Social prescribing is an approach that works to connect people more within their local communities, whether that’s by joining different activities and groups or making better use of available services, with the aim being to meet their emotional, social and practical needs and improve overall health and wellbeing.
And it’s now been suggested that social prescribing could help autistic people and those with learning disabilities in particular, with a new report from the Valuing People Alliance finding that this way of working could potentially reduce health inequalities and build social capital.
According to Learning Disability Today, the study found that there are many benefits associated with social prescribing for both staff members and those using the service, including allowing people to feel heard by basing activities on personal interests.
Those with learning disabilities were found to benefit and thrive when consistently connected with the most appropriate activities and groups, all of which can also build confidence and improve mental wellbeing.
Furthermore, some projects are able to connect social prescribing with annual health checks, while there are also lots of opportunities for travel training and helping people learn how to use public transport, thus building more confidence and fostering a sense of independence.
Guidance has now been developed by the Valuing People Alliance, advising link workers to work flexibly within their boundaries, engage with families, spend time with community groups and use strengths-based approaches when working with autistic people and those with learning disabilities.
Service users are also advised to engage with link workers and let them know what activities they’d be most interested in, as well as requesting that activities be kept local and seek out support to attend new activities wherever possible.
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