Webinar: Perspectives on Social Prescribing

The seventh webinar in the PCHSS 2020-2021 Webinar Series was on different perspectives on social prescribing.


Event summary:

With rising levels of chronic illness, social isolation, and mental illness, it is more important than ever that the health system adapts to find new ways to support patients and improve outcomes. In this webinar, our speakers discussed the uptake of Social Prescribing programs in Australia and abroad, and why it is so important that we continue to raise awareness of these programs.


About our speakers:

Associate Professor Yvonne Zurynski

Yvonne is Associate Professor of Health System Sustainability at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University. She has broad experience and expertise in research and education across health sectors and disciplines having conducted research in settings ranging from primary care to intensive care. She led the evaluation of integrated care initiatives across the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) and maintains research collaborations with the Integrated Care team at SCHN.  Her research expertise includes conducting epidemiological studies, clinical research studies, and mixed methods studies of patient and provider experiences of the health system including health services use, transition between paediatric and adult services, health costs and out of pocket expenses incurred by consumers.

James Sanderson

James Sanderson is the Director of Personalised Care at NHS England and NHS Improvement where he leads on a range of programmes that are supporting people to have greater choice and control over their health and wellbeing. James also became the CEO to the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) in 2019 where James leads on creating partnerships, across the arts, health, sports, leisure, and the natural environment, alongside other aspects of our lives, to promote health and wellbeing at a national and local level.

Professor Mark Morgan

Professor Mark Morgan trained in general practice in the UK. He has worked both in rural and urban Australia as a GP, educator and researcher. His research interests include patient safety, primary care data, shared decision making and the management of patients with multiple long-term medical conditions. Mark holds a senior leadership role with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners as the chair of the Expert Committee for Quality Care and represents the College on national committees. At Bond University Faculty of Health, Science and Medicine, Mark is the Associate Dean for External Engagement and teaches within the Medical Program.

Carolyn Dew

Carolyn Dew is an artist living in the regional city of Bendigo. Carolyn graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts with post-graduate qualifications in fine art photography and has been making photographs for over 25 years while working in the arts sector on creative initiatives that support social change. Carolyn has held key roles at the Torch, an organisation providing art, cultural and arts industry support to Indigenous offenders and ex-offenders in Victoria. In 2018 Carolyn worked with a creative team to develop the Cultural Pharmacy concept as a magical physical space that encouraged the public to take a regular tonic of arts and culture to ensure a healthier and more fulfilling life. Most recently, Carolyn has been working on a new iteration of the Cultural Pharmacy as a targeted and responsive place-based prescribing service that utilises local cultural offerings, assets and networks to assist individuals in navigating a path to beneficial and sustainable creative habits.


During the session, the speakers received several questions from attendees and they provided the following responses:

I am interested to better understand what support you think community organisations need to effectively participate in social prescribing? Is there any evidence about that?

[Carolyn] I think it’s just about making those links and having that expertise to translate how those particular community organisations or services can actually assist people in their health, and how they can actually influence the social determinants of health. It’s just the knowledge and the resources. It’s actually not a lot of resources for us to run our program, and it would have been a lot of work particularly getting everything established, but really it was two people. Of course, each of your partners has to make a commitment too, and that commitment can vary, so each of your partners has to have capacity, [and] GPs have to be committed and have the capacity.

Are social prescribing and link workers the preferred/ most commonly used terms?

[Mark] If you’re talking academic discussion and funding programs when you’re talking to the Department of Health, then those are the words you use because they’ve got definitions and they mean something, but when you’re talking to people in the community or to health workers that are at the coalface and working then I think you have to explain what you mean by those things because they’re often doing it without knowing that it’s called that.

Is there work happening in the item number space so GP’s can receive support for their involvement?

[Mark] Item numbers are quite a blunt instrument because they tend to generate churn, or repeated activities, but not necessarily high value activities to the people that most in need. The work has actually been looking at alternatives, which is to link block funding for services provided by a practice, and people can voluntarily enrol within that practice, and the flip side of voluntary enrolling… accessing a lot of extra services but the practice receives some funding that might pay for care coordination activities, social prescribing activities, and a bunch of other things, so I think it’s looking at providing the infrastructure in a funded way rather than a fee for service item number that just generates activity.

You can watch all of the PCHSS webinars on our YouTube channel here.

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