motivation by having an appointment to go to. This support also saw me through my hip replacement surgery and recovery.
I have made friends at the gym and especially with another lady in the weekly class who has become a close friend. I do admit we go for tea and cake afterwards but don’t tell my GP! It’s great for us to share the good times and the bad, and on occasion put the world to rights.
How has it helped?
Life is not always a bed of roses but my sugar levels have come down, my high blood pressure is controlled and my mood is much better. My mobility has come on by ‘leaps and bounds’ too.
Yes, social prescribing has certainly improved my quality of life and ability to cope. It just shows how well my local community can help us build a caring, resilient and healthy place to live.
Have you ever used social prescribing? Or is there something in your community that helps you feel better about yourself? A club, an exercise class or a group that brings people together? Tell us about your experiences, we'd love to hear them and it could help someone else to have the confidence to look into their own community.