BC Association of Community Response Networks

Social Prescribing Program Coming to Langley


Social prescribing is an approach that empowers primary care providers to connect people to community support services and activities to improve health and well-being.[1]

Just as a doctor prescribes medication to treat illness or writes a referral for a specialist to assess a specific ailment, a doctor may also write a referral to a “social prescriber” for a patient who may be having social issues – they may be isolated, or maybe feeling sadness for extended periods of time, or struggling to take care of themselves.

Social prescribing is a means to promote physical activity, nutrition, social connection, and independence, which help people take control of their own health and become more engaged in their communities.[2]

Many communities in BC have active social prescribing programs in place, and some are doing social prescribing at a grassroots level, such as the city as well as the township of Langley.

The Langley Community Response Network (CRN) is partnering with Executive Director Anthony Kupferschmidt of the Langley Senior Resources Society (LSRS) and Fraser Health to launch a social prescribing program to support the community’s adults and seniors. (The Langley CRN is hosted by Langley Seniors in Action (LSA).)

“Social prescribing works as an intervention to frailty and it supports BC CRN’s mandate to empower communities to coordinate responses to adult abuse, neglect, and self-neglect,” says CRN Coordinator Paul Crump. “Social prescribers listen carefully to what patients share, and then appropriately and safely intervene by connecting them to the right services if needed.”

Langley’s pilot program was soft-launched last October, with Linda Smith at the helm. (The first stage of the program was funded by the Province of BC and managed by the United Way.)

Newly retired, Linda is a volunteer social prescriber, a role that she carried over from her career in health. Currently, she is Langley’s only social prescriber and, according to Paul, the “heart and soul of the program”. Working primarily with seniors in independent living at this time, Linda’s referrals come from family doctors, hospital physicians, and social workers. The demand is high. “Including the administration, I work between four to six hours a day on average,” she says.

Next month, Linda and Paul will be joined by Dr. Grace Park of Fraser Health and community leaders to start the work to formalize a social prescribing program to serve Langley.

“The program has been snowballing since October. There is a disconnect between seniors and community resources,” adds Linda. “Social prescribing closes this gap.”

Be sure to look for follow-up stories on this initiative and for information on what it takes to be a social prescriber in upcoming editions of E-Connector.

For more information about the Langley CRN, contact Coordinator Paul Crump at pcrump4@shaw.ca or Regional Mentor Jas Cheema at jas.cheema@bccrns.ca.

Written by: Debbie Chow, Links Communication Solutions. Follow Debbie on LinkedIn: @debbiechowabc

[1] Source: https://www.cfp.ca/content/67/2/88

[2] Source: https://sharesociety.ca/social-prescribing

(Header photo: Creative Commons License)