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Nature prescriptions now available in Badenoch and Strathspey

16th May 2024

General Practitioners and other health and social care professionals in Badenoch and Strathspey can now prescribe nature-based activities to patients through the Park Authority’s nature prescriptions project, one of 20 projects that make up The National Lottery Heritage Fund-backed Cairngorms 2030 programme.

The nature prescriptions project is delivered in partnership with NHS Highland and supports people on an individual basis to connect with nature to feel better. Previous trials of nature prescriptions in Scotland demonstrated their effectiveness, with 71% of patients saying that they benefitted from their prescription and 91% of prescribing health professionals saying they would continue to offer nature prescriptions. Support is also available on a self-referral basis and people can be referred through GP surgeries in Grantown-on-Spey, Aviemore, Kingussie and Laggan. Once referred, people are put in touch with one of the Park Authority’s qualified Green Health Link Workers.

Louise Emslie, Green Health Link Worker at the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “There are many reasons or barriers that might prevent people from getting outside on a daily basis. This could be lack of time, low confidence, knowledge of the outdoors, access to transport, cost, physical ability or other health considerations. The nature prescriptions project aims to overcome some of these barriers and enable more people to benefit from nature in whatever way suits them best. Research also shows that health inequalities can play a large role in someone’s ability to spend time in green spaces.

“Being able to support people to connect with nature and the outdoors, many of whom may otherwise find that difficult, is a huge privilege. By listening to what their goals are and continuing to provide support through regular check-ins, we hope that any changes made will be positive and long-lasting for participants.”

Connecting with nature through a nature prescription is tailored to the individual and can include joining nature groups, physical activity outdoors, learning a new skill like gardening or wildlife identification, nature-based volunteering, relaxing in nature or connecting with nature at home. Whatever the person chooses to do, the Green Health Link Worker will support them to plan and achieve their personal goals.

A local resident who has benefitted from a nature prescription said: “I connected with Louise the Green Health Link Worker after a health crisis that shook my confidence with exercise. I really liked how our meetings happened while having walks in nature. I liked how this was done at a pace I was comfortable with and having a neutral space to talk about my concerns about my health and my confidence. I felt inspired after every meeting and more connected to what was possible for me and having a check-in after our first meeting meant I had something to aim for and this held me accountable to myself for making progress.

“Through my connection with the Green Health Link Worker, I feel more confident walking and being in nature, I have connected with forest bathing which has increased my feeling of being relaxed and connected and has introduced me to new friends.”

Local GP at Kingussie Medical Practice, Mary Cauldbeck, said: The introduction of nature prescriptions has been a helpful addition to local services. Nature prescriptions encourage those who would not naturally access the outdoors to do so in a supported way. This opens opportunities in the local environment. Being outdoors has a positive impact on general well-being and can be particularly beneficial for those with physical or emotional symptoms. The Green Health Link Workers have time to explore a patient’s needs and recommend tailored opportunities, accompanying them on their journey to exploring the benefits of the outdoors.”

If you, or someone you know, would benefit from a nature prescription, talk to your GP or visit one of the GP Practice websites below to self-refer.

People can also use the Think Health Think Nature directory resource to find opportunities to join nature-based groups in the area: Badenoch & Strathspey Nature | Think Health Think Nature

Inspired by the Gaelic word Dùthchas, Cairngorms 2030 is putting the power to tackle the nature and climate crisis in the hands of people who live, visit and work in the UK’s largest national park.

Over five years, the programme will see the Cairngorms become the UK’s first net zero national park, inspiring rural and urban communities throughout Scotland and beyond to take action and make a difference.

Across 20 long-term projects, we will:

  • Transform the way land is managed and used to benefit nature.
  • Empower communities to shape the future of their local area.
  • Make getting around the Cairngorms easier, safer and greener.
  • Foster healthier, happier communities with wellbeing at their heart.