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Embedding Social Prescribing in the community: Reflections from a pilot Social Prescribing project in Ireland.


Yvonne Pennisi ,

University College Cork, Ireland, IE
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Joy Kelleher,

University College Cork, Ireland, IE
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Shauna Diamond

Family Resource Center Mental Health Promotion Project, IE
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Introduction: The Health and Wellbeing Community Referral (HWBCR) Project initiated eight Health and Wellbeing Community Referral projects across southern Ireland, to address health and wellbeing through engagement in meaningful social activities and community participation. The project is based on the concept of social prescribing commonly used in the U.K. although these projects can be described as a social prescribing initiative, the emphasis is  focused on community integration. To ensure a person-centered approach, pilot service users and key community stakeholders were consulted regarding the project's design and the associated evaluation.

This resulted in the development of a service based on the needs and experiences of community stakeholders and service-users.

Aims: The (HWBCR) Project aimed to demonstrate partnerships and cross-sectoral work in the community, to identify strategies needed to enhance social connectedness across the life course.  Essentially this project aimed to connect people most in need whilst addressing and relevant local health and social problems through the determinants of health. 

The objective of the project is to develop community linkage between vulnerable persons and community supports, enriching and developing the community at large in under-resourced areas. The purpose of the evaluation was to examine the health and wellbeing outcomes of the project, using a mixed methods approach.

Findings: The evaluation’s findings suggest that the project had an overall positive influence on service-users and their communities, particularly in terms of social participation, mental wellbeing and quality of life.

Referrals were received from a diverse range of community services, including community workers, carers, and local health professionals. However self-referrals accounted for 45% of referral sources. Service-users reported a feeling of participation in the process and increased sense of “control” over their health and access to health services. Referrals also demonstrated wide range of age, diagnoses and issues.

Interventions were reported by service users to be individualised to each person and their situation.  This was demonstrated with a wide range of interventions from signposting to social groups reported.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic LinkWorkers struggled to identify community groups and resources continuing. As a result, LinkWorkers initiated online groups for their communities, facilitating community engagement and participation during lockdowns.


Conclusions: Key achievements of the HWBCR program included community accessibility and enabling service users to take control and responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. This project provided a link into the community, integrating health care and community services with LinkWorker mapping and addressing gaps in community services.

Implications: Assumptions by services and health care professionals, including only older people or mental health issues are addressed by social prescribing were proven inaccurate.  Going forward the project will continue supporting communities in partnership with the community. Increasing the communication and knowledge between health services and the community will further support the integration  for community participation.  

How to Cite: Pennisi Y, Kelleher J, Diamond S. Embedding Social Prescribing in the community: Reflections from a pilot Social Prescribing project in Ireland.. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2022;22(S3):393. DOI:
Published on 04 Nov 2022.


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