Insights December 02, 2022

What is a social prescribing hub?

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The Flourish Wellbeing Hub is an example of what a social prescribing hub situated inside an existing NHS building can look like. NHS property services recognised that unused space inside Victoria Central Hospital could have a better purpose. Local groups who will provide holistic, personalised care to the community moved into the refurbished spaces. The new social prescribing hub within Victoria Central Hospital, in the Wirral, opened its doors on November 24th. The warm, welcoming and inclusive spaces ensure that the social prescribing partners; Citizens Advice Wirral, Involve Northwest, Age UK Wirral, Wirral Mind and Change Grow Live, can all work collaboratively. Local residents will get access to a variety of social prescribing services and human centred care. The social prescribing hub consists of shared workspaces for the link workers, smaller individual consultation rooms, activity rooms for larger group sessions and facilities for a creche, as well as a healthy café run by Nightingale.

How do you plan spaces for social prescribing?

We created a participatory design process by meeting with the different groups in the hub. We met on-site, and over Zoom, to understand requirements, confirm the scope and share inspiring examples of similar projects. We then put together a briefing document to capture all the ideas. 

Our concept design included floor plans for over 221 sqm on the first and second floor. Simple images of room types helped explore layouts, complex colour schemes, and finishes. We then met with the team to present plans, offer advice on choosing colours, suggest finishes and furniture. By co-locating all these services within a hospital, the hub will provide a holistic support space where collaboration and training can also take place to help address wider social issues.

What does a space for social prescribing look like?

A place for social prescribing can be anything from a welcoming garden, to a consultation room or cafe. It was a requirement from the charity organisations involved that the social prescribing hub should be non clinical and welcoming, especially as it is set within a hospital building. 

As architects our aim here was to make sure these rooms looked anything but clinical, adding colour, images from nature, and comfy new furniture to help create warm homely environments where people could feel at ease. There was plenty of great feedback on the day:

“I didn’t know if an old hospital wing would be suitable for our mental health charity, but as soon as we arrived we realised this is perfect.”

What is the benefit of social prescribing?

On average, GPs in England report spending 19 % of consultation time on non – medical matters.There is no doubt that issues that are not medical still affect health – and that is where the importance of social prescribing comes in. Social prescribing provides holistic care, focussing on better health outcomes as prevention, so pharmaceuticals and medical interventions can be avoided. This saves the NHS a lot of money, and more importantly gives more people the opportunity for a long and healthy life.

Who designs spaces for social prescribing?

As architects we are well placed to manage diverse stakeholders, understand the complexity of working within existing buildings, understand the spatial requirements and also ensure that the spaces have a warm, human touch that supports wellbeing.

We truly enjoyed delivering the Flourish Wellbeing Hub and look forward to visiting the centre when it is fully established to get more feedback from staff and visitors.

Are you interested in discussing whether your space is suitable for social prescribing?

Get in touch and we would be more than happy to discuss.

To Download our Social Prescribing Brochure click here


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