"Social Prescriptions" have become the new in for Canadians and has become so popular that even Ontario's ROM has gotten in on the action by offering free admission to Canadians who can provide a doctor’s note. But what even are these social prescriptions and what does it really mean?
Social Prescriptions are part of a pilot program, which is run by the Alliance for Healthier Communities, which is a form of prescription (just like the ones you get for any prescription medication) that doctors, support and social workers are able to prescribe to their patients across Canada.
The idea is that doctors will prescribe social activities, opposed to medication, to help patients strengthen community bonds or social connections and help patients avoid social isolation. It can be used to help refugees, people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety etc.
According to Safia Ahmed, executive director of the Rexdale Centre, these social prescriptions were tested over the summer by 500 participants at the Rexdale Community Health Care Centre and many patients have claimed to see amazing improvements in their mental health because of it.
The ROM and 20 other centres will be involved in this new program and will aim to help over 5,000 people over the next year through social prescriptions. These prescriptions could including attending a sports class, visiting a museum, knitting clubs, etc.
ROM CEO Josh Basseches spoke out about the news, stating, “I’ve always been a believer that museums can transform people’s lives,” and wishes to achieve this by giving over 20,000 free visits in the next year for those with doctor referrals.
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Not only will the ROM be letting in people with prescriptions, but three other people will be able to attend the ROM for free with the patient.
These social prescriptions are not only being used to help improve a patient’s well-being but is also predicted to reduce visits to the doctor office and lessen clinic wait times.
Dr. Kate Mulligan, from Alliance, has stated that social prescriptions have already been used in the United Kingdom and have cut down health-care costs and wait times significantly as many patients are able to be referred to support workers. Dr. Mulligan predicts Canada will be able to see the same positive results this year as well.