Social prescribing of arts to help patients recovery

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that social prescribing of arts and culture should become an ‘indispensable tool’ for doctors to help aid patients’ recovery.

Speaking at the King’s Fund, the Health Secretary outlined the ways he believes person-centred social prescribing can tackle ageing, loneliness, mental health, and other long-term conditions. Criticising the reliance of treating long-term illnesses with drugs, he said that culture therapy, such as dancing and music classes, could save the NHS money.

Under the new plans, trips to libraries and concert halls - as well as 'personal playlists' of music - could be prescribed to help patients and their families cope with the symptoms of degenerative mental diseases.

However, the Alzheimer's Society has said that it ‘cannot see music and the arts alone as some kind of silver bullet for people with dementia’.

Sally Copley, from the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “There is no denying that social interaction, music and the arts have a key role to play in helping the 850,000 people with dementia across the UK to feel empowered and able to continue to doing the things they enjoy. We know from activities like Alzheimer’s Society’s Singing for the Brain groups just how valuable the arts are in helping to combat the isolation and loneliness felt by many people with dementia.

“It is certainly a positive step to be focussing on the wider picture of person-centred care but we cannot see music and the arts alone as some kind of silver bullet for people with dementia. What we really need to see in addition to social prescribing is GPs giving people with dementia access to the right support and medication when needed and, crucially, the government ensuring adequate funding for care is addressed in the upcoming green paper.”

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