#OTalk Tuesday 8th Feb 2022 – Social Prescribing – past, present and future with @smileyfacehalo

This week Sam Pywell (@smileyfacehalo), Coordinator: Social Prescribing Unit @UCLan (@UCLanSocPres) lead us in a discussion about social prescribing, here is what she had to say.

Hi everyone and welcome to this weeks #OTalk on Social Prescribing: past, present and future – my name is Sam Pywell and I’m an Occupational Therapy lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, U.K. Recently I have taken the role of Coordinating our Social Prescribing Unit at UCLan and have been reflecting on how we as occupational therapists continue to support and get involved with the Social Prescribing arena. Please follow our unit on @UCLanSocPres, and I hope you enjoy this #OTalk!!!!!

Occupational therapists can manage, deliver, create, influence, research, teach, support and contribute to social prescribing as part of the NHS Personalised Care agenda (NHS, 2019; NHS, 2022; RCOT, 2022; RSPH, 2019a; RSPH, 2019b). Social prescribing is defined by The Kings Fund as (2019) “…a means of enabling health professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services”. Occupational therapists can “…‘active signposting’, ‘refer to a link worker’, ‘promote, grow and develop social prescribing” (RSPH, 2019a) and be a social prescriber themselves (RSPH, 2019b). With the wide variety of social prescribing models (Polley et al., 2017; Morris et al., 2020) and people who can be involved (from link workers, community connectors, commissioners, health and social care professionals, private providers, voluntary and community sector) it is no wonder social prescribing remains a challenge to understand in its entirety (Khan, 2021).

For occupational therapists to contribute to this important agenda to address inequalities (potentially though “proportionate universalism” (NHS Scotland, 2014)) we need to respect and collaborate with the social prescribing arena, learn and actively contribute for the benefit of communities and individuals, but how do we do this? Placements, innovation and increasing the evidence base are examples of engaging the future workforce with the challenge of addressing inequalities and inequities which impact an individual’s overall wellbeing. However, the approach we all take to inequities and inequalities impacts the work we do. As Professor Michael Marmot highlighted, “Proportionate universalism” (NHS Scotland briefing, 2014) can be defined as “the resourcing and delivering of universal services at a scale and intensity proportionate to the degree of need”. How do we do this? How do we work together in the arena of social prescribing to address individual’s needs?

This #OTalk is following in the footsteps of work done by colleagues at @SalfordSocPres hub, the #OTalk in march last year by @adamjacksonot, and colleagues within the very large social prescribing arena.

How could (and have) occupational therapists contribute to the social prescribing arena?
Where could occupational therapists go on placement re: social prescribing?
What is “proportionate universalism” in our practice? How does this fit with occupational therapy, social prescribing and our future practice?
Where do we go from here?


Jackson, A (2021) #OTalk 14th April – Social Prescribing and the future of Occupational Therapy. https://otalk.co.uk/2020/04/07/otalk-14th-april-social-prescribing-and-the-future-of-occupational-therapy/

Khan, K., Ward, F., Halliday, E., Holt, V. (2021) Public perspectives of social prescribing, Journal of Public Health, fdab067, https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdab067

The Kings Fund (2019) What is Social Prescribing? https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/social-prescribing

NHS Scotland (2014) Proportionate Universalism briefing. http://www.healthscotland.com/uploads/documents/24296-ProportionateUniversalismBriefing.pdf

NHS (2019) Personalised Care agenda https://www.england.nhs.uk/personalisedcare/

NHS (2019) Long Term plan https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/publication/nhs-long-term-plan/

NHS (2022) Social Prescribing https://www.england.nhs.uk/personalisedcare/social-prescribing/

Martin, C (2020) The Social Prescriber role through Covid-19 https://www.theothub.com/article/a-reflective-account-of-the-social-prescriber-role-through-covid-19

Morris, D., Thomas, P., Ridley, J. et al. (2020) Community-Enhanced Social Prescribing: Integrating Community in Policy and Practice. Int. Journal of Com. WB https://doi.org/10.1007/s42413-020-00080-9
RCOT (2019) RCOT role in Social Prescribing https://www.rcot.co.uk/news/occupational-therapy-role-social-prescribing

Polley, M. et al. (2017) Making Sense of Social Prescribing. Westminster Research https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/download/f3cf4b949511304f762bdec137844251031072697ae511a462eac9150d6ba8e0/1340196/Making-sense-of-social-prescribing%202017.pdf

RSPH (2019a) Launch of new social prescribing framework for allied health professionals https://www.rsph.org.uk/about-us/news/launch-of-new-social-prescribing-framework-for-allied-health-professionals.html

RSPH (2019b) AHP as prescriber https://www.rsph.org.uk/our-work/resources/ahp-social-prescribing-frameworks/social-prescribing-ahp-as-prescriber.html


Host:  Sam Pywell (@smileyfacehalo)

Support on OTalk Account: @otrach

Evidence your CPD. If you joined in this chat you can download the below transcript as evidence for your CPD, but remember the HCPC are interested in what you have learnt.  So why not complete one of our reflection logs to evidence your learning?

HCPC Standards for CPD.

  • Maintain a continuous, up-to-date and accurate record of their CPD activities.
  • Demonstrate that their CPD activities are a mixture of learning activities relevant to current or future practice.
  • Seek to ensure that their CPD has contributed to the quality of their practice and service delivery.
  • Seek to ensure that their CPD benefits the service user.
  • Upon request, present a written profile (which must be their own work and supported by evidence) explaining how they have met the Standards for CPD.

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