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What does ‘Asset-based’ social prescribing look like?

In a recent blog, Mayday Trust’s CEO Alex Fox was asked to explore ‘Asset-based’ social prescribing following an inquiry into the practice.  Alex’s blog explores how pressure on GP practices could be greatly reduced where this approach is taken.


Altogether Better’s pioneering work with GP practices consistently identifies a group of people visiting the practice regularly for non-medical reasons which do not improve, often with 80% of the resources being used by 20% of the practice’s patients. So if social prescribing link workers can build a rapport with an individual, find out what matters to them and link them to social and community activities, they have the opportunity to help those individuals in ways that GPs cannot.


The emphasis here being on relationship and doing things differently.  Alex says the issue with common models of social prescribing can be:


Some link workers having high caseloads, short timeframes, and rely heavily on ‘signposting’ to local charities at a time when they may have high demand and shrinking resources. Some ‘health coaching’ is provided by people with little training and with no obvious change model underpinning the work. This can mean that some social prescribing works best for people with less complex needs, in areas with lots of community activity and less poverty and inequality. This has the potential to exacerbate health inequalities and reinforce unconscious bias among health practitioners about who can be helped. Social prescribing was also not designed to engage with deep-rooted issues like poverty and institutional racism within the NHS.

Mayday Trust has adapted its strengths-based coaching and system model, the PTS Response, to achieve an asset-based approach within the Spring social prescribing contract, with local partners in Northamptonshire and Bridges Outcomes Partnership.

Alex argues that social prescribing works best when following PTS Response principles, a coaching method developed by Mayday Trust now being used as a model of best practice by other organisations across the UK, the key principles being:

  1. Seeing the whole person, their strengths and potential: avoiding forms, assumptions, eligibility criteria or targets. The coach’s primary goal is to build a trusting relationship.
  2. Being led by the person without ‘fixing’: tough times shouldn’t be permanent, but coaches stick with people for as long as they want, and offer personal budgets where needed.
  3. Engaged with the world outside of services: building connection and community, helping people to access resources and to challenge systems which are harming them.

Click here to read Alex’s full blog post on taking a strengths based approach to social prescribing.

To find out more about bringing a strength’s based approach to social prescribing, click to download the documents below:

What is STRENGTHS-BASED social prescribing?

Spring Social Prescribing Information