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Connecting the cultural social prescribing workforce

Connecting the cultural social prescribing workforce

The cultural social prescribing workforce comprises a complex, cross-sector mix of professionals including link workers, artists, and clinicians; it sees a wide range of people with different specialisms, who work in disparate ways, brought together.

As we move towards maximising the impact of social prescribing on individuals and our communities, it is essential to connect people working across this area. It's an opportunity to unite the workforces involved and establish insights into one another's worlds, to find out more about how colleagues work and the challenges experienced in each role.

Connecting the workforce enables progress, and unites those at the forefront of social prescribing to help provide an integrated approach to prescribing arts and culture. It also allows the development of a rich inter-professional workforce who understand each other's contexts, understand the people being referred, and understand how to communicate effectively with everyone. For instance, people will work in different locations, with diverse communities who have a myriad of needs, and it is beneficial to establish a better understanding and knowledge of what's involved.

Sharing experience and expertise through connecting social prescribing colleagues is a relatively new phenomenon, but there is a recent example of local authorities leading the way through an original approach. The London Boroughs of Southwark and Merton, in collaboration with Performing Medicine, ran a successful pilot programme to identify the need for cross-sector learning and working across the three professional groups involved in social prescribing of arts and culture.

Interestingly, it encouraged a shift in thinking from acute needs such as housing, debt and crisis, to consideration also of the valuable role of arts and culture on health and wellbeing.

Evaluation of the pilot programme highlighted the significant need for nationwide interprofessional training of this kind in order to support the growing social prescribing movement and to facilitate future access to a rich array of arts and cultural social prescribing offers.

Taking the pilot programme a step further, it has also helped steer the development of the first ever cultural social prescribing workforce development programme. Performing Medicine has created this flexible and comprehensive programme to support a mutual understanding and awareness of the challenges and opportunities for arts and health professionals working in social prescribing. We are also excited to announce that One Croydon, (a partnership between the local NHS, Croydon Council, and Age UK Croydon) and the London Borough of Brent and Enfield are now also among the first to adopt this approach.

Read more about our pilot programme here, and please do get in touch if you would like more information on our social prescribing workforce development programme.

Written by Carly Annable-Coop, programme manager at Performing Medicine, an initiative from charity Clod Ensemble, that provides art-based workforce training programmes across the health and social care sector. Follow on Twitter @PerformingMed1 

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Saturday, 03 December 2022