The concept of social prescribing


Our Wellbeing Manager, Vicki Burns looks at the concept of social prescribing.

Over the next few weeks, Epilepsy Scotland will be drawing attention to the concept of social prescribing and showcasing the work we do which can be described as a “social prescription.”

If you haven’t heard the term before, it’s simply that instead of (or as well as) writing a prescription for medicine, a health professional will refer the patient to a community based non-clinical service.

This is often a voluntary based organisation or charity that offers support around emotional wellbeing, isolation or practical issues.

It works on the principle that people don’t experience ill-health just because something has gone wrong physically.

Instead that it is much more holistic, our social, economic and mental wellbeing can affect how we feel physically and that how we feel physically affects us mentally, socially and economically.

Therefore, the appropriate response needs to be holistic too.

Social prescription schemes appear to work; a scheme based in Bristol found improvements in anxiety levels and in feelings about general health and quality of life.

Similarly, in Rotherham, 8 out of 10 patients who had been referred to a social prescription organisation 3 to 4 months previously, had less NHS admissions than those who hadn’t.

In Epilepsy Scotland, we are proud to provide a range of services which assist people with the practical and emotional impacts of living with epilepsy.

These include:

  • support and information on our helpline
  • practical advice on benefits
  • training to help people better manage their epilepsy
  • safe spaces for peer support
  • emotional support through one-to-one work and counselling. 

Social prescription


Huge difference made to people with epilepsy

We know that these make a huge difference to people with epilepsy by providing reassurance, boosting their personal finances, reducing their isolation and stress and improving people’s moods.

Also, we know that all of these things make a massive difference to people who are living with epilepsy – many of our participants even report experiencing less seizures after being part of our groups or having had a benefit issue resolved.

We are aware that COVID19 has had a major impact on the emotional and physical wellbeing of people with epilepsy, reporting feeling anxious and depressed or experiencing more seizures than normal.

This is why we have adapted our service to provide the majority of our services by telephone or digitally including:


Feedback from participants

 “I use some of the breathing and relaxation techniques when I think I might have a seizure and have stopped a seizure developing, well, I don’t know, I think I was going to have a seizure, I had that feeling. I relaxed. I did the breathing and it didn’t happen. Maybe I did stop the seizure.”

“Epilepsy Scotland has helped me at this time because I look forward to the Zoom chats and it’s a lot of fun. We do different things each day and it’s good to talk to everyone and I always feel good after and during it.”

The last few months have been extremely challenging for people with epilepsy and we are so proud of the way we have adapted to ensure we can still assist.

We hope the COVID19 situation in Scotland continues to improve and as lockdown continues to ease we look forward to offering a blend of services both digitally and face-to-face.

We are confident that whatever form they take, we will continue to provide a social prescription to people with epilepsy. Please look out for our updates and #socialprescription over the next few weeks to find out more.