Social prescribing in action: Bristol’s Kitchen on Prescription Alliance
Nutrition lead, Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine
CEO, Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine
We are living longer but rates of long-term health problems such as diabetes and obesity are soaring. If in response our national diet has to change, cookery education could become part of mainstream healthcare. A group of doctors, nutritionists and cooks in Bristol have created a motivational healthy eating cooking course. It is an example of a new wave of ‘social prescription’ options aimed at supporting positive change rather than just giving pills. The course is for prevention and intervention as well as people who just want to stay well.
I’m a nutritional therapist (BSc) with a nursing and complementary health background, running two busy nutritional therapy clinics alongside my work at the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine (PCIM). I’ve had the pleasure of working in a variety of whole-person healthcare settings (including several years at Penny Brohn Cancer Care) which includes nutrition as part of its recommendations. I was also national lead of the College of Medicine’s Innovations Network (2012– 15). I’m delighted to be project managing Kitchen on Prescription (co-ordinated by PCIM) as it’s making a dream of mine a reality – making food part of mainstream healthcare. Helen Cooke
I am a holistic doctor living and working in Bristol at the new Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine, a community interest company set up to support and inspire a broad range of holistic services within mainstream healthcare. I was strategic lead for the Bristol Green Capital Kitchen on Prescription project and the feasibility research and am Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social and Community Medicine in Bristol University. Elizabeth Thompson
It now looks like a healthy diet can play a key role in the prevention and treatment of chronic illness. However, a variety of factors including the growing reliance on processed food is preventing people of all social backgrounds from following the healthy eating advice available to them. One such challenge is weak cooking skills and the need for greater practical knowledge about how to eat healthily on a budget.
The NHS faces serious challenges as people live longer and as chronic health conditions such as diabetes and obesity increase. In England 15 million have one or more long-term conditions, predicted to rise to 20 million by 2020. The pressure this is having on the health system is immense – people with long-term conditions take up 50% of all GP appointments and 70% of inpatient bed days, and account for 70% of the primary and acute care budget in England.
In light of these figures, we need to rethink how these long-term conditions are treated. One approach being advocated is a focus on self-care or self-management approaches that aim to empower patients to improve their health through their own actions. In response to this challenge, a group of medical, nutritional and culinary professionals across Bristol are working together to bring cookery education into mainstream healthcare.
The initiative is called Kitchen on Prescription (KOP). KOP is a ‘socially prescribed’ healthcare intervention that enables healthcare professionals to refer people with a long-term condition to a motivational healthy eating cooking course. It can also be used as a preventative intervention for people who want to stay well and those at risk of developing a health condition. We are living longer but rates of long-term health problems such as diabetes and obesity are soaring. If in response our national diet has to change, cookery education could become part of mainstream healthcare. A group of doctors, nutritionists and cooks in Bristol have created a motivational healthy eating cooking course. It is an example of a new wave of ‘social prescription’ options aimed at supporting positive change rather than just giving pills. The course is for prevention and intervention as well as people who just want to stay well.
The KOP model has been developed and delivered over several years in several centres across Bristol, with similar initiatives being delivered in particular in Wellspring Health Centre in Barton Hill, Hartcliffe Health & Environment Action Group (HHEAG) in Hartcliffe and Knowle West Health Association.
Throughout 2015, funded by a Bristol European Green Capital Grant, the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine has been collaborating with a variety of community food and other professionals/organisations with the ultimate aim to deliver KOP across Bristol as part of a social prescribing model. Bringing in psychological as well as nutritional expertise has been a key innovation as has developing a KOP curriculum which could be delivered across a broad range of communities.
This project has involved a wide variety of activities including the development of an academic feasibility study in collaboration with the University of Bristol.