What is Social Prescribing?

Social prescribing is a type of support that helps to connect people to community support to better manage their health and well-being. It can help people in a lot of ways and give them increased control over their circumstances. 

There are a lot of things social prescribing can help with, like loneliness, physical activity, legal problems, and finances. A person might get a referral to the social prescribing practitioner from someone like a healthcare professional (such as a GP) or a community worker, or they might decide on their own to make contact with the social prescribing practitioner. ​​

The social prescribing practitioner can chat with them to help them identify their nonmedical needs and access local support. They might also support them by attending the socially prescribed activity. Despite using the term ‘prescribing’, social prescribing in Wales does not mean that someone is being told what they should do. It’s more about supporting someone to identify areas of their life and well-being that they want to improve.​​

Why do we need a glossary of terms?

One problem with social prescribing is that it has a lot of confusing language. To make it even more confusing, some of the aspects of social prescribing use different terms to describe the same thing! ​

This can make it hard for the people who work in social prescribing to communicate with each other. It also makes it hard for them to communicate with members of the public. This can prevent people from using social prescribing. After all, if you can’t understand what something is, you might be less likely to give it a go. 

​For this reason, we’ve made a glossary of social prescribing terms to make it easier to understand.​​

What is a glossary of terms?

You can think of it as a dictionary for social prescribing. The glossary is the result of a lot of research. In this research, we identified hundreds of terms used in social prescribing. To find out see ‘Making the glossary’. From all these terms we have produced a list of 36 terms that describe the most important aspects of social prescribing. ​​ ​

Some of the terms in this glossary you might have heard of already and wondered what they mean. Other terms are more likely to be used only by those who work in social prescribing. WSSPR and PHW produced the glossary of terms aimed at those who work in, or with, social prescribing. We have produced different versions of the glossary to make sure that is accessible to both professionals and the public. You can find these on this website by switching between reading modes (professional/public) and languages (Welsh/English) using the tab at the top. Or you can download them as a PDF. ​