Designing NHS buildings for social prescribing

How can we redesign NHS buildings to support social prescribing and develop a patient estate?

The NHS Long Term Plan has pledged to refer at least 900,000 people to social prescribing by 2023/24 to help improve people’s wellbeing; the fitter, healthier and more socially connected people are, the less likely it is they’ll need to access local GP or other health professionals. 

Our research shows that there's also a strong appetite from the public for these services. A survey we conducted with over 2,000 people in England showed that nearly one fifth of respondents want additional community services at their healthcare facility such as support groups, exercise classes or nutrition programmes, and 38% of patients want access to mental health services, with this increasing to nearly half (49%) in those aged 24-35. 

Social prescribing networks are therefore growing across England for patients to receive community services to improve confidence, reduce isolation and ultimately improve community health and wellbeing, which is more important than ever given the current situation with COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns and social interactions.

But is the NHS and its estate set up to best support the growing demand for these services, both now and in the future? 

Read our report with The King's Fund

Using interviews, case studies and research, The King's Fund, supported by NHS Property Services, has recently released the report 'Social prescribing and NHS facilities' to explore:

  • The current challenges that exist within the NHS estate
  • How the NHS could better use its buildings to support social prescribing and holistic care
  • The value of bringing health and social services together

Read the full report for in-depth insight and recommendations, or read the summary.

How can you use your building to social prescribing?

If you're looking for inspiration about how to use your building to support social prescribing, look no further. Our simple infographic suggests ideas about how to:

  • Transform indoor or outdoor spaces to support community groups and wellbeing
  • Collaborate with the local community in the design and decoration of your building 
  • Make small changes to your existing property to support community wellbeing 

How are we supporting social prescribing?

As part of the NHS family, NHS Property Services is dedicated to supporting the delivery of the Long Term Plan to enable excellent patient care by being the best property and facilities provider for the NHS. Our role as owner and manager of 10% of the total NHS estate and 30% of its primary care estate enables us to create a fit for purpose estate, for now and the future. This puts us in prime position to support the social prescribing agenda.  

We strive to work as one joined-up team, collaborating with our colleagues from different parts of the NHS and creating strong local voluntary sector partnerships to transform vacant space into indoor and outdoor social prescribing spaces. We involve local communities in the design and work closely with CCGs to ensure the spaces really do help address local health and social needs.

We currently have six sites, supporting a range of community groups and charities, and are developing many more up and down the country.

Let's work together

We're keen to work with our NHS colleagues, community groups and charities to develop social prescribing sites that support community wellbeing.

If you have vacant space that you think would be suitable for social prescribing, would like to discuss potential social prescribing sites for development within your area, or are looking for a space to deliver your services to help improve community health and wellbeing, get in touch so we can have a conversation about how we can help.

Get in touch

Sign up to receive social prescribing updates

If you're interested in social prescribing, let us know by signing up to receive social prescribing information from us. We promise we won't bombard you, but you'll get direct access to our helpful guides, webinars and updates on our latest developments.

Sign up