Conexus at the International Social Prescribing Network Conference 2019

After a busy few weeks on the road, we managed to grab a brew and a catch up with Conexus care navigation programme manager and social prescribing lead, David Cowan before he headed off for a well-deserved break!

Together with Debbie, Antony and Melissa in our team, David is currently head down in developing a Level 3 Qualification in Social Prescribing with Bromley-by-Bow Centre and the University of East London. He paused to escape the office and head to the International Social Prescribing Network Conference 2019 at the University of Westminster a couple of weeks ago. We caught up with him to hear how it went and what’s next for social prescribing at Conexus:

So David, tell us about the conference and who was there
This was the second International Social Prescribing Network Conference and brought together the latest research and thinking on social prescribing from around the world along with how it’s going in the UK.

There was such a great section of key speakers from Canada, the Netherlands and even Singapore. I was particularly impressed with the analysis of healthier lifestyle choices linked to social prescribing Interventions presented by Dr Ornish MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California. He really captured the audience and inspired us with his insights.

And were you involved in the conference?
Yes – I’m part of the steering committee for the Social Prescribing Network so it was great to see fellow social prescribers. It never seems to feel like work! During day one, I facilitated an open space to give voice to ten different subjects on social prescribing which created a real buzz in the room on topics from green spaces and therapeutic interventions for social prescribing, to wider system integration of key stakeholders.

And were you able to share anything around the social prescribing qualification and the first group of social prescribers to complete that?
Absolutely – to say it’s only just finished, it still amazes me just how much we achieved and how much we learnt as one of the partners delivering this. It was incredibly moving to hear the impact it’s made to the learners in their everyday work especially as they trusted us to take them through this brand new course.

Lecturers from the course gave a presentation on day two of the conference sharing our collective experiences and how this can help develop the future link worker workforce, who are funded through the NHS Long Term Plan.

I’m really looking forward to my break but I have to confess, I can’t wait to speak to all the delegates we met at the conference who are interested in joining the next training cohort.

And if you had to sum up something or someone that stood out over the two days for you?
There’s too many to mention but one great thing really stuck with me from Dr Ornish’s presentation. He said:

‘love enhances immunity’. People who lead active lives, 3.5 hours a week of exercise or more, eat a plant-based diet, don’t smoke and are loved have so many health benefits, which can be linked to social prescribing interventions. We need to create a joy of living rather than a fear of dying to support behaviour change.

Learn more about social prescribing support from Conexus and its partners here.