Older man sitting with young female doctor, while she takes his blood pressure.

Social Prescriptions for Healthy Ageing

Older man sitting with young female doctor, while she takes his blood pressure.

The Northern Community Health & Research Foundation has launched a research project Program to enable General Practitioners and primary health care providers to better support their ageing patients at home.

NCHRF Chair Mr Nino Di Sisto said more effective and efficient social prescribing can assist to reduce reliance on health services, improve health outcomes, and build the healthy ageing capacity of communities.

“As Chair of the NCHRF I am delighted that we have been able to bring together these research and clinical groups and also provide the major financial contribution to the funding of this valuable project,” Mr Di Sisto said.

The project focuses on improving options for ‘social prescribing’, where a GP or primary care provider refers their patient to local, non-clinical community wellbeing programs and support services. The project will focus on identification of barriers to, and facilitators of, social prescribing for older patients from identified vulnerable communities, with the aim of facilitating a scalable, sustainable approach to health and ageing ‘in place’.

Currently, approximately 20% of patients consult their GP for concerns arising from social issues. Common underlying causes of ill health for older Australians include isolation and loneliness, which have been linked to depression, anxiety, poorer cardiovascular health, and exacerbated cognitive decline.

General Practitioners say there is a clear need for easily accessed options beyond clinical and pharmacological responses, utilising improved holistic understanding of care and the ability to connect patients with community groups and services which can address these issues. 

Evidence-based best practice in social prescribing undertaken by GPs and their teams will be further supported by the involvement of staff and researchers working with the Port Adelaide Enfield, Prospect and Walkerville Councils.

“The active support of the Councils for this project is vital to its success,” Mr Di Sisto said. 

“These are experienced community development practitioners who have developed key resources such as community programs, and are also able to upskill their volunteers to support members of the community to access community programs.”

“Most of us want to be living well at home as long as we can, and with accessible support to services through social prescribing programs, older members of the community can be supported to do so, meaning reduced reliance on other health care services.”

The Social Prescribing for Healthy Ageing project is supported by the Councils of Port Adelaide Enfield, Walkerville and Prospect, Adelaide Primary Health Network, Flinders University and the Northern Communities Health Foundation with funding from The Northern Community Health & Research Foundation, The Hospital Research Foundation and significant in-kind support from Adelaide Primary Health Network.

05 June 2024