Blog written by Tracey Lines, Active Partnerships Social Prescribing Manager
"The most important capacity we possess is our ability to influence ourselves and others. Learn to see every important challenge you face as an influence challenge” The Influencer: The Power to Change Anything
International Social Prescribing Day 2021 represents an important moment in our post-COVID recovery. It signals the widespread need to move away from relying on costly medical systems (that often aren’t always effective) in favour of ‘lifestyle medicine’.
The five key lifestyles that matter in lifestyle medicine are eating, sleeping, moving and sticking to alcohol guidelines and for not smoking. Indeed, evidence from a host of different countries, consistently demonstrates that when groups self-report sticking to official recommendations for each of these behaviours, they experience a progressive and incremental benefit to life expectancy. Saying ‘Yes’ to meeting the recommendations for one of these areas adds extra years of life; saying ‘Yes’ to all five factors adds an average of 14 years extra life compared to those who say ‘No’ to all of them!
Yet, Social Prescribers (SPs) look at health in a different way to traditional Public Health practitioners. Regarding unhealthy lifestyles as the product of social contexts, SPs work to influence the contexts as much as the behaviours themselves.
Social prescribing helps build relationships, unlock individual strengths, increase choice and control, and support connections within the communities where people live.
With this in mind, the question we need to consider as Active Partnerships are:
- How can we contribute to the ever growing, social prescribing agenda?
- How can we work with diverse sectors to advocate and strengthen physical activity with local social prescribing pathways?
- How can we broker new partnerships aiding in the development of holistic social solutions?
Our first instinct within a social prescribing context is so often to deliver training, telling link workers about the benefits of physical activity and teaching them how to raise the topic. Because if you want people’s behaviour to be more sustainable, then it helps if they have the right knowledge? This works to a point, but its far less effective than you’d think.
For physical activity to thrive with social prescribing, we may need to look at better approaches. We need to do things differently. Our clients want us to work with them, not on them, so we co-produce, influence and build creative connections to the community assets that work where they live. This is more effective than focusing on the link worker being the solution.
To help Active Partnerships to become the linchpins of community physical activity, as part of a social prescribing pathway we are launching an exciting Building Connections “test and learn” pilot project This is aimed at motivated Active Partnerships. They can apply to become part of a learning programme.
The programme has been developed in partnership with Leeds Beckett University, led by Professor of Physical Activity and Health, Jim McKenna. It will focus on practical ways to employ the six sources of influence model when embedding physical activity which together provide a sound foundation for getting the behaviour you want.
Jim Kenna says
“We are excited to be working on an innovative programme to build the capacities of Active Partnerships to design their systems. We know they want to develop and lead powerful systems that support both their social prescribing pathway and users to embed physical activity. Using a user-friendly model of behaviour change with six influences (called the ‘six eyes’), Active Partenshp’s will learn how to easily address the six domains of influence that affect us all. Using 10-minute sessions, available as-you-want-them 24-hours/day, we have recorded approaches that emphasise takeaway learning; the main aim of the project is to help daily practices to improve. Importantly, and uniquely, from the first minute of each session, participants will be using the themes to improve their local conditions.”
If you are interested and would like to hear more about the Building Connections Social Prescribing “Test and learn “pilot, you can either book onto the Social Prescribing Workshop on 25th March where it will be discussed and explained further or email firstname.lastname@example.org