The role of social prescribing for people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment
Approximately 6% of people aged over 65 have Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) (Sachdev et al., 2015). Cognitive decline may develop into dementia, but this is not inevitable. Once diagnosed with MCI, people are often discharged back to their GP without additional support. This can leave them feeling confused and uncertain about how to help themselves (Beard and Neary, 2013). There is evidence that non-pharmacological approaches (e.g. cognitive and physical exercises) can be beneficial for this patient group (Teixeira et al., 2012; Tucker and Stern, 2011). However, more research on other means of supporting these individuals is required.
Social prescribing helps people locate and access community assets (e.g. groups, organisations, charities, activities) that can improve or maintain their holistic health (mind, body and relationships). This can include accessing events in cultural and heritage settings (e.g. in theatres, art galleries, museums). To date, there has been little exploration of social prescribing in addressing the well-being of people with MCI. Social prescribing has the potential to support these individuals, their relatives and healthcare professionals. What format social prescribing for people with MCI should take is unclear.
We received funding from the MARCH network to run a sandpit event to explore the topic. On 24th February we brought together key stakeholders from a range of backgrounds (healthcare professionals, social prescribing providers, people affected by MCI and researchers). The day was a mixture of brief presentations (on MCI and social prescribing) and group discussions. Through the group discussions, people from a range of backgrounds shared and explored ideas together. The day ended by developing ideas and questions for research, which those attending will take forward and submit for funding.