Innovative ways of using non-medical approaches to boost health are the focus of two new courses at Wrexham Glyndwr University.

The courses will be looking at social prescribing – which is essentially describes an approach where health professionals refer patients to support in the community aimed at boosting their health and well-being. The range of social prescribing options is growing all the time, with example activities including volunteering, arts and crafts, gardening, befriending schemes and much more.

Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader on Glyndwr’s mental health programme, Justine Mason, said: “Social prescribing is certainly a hot topic at the moment, but in these courses we want to look behind the headlines and study what using its techniques in our communities actually means.

“As a method of helping boost wellbeing, social prescribing is being used increasingly across North Wales – and it’s also something which many of our staff have been involved in, whether that is delivering social prescribing themselves, researching how to develop a learning needs framework for North Wales, or analysing the ways professionals in other sectors carry out their social prescribing activities.

“With the increasing profile of social prescribing, we wanted to start developing some short courses which would help develop people’s skills – both for those new to the subject and for those who may already be involved but looking to further their career.

“One of our courses, Fundamentals of Social Prescribing, starts this week for the first time in 2020 and is for the person who is interested in finding out more – it may be their first real look at social prescribing and they want to get a taste of the subject. We’ll also be running it again later in the year.

“The second, Developing Social Prescribing, will also run later this year and is for the more experienced practitioner – the kind of person who might be working with social prescribing in a context where they are applying for bid funding or wanting to evaluate schemes they have been running to help apply for further funding.

“On the courses, we look at some of theory behind social prescribing – the way it works – but also the personal and professional qualities you need to be a social prescriber. Those are things like motivational interviewing, communication skills, and professional conduct – which form part of the syllabus of not only the short courses, but also our wider degree programmes as well.

“It is the right time for courses like these, as social prescribing’s popularity grows as a way to tackle preventable health conditions. It’s also important as what social prescribing does is connect people – and in our increasingly disconnected society, that is a real positive.”

To find out more about the short courses, click here for the Fundamentals of Social Prescribing course and here for the Developing Social Prescribing course.