23 05 17 Social Prescribing – Arts & Health

I think we could all do with a bit of social prescribing today. I think it’s been a very difficult day for us all and a very sad day and anything to lift our spirits would help. But I would like to thank the health Secretary for bringing forward this proposal because I think it shows that there is an understanding that there’s more to health than just looking after the physical well-being of a patient. Jenny Rathbone has underlined the fact that one in four of us is likely to suffer some kind of mental health problems during our lifetime—. I think it’s very much the point about asking patients what matters rather than, ‘What is the matter?’ I’m very much of the view that I think we have to respect and treat the individual and the patient and not just the illness.
My husband’s a GP and he’s been social prescribing for almost two decades, mostly referrals to sport centres. But I think it’s important that we develop this further, and I’d like to focus just a few words on the opportunities to use social prescribing in relation to the arts. Now, as the health Secretary is aware, we’ve established a cross-party arts and health group within the Assembly and I’m very keen on this. I was chair of the Live Music Now charity and it was incredible to watch the transformation that came in care homes when we sent expert musicians in to play and to really have an impact and to raise the spirits of the people in those care homes. I think the Welsh Government actually has a very good record in relation to how arts impact on health: 50 per cent of the revenue funded organisations subsidised by the Arts Council of Wales are related to health in some way.
I look forward to welcoming the Cabinet Secretary to the next meeting of that cross-party group where we’ll be making a presentation to him and asking him to support the efforts to build a more robust evidence base to support arts and health in Wales. There is a huge amount of work, as I said, being undertaken already. The Welsh arts council is already in the process of collating the work that is already being done in Wales, and there needs to be, I think—