Location: Rotherham

About: The Rotherham Social Prescribing scheme is operated by Voluntary Action Rotherham (VAR) on behalf of NHS Rotherham CCG as part of a wider Integrated Case Management programme in primary care. VAR employs a Social Prescribing Service project team – a Manager and five Voluntary and Community Sector Advisers. A risk stratification tool is used by GP practices to identify eligible patients (mainly older people with a variety of long-term conditions). Advisers discuss patients at risk of unplanned hospital admission within the integrated case management teams and patients identified as needing non-clinical means of support to improve their health and wellbeing are referred to the social prescribing scheme.

Advisers then carry out a home visit to undertake a social need assessment and link patients into appropriate services in the voluntary and community sector. Many services are funded under contracts with local voluntary and community sector organisations including the local Age UK, Citizens Advice Bureau, Alzheimer’s Society and Sense. Services include befriending and enabling; dementia services; carers’ respite; community engagement groups; advice and information; advocacy; sensory services; therapeutic services and community hubs based on an asset based community development (ABCD) model. There is also capacity to spot-purchase solutions for patients whose needs cannot be met by the main providers.

Services are time-limited, as a pathway to independence, with an emphasis on enabling patients to take control. Patients’ progress towards social outcomes is measured using a specially developed tool. It has eight measures associated with different aspects of self-management and wellbeing; from sleeping habits and managing symptoms, to work and volunteering, to friends and family.

During the pilot phase of the project (April 2012 to March 2014) 83 per cent of patients experienced positive change in at least one social outcome area where 27% of patients made progress against the family and friends outcomes, with 69% of those with a low score on this measure at baseline making progress.

There were also significant benefits to the NHS:

  • inpatient admissions reduced by 21%;
  • Accident and Emergency attendances reduced by as much as 20%; and
  • outpatient appointments reduced by as much as 21%

The pilot phase cost £1.1 million. An independent assessment of the return on investment estimated that the longer-term return on investment could reach £3.38 per pound, if the benefits being achieved by the end of the pilot were sustained over a five year period. In addition the value of patients’ wellbeing benefits was estimated as between £819,000 and £920,000 by the end of the pilot. The CCG has re-commissioned the service.

Participant Quote:

“The only person I talked to was the Tesco delivery driver…One day feeling my life was totally worthless, I visited my GP. She said she had heard about a new thing called ‘social prescribing’… She did not offer me pills. This was great! …Now I have friends, I go out for meals; I’ve been on day trips to the coast, the animal park and other places. There’s always something to look forward to.”


Who: NHS Rotherham CCG and Voluntary Action Rotherham

Address: Voluntary Action Rotherham
The Spectrum
Coke Hill
Rotherham S60 2HX

Tel: 01709 829821

Web: http://www.varotherham.org.uk