SingHealth seeks to boost ‘social prescribing’ expertise as Singapore moves towards preventive health

“It’s really important to support people’s living conditions and the kind of behavior they follow and the lifestyle they need in the community.”

To address such social factors, new skill sets are needed, Prof Lee said at the inaugural Asia Pacific Social Prescribing Conference.

To this end, SingHealth has introduced Wellness Coordinators, who are embedded non-clinical staff in clinical teams to identify and support the patients they encounter social risk factors that may affect their health outcomes.

The social prescription program benefited almost 1,000 patients.


The cluster also aims to train 600 health and community care workers annually through a new arm, the SingHealth Community Hospitals Office of Learning.

It will stimulate social prescribing efforts, for example by an educational program he created with Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

The Health and Social Care Co-ordinator course, which is open to people from different social backgrounds, equips students with the skills and knowledge to support social prescribing and work in multidisciplinary teams of social and health professionals.

One of the course participants is Ms Caral Goh, who is now a part-time coordinator of patient activity at Sengkang Community Hospital.

Before that, the former editor of a meditation and health magazine thought interacting with patients seemed like fun, she said. After attending the course, she learned the purpose of such activities under the concept of social prescription.

“I’ve learned to actively engage, actively listen to build trust with patients so we can learn about their social determinants of health. This will require a lot of trust,” she said.

SingHealth will also involve GPs in future workshops on this topic.

There are other efforts underway to spread the concept of social prescription. For example, it was introduced to the Duke-NUS medical school curriculum this year.


Speaking at the conference organized by SingHealth and SingHealth Community Hospitals, Minister for Social Services Integration Desmond Lee said that as Singapore moves towards preventive health, social factors, “which are sometimes not easy to pin down”, must be be addressed.

Individuals and families with the most complex needs often face interconnected challenges involving various issues, including social, health and family issues, he noted.

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