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Social Prescribing in an Acute Hospital Setting

St James's Hospital, Dublin, was Ireland's first social prescribing project to have a social prescribing link worker based in a hospital setting.

The Mercer's Institute for Successful Ageing (MISA) at St James's Hospital, Dublin, with financial support from Sláintecare, appointed a Social Prescribing Link Co-ordinator to support patients who avail of this service. This service was initiated in May 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At St James's Hospital, a comprehensive geriatric assessment includes a psychosocial evaluation of the patient's situation. Where a need is identified, the person is referred to the Social Prescribing Link Co-ordinator. In addition, any member of the multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, speech and language therapists, and the Home First Team in the MISA can refer both inpatients and outpatients through usual clinical practice.

The Social Prescribing Link Co-ordinator through the Local Asset Mapping Project (LAMP), a web-based tool developed as part of this project, connects service users to community assets to help support their overall quality of life. LAMP has the potential to help connect all patients attending St James's Hospital with community assets surrounding the hospital. A conservative estimate is that it can further contribute to the health and well-being of the 200,000 people living in the hospital catchment area.

Project evaluation is currently underway, and valuable lessons from this project could be applied to other acute hospital settings across the country.


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