Social prescribing for aging research and knowledge

The Gerontology Research Centre (GRC) Social Prescribing for Aging Research and Knowledge (SPARK) project addresses the needs of older adults through intersectoral partnerships and fostering integration in community and health care systems. Social prescribing links together client referrals, social care and research knowledge. This model incorporates and extends individual-based tailored prescribing approaches by connecting the individual to community and system-level contexts. Founded on a strength-based resilience and aging theoretical model, social prescribing recognizes older people as active agents in their health and well-being, who can harness a spectrum of social, technological and community resources. The SPARK project is unique in its generation of new research and knowledge via leveraging ongoing research clusters linked to the GRC. It builds on and extends prior work in this developing area based on the following principles. 1) Older adults as clients are embedded in social and caregiving networks, thus interventions need to transcend the individual. 2) Social prescriptions include a wide range of social, environmental, public health and well being approaches. 3) Navigation within a complex set of community and health care systems requires individual, community and system-level integration. 4) Surveillance and data tracking of health trajectories and pathways using big data (e.g., Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging, and administrative and other data linkage) are needed to fill knowledge and care gaps and improve care delivery. 5) Research into the development, implementation and evaluation of social prescribing interventions needs to be prioritized. The Integrated GRC Social Prescribing Research Clusters are listed above.