Building Bridges: An Overview of Social Prescribing for Older Adults in British Columbia

Margaret Lin, Bev Pitman, Prab Sandhu and Maureen Ashe

Social prescribing is a health and social model of care that recognizes community-based knowledge, resources, and other types of care or support. Informed by the social determinants of health, it aims to address people’s unmet social needs. Although it has been around for some time, a more coordinated approach has started globally.

In British Columbia, social prescribing for older adults launched in 2020, with demonstration programs in almost 20 sites. From startup until March 2023, the programs have supported approximately 2,500 older adults. Currently, social prescribing is offered in almost 60 community programs, with plans for further growth across the province.

Implementing social prescribing includes partnerships and close collaboration among people with unmet social needs, health and social care providers, community-based not-for-profit organizations, and other local services such as transportation to support comprehensive and connected care management. Some strategies to support the implementation of social prescribing can include consistent education, building environmental support, standardizing processes and dedicated team members.

Research related to social prescribing, specifically for older adults, is growing. Future areas for exploration include the implementation of social prescribing; the co-creation of care management pathways with input from older adults, families and communities, and defining important and meaningful outcomes to measure.

In this webinar, we aim to provide a description of social prescribing for older adults from the BC perspective. Watch here.