This Social Prescribing Day Hannah McLennan discusses the Power of Music To Support Health and Wellbeing

09.03.2023: UK Music’s Health and Wellbeing lead Hannah McLennan marks Social Prescribing Day by outlining how the music industry and health professionals can work together to ensure everyone gets access to music for their health.

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09.03.2023: UK Music’s Health and Wellbeing lead Hannah McLennan marks Social Prescribing Day by outlining how the music industry and health professionals can work together to ensure everyone gets access to music for their health. 

Social Prescribing Day is an annual celebration that recognises health professionals, local community groups and the regional and national organisations that support people’s health and wellbeing through social prescribing.  

Social prescribing is a non-medical referral option, which allows health professionals (generally known as social prescribing link workers) to refer patients to support in the community. This can include physical activity, nature or the arts, and is backed by research (find out more here).  

I know a little about the power of social prescribing myself. When I was eleven, I spent about a year of my life in and out of Great Ormond Street Hospital, where I was eventually diagnosed with a rare form of Juvenile Arthritis.  

Whilst my overriding memories should be of doctors’ tests, drugs, and dodgy hospital food, the memories that always stand out to me are the days I spent learning about plants, doing science experiments or playing instruments with the other in-patients. This non-medical care was often the highlight of my day and a much-needed way to get my body moving and mind distracted from the other treatments I was on. 

When applied alongside traditional medicine, social prescribing can be a healthier and more cost-effective way of treating a huge number of ailments. 

Last year UK Music and our partners, Music for Dementia, released the Power of Music report, which set out a plan for how music can be harnessed to improve our health, wellbeing and communities.  

The report highlights the need to build upon important initiatives, such as social prescribing, to tackle the serious problem of overprescribing in health systems. Overprescribing is where people are given medicine they may not want or need, instead of having their care tailored to their individual needs. It’s a problem which has dramatically grown over the last 25 years. 

Our Power of Music report included a number of recommendations that would help boost opportunities for social prescribing across the UK. 

Firstly, we called for the creation of a dynamic, interactive online resource to bring together information, science, music and training to help integrate music into existing models of health and care.  

We think the resource could become an important tool in supporting the social prescribing agenda – connecting people with services and activities in their local communities.  

The great news is that Universal Music Group, have taken on this task and are currently developing Music Can, a new hub for all this and more. 

Secondly, the report suggested that there needs to be better integration between the health and social care sectors around the inclusion of music. More needs to be done to ensure that everyone has equal access to a musical social prescription.  

NHS Trusts and local authorities need to design their commissioning plans and care pathways to include music, in a way which is culturally inclusive and reaches a diverse audience and all relevant institutions should implement a commitment to include a music offer.  

Thirdly, to further ensure integration across the health and social care systems, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) should explicitly expect services and settings to include music as part of their care. 

This will also help boost morale within care homes. As respondents shared with us in our Power of Music survey (here, page 16), introducing music can help both residents and staff feel better, making care homes into places of music, creativity and community. 

UK Music, Music for Dementia and the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) are now working together to achieve these aims, but we need the backing of the Government.  

We are calling for Government to appoint a Power of Music commissioner to champion music for health and wellbeing and coordinate the health, social care and music sectors to work together. This individual would be a key figurehead for driving forward the brilliant work already being done and finding new opportunities for us to bring music and social prescribing to those who need it the most. 

In a year where Eurovision is uniting us by music, we think that the appointment of a commissioner would be a fantastic legacy for the government to take forward. 

Read the Power of Music report here. Power-of-Music-Report-Final-Pages.pdf ( 

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