Health Soc Care Community. 2022 Jul 23. doi: 10.1111/hsc.13949. Online ahead of print.
Older people’s well-being can be bolstered by engaging with cultural activities and venues. They may be encouraged to try cultural offers by a link worker as part of social prescribing. However, the cultural sector, like all parts of life, was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; this has had implications for cultural offers available to link workers. A study was conducted to explore the views and experiences of link workers in using the cultural sector within social prescribing, particularly for older people (aged 60+) during the pandemic. An online questionnaire was distributed to and completed by link workers in the UK. Data were analysed mainly using descriptive statistics. Open text responses were clustered into similar ideas to create key concepts. Useable responses were received from 148 link workers. They highlighted a general lack of interaction between link workers and the cultural sector about how the latter could support social prescribing. Results suggested that personal familiarity with cultural offers might prompt link workers to refer to them. Some respondents proposed that cultural offers were regarded as elitist, which deterred them from referring there. However, there was a general acknowledgement that the cultural sector could contribute to social prescribing. Link workers need to regard the cultural sector as accessible, appropriate, adequate, affordable and available before referring older people to cultural offers as part of social prescribing. Link workers may benefit from becoming more familiar with cultural sector staff and offers, including online resources, so they can then propose them to patients with confidence.