A new ‘Made in North Wales’ approach to tackling health challenges through social prescribing has been described as real progress and an example for the rest of Wales to learn from by Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Vaughan Gething, at the first ever North Wales Social Prescribing Conference.
Over 150 health, local authority, education, housing and voluntary sector representatives joined together last week at Theatre Clywd for the launch of the new ‘Made in North Wales’ model, which aims to deliver a joined up approach to tackling health inequalities by linking residents to sources of support in their community.
Delegates also heard about the launch of a new Social Prescribing Network which aims to engage all partners working to improve health and wellbeing in North Wales to work together to meet the needs of residents.
The conference was delivered by 2025, a movement of public, private and voluntary sector organisations in North Wales, which includes local authorities and housing association and Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board. It featured presentations from GPs and community and voluntary health care providers all working to promote social prescribing, which is increasingly being recognised as a way to deliver long term health improvements through non-medical opportunities to help people adopt healthier lifestyles.
Providing the keynote speech, Vaugthan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, commented: “What’s encouraging about this model in North Wales is that its aim is to empower people to take control of their own health care, identifying what they can do to better their own health and wellbeing. This is the first time there’s been an ambition to have a joined-up approach in North Wales, and it’s real progress that the rest of the country can learn from.”
Margaret Hanson, Vice Chair of Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, said: “This was our first ever social prescribing conference in North Wales, and we had an overwhelmingly positive response. There was a real shared purpose and commitment from all partners to work together to tackle our most challenging health inequalities and deliver lasting health and wellbeing improvements for residents and communities.
“Through the 2025 Movement we are already seeing the benefits that a partnership approach can bring in transforming the way our services are delivered to do more for the residents we serve. There is a growing recognition that social prescribing needs to be at the heart of the solution going forward, and this event was a real celebration and showcase of difference we can make through a Made in North Wales approach.”
The event was supported by partners Elemental Software, which was set up in 2013 by Northern Ireland based social innovators and community development experts Jennifer Neff and Leeann Monk-Özgül. Elemental Software has developed innovative software to enable health and social care providers at all levels to refer patients to social prescription activities and to track and monitor their health improvement journey.
Elemental Co-Founder, Leeann Monk-Özgül, said: “Social prescribing is becoming increasingly recognised as one of the key elements in supporting residents and communities to play an active role in their own health and wellbeing. It was very much the hot topic at this year’s NHS Health and Care Expo and it’s great to see North Wales is leading the way and embracing social prescribing and the value to can bring in delivering lasting health benefits and creating sustainable and thriving communities.”