The National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) has launched a survey to find out about social prescribing for people with learning disabilities and autistic people.
The NDTi are working with Learning Disability England, BILD, Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, Respond, Paradigm and VODG to improve health equality for everyone.
The organisations want to hear from autistic people, people with a learning disability and family members and support workers to find out what is working well and what needs to improve.
What is social prescribing?
According to the King’s Fund, social prescribing enables healthcare professionals (usually GPs and practice nurses) to refer people to a range of non-clinical services.
These services are available in local communities and can include sports and exercise groups, cookery, gardening, volunteering and art activities.
These activities are designed to improve physical and mental wellbeing, and are usually prescribed to people with mild or long-term mental health problems, people with complex needs, people who are socially isolated and those with multiple long-term conditions who frequently attend either primary or secondary healthcare.
How can social prescribing benefit people with learning disabilities?
Social prescribing has a range of benefits, and research has demonstrated that it can improve quality of life; emotional, mental and general wellbeing; and levels of depression and anxiety.
During the Covid pandemic, many people with learning disabilities were asked to shield at home and restrict contact with others.
This meant that many people with learning disabilities lost their routine, were partaking in fewer activities and had fewer social connections and relationships.
Social prescribing has therefore become an extremely useful way to encourage people with learning disabilities to become re-engaged in the community and partake in various activities that boost health and wellbeing.
However, there is still poor public awareness of the needs of people with a learning disability, and opportunities for social prescribing are often missed by healthcare professionals.
The survey is designed for people with lived experience and professionals in the sector
The NDTi are now looking for people with lived experience to fill out their survey so they can find out more about how helpful social prescribing is to autistic people and people with a learning disability, and how widely it is being used.
They are also hoping to hear from those who work in the sector, such as those who run a social prescribing service and link workers.