Arts can help ageing and loneliness, says Hancock

Person-centred social prescribing can help tackle ageing, loneliness, mental health, and other long-term conditions, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock is expected to say today (Tuesday 6 November).

In his speech at the second national annual conference on social prescription – Social prescribing: coming of age – at the King’s Fund, he will tell an audience how arts and culture should become an ‘indispensable tool’ for doctors to help patient recovery.

Hancock is expected to say: ‘We’ve been fostering a culture that’s popping pills and Prozac. When what we should be doing is more prevention and perspiration.

‘Social prescribing can help us combat over-medicalising people. Of dishing out drugs when it isn’t what’s best for the patient. And it won’t solve their problem.’

He will outline three ways social prescribing can help patients – libraries, music and a new National Academy for Arts on Prescription.

Hancock will say: ‘Music can help people with dementia. How it can reduce the need for medication. How it can reduce agitation and combative behaviour. How it can reduce the need for restraints and help dementia patients and their families cope better with symptoms. Personal playlists could offer a simple solution to this growing problem.’

On Monday (5 November), Hancock set out his vision for how he plans to transform the government’s approach to prevention, paving the way for a green paper in 2019. In July, he listed technology, workforce and prevention of illness as his three initial priorities to improving health and social care.

Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed all GPs in England will be able to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community activities and voluntary services by 2023 in the first ever Loneliness Strategy.