A 12-month pilot project has been launched this week to help improve health and quality of life for patients in east Birmingham.
The social prescribing project in Hodge Hill aims to lead to improved health outcomes for patients and easing the pressure on local healthcare services.
It is being supported by Birmingham CrossCity Clinical Commissioning Group through its East Birmingham Local Commissioning Network, which has been working in partnership with voluntary organisation Open Door Community Foundations' 'Opening Doors' service.
Dr Bhikhu Pattni, chair of East Birmingham Local Commissioning Network, said: "Social prescribing tackles non-medical issues such as social, emotional or practical needs, which can have a big impact on a patient's health.
"By providing and facilitating patients' access to the right support and opportunities, they can often manage their condition or situation better, with significant improvement in health and quality of life; reduced social isolation; improved mental health outcomes; and this can mean fewer primary care consultations and fewer visits to outpatients and A&E.
"This pilot will enable healthcare professionals to refer patients, or for patients to refer themselves, to help outside of general practice, meaning they get additional support for their needs through the Opening Doors service."
The pilot will take place at two practices: Bucklands End Lane Surgery in Bucklands End Lane; and Firs Surgery in Kempson Road.
Sarah Maxfield, community worker, said: "The Opening Doors service will operate a weekly session open to everyone in each of the two practices, with particular focus on elderly patients and those with long term conditions as these patients can often feel socially isolated, depressed, lacking in confidence or self-esteem.
"Acting as a community co-ordinator, we will be able to provide support through personalised goal setting, mentoring and buddying, as well as linking patients to other local non-clinical community services and signposting them to additional information, advice and support."