St Michael’s Hospital Offering Social Prescribing Service to Patients

We are delighted to feature a guest blog by Dermot Burke, Senior MSk Physiotherapist at St Michael’s Hospital on the Social Prescribing Service they are offering to their Patients.

St Michael’s Hospital Offering Social Prescribing Service to Patients

It is commonly understood that an individual’s health cannot solely be addressed by clinical care alone. Social determinants of health, an individual’s lifestyle choices and health behaviours also play a very significant part in overall health outcomes. 

Social Prescribing
Social Prescribing refers to the process of accessing non-medical interventions; it is a mechanism for linking people with non-medical sources of support within the community to improve physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. It is a whole person, holistic approach that is focused on supporting people, helping them to connect with community, national and online resources that optimise health outcomes. Patients are routinely provided with up-to-date clinical advice and health information but rarely the means and supports to be able to enact and maintain positive lifestyle choices or address the social determinants of health. Modern behavioural change theory informs us that information alone is insufficient to achieve this.

At St Michael’s Hospital, we have bridged this gap by collaborating with Southside Partnership and Elemental Software, becoming one of the first hospitals in the country to be able to provide a Social Prescribing Service to our patients

How it works
Once a patient is identified as a candidate for social prescribing, the Elemental portal enables referrers to make an online referral to the appropriate local social prescribing service. Link workers from the social prescribing team organise to speak with the patient about what activities might interest them or what supports they might need and they then assist them in availing of and participating in these activities. The link workers use motivational interviewing techniques and meet regularly with the patient to encourage them to stay engaged and become active participants in their social prescribing journey.


We initially piloted the service at the end of 2020 in St Michael’s Outpatient Physiotherapy Department and then, utilising this experience, trained staff and rolled out the service throughout the hospital in May of 2021. To date, over 80 patients have been referred through the pathway, accessing a variety of different community services and supports ranging from walking groups, cafe meet ups, physical activity programmes, interview training, technology up-skilling and even a dog grooming course! Success has been maintained with regular stakeholder engagement and great support from senior management. Our next step will be to conduct a study looking at the impact social prescribing has had on patients and our own hospital services.

The future landscape of healthcare is changing, focusing on a shift away from expensive acute hospital care to more preventative/proactive home and community initiatives. Social prescribing is well positioned to help facilitate this.

St Michael’s Hospital, Dun LaoghaireDermot Burke MSc Bsc PG Dip | Senior MSk Physiotherapist, St Michael’s Hospital | HIHI Innovation Champion

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