by Sarah Walker, nature and wellbeing project manager at RSPB England members of the Accelerating Innovation Community of Practice
Health professionals in Derbyshire have become the first in England to use RSPB Nature Prescriptions to boost health and wellbeing.
The new project, led by the RSPB and the Peak District National Park Authority, is working with social prescribing services to trial Nature Prescriptions, a novel way to improve quality of life and wellbeing for people through nature. It is the first time the project has been trialled in England, following successful pilots in Scotland.
The RSPB Nature Prescription is a guided conversation between a healthcare professional and their patient to encourage and support them to connect with the natural world to benefit their mental and physical wellbeing.
Complementing other health interventions, this conversation is supported by a prescription leaflet and a seasonal calendar of mindful ideas and suggestions to enable people to explore ways of connecting to nature that are personal and meaningful to them.
This is a free to use, non-medical approach based on accessible, self-led activities that people can do from home, on their own or with others; and that aim to cultivate lasting connections with nature that inspire a desire to nurture and protect it.
In Derbyshire we are working with two Primary Care networks covering 13 GP practices. RSPB Nature Prescriptions will be offered by Social Prescribing Link Workers hosted by The Bureau and High Peak CVS who receive referrals from GPs, community mental health teams, adult social care and the Live Life Better Derbyshire scheme, as well as self-referrals.
Working in partnership with community groups and social prescribing services, while being championed by GPs, is incredibly important for the success of the project.
A growing body of evidence indicates that individuals with a greater connection to nature experience improved mental wellbeing, greater vitality and happiness, and are more satisfied with life. Research also shows that increasing your connection with nature can positively impact a range of conditions, including stress, anxiety and depression.
The trial comes on the back of successful pilot projects ran by RSPB Scotland in the Shetland Isles and Edinburgh which resulted in over 74% of patients saying they benefitted from their prescription and 87% of people saying that they would continue to use nature to support their health and wellbeing. The project is now also expanding to other locations in Scotland.
We are confident in the use of RSPB Nature Prescriptions and are seeking to form new partnerships to deliver Nature Prescriptions in other areas of England. Please get in touch with [email protected] to find out more.
NASP is a partner in the cross-Government Green Social Prescribing project, which connects people to community groups running nature-based activities to improve mental health. Find out more.