OPEN: To accelerate economic and social impact of NERC science in human health and wellbeing by improving and targeting knowledge exchange (EXTENSION)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Biosciences

Abstract

About this proposal
This proposal is to extend an existing project for a year from September 2015. The project has developed working partnerships between: academics in different disciplines; charities, CICs and small businesses in nature conservation and interpretation; and the health system, particularly GP surgeries. The work has been concentrated in Cornwall. The aim has been to bring these different groups together so that they can learn what each has to offer, to answer questions about knowledge gaps, and to design and pilot new collaborative schemes. Project partners are all interested in the idea that referrals to, or prescriptions for, regular engagement with nature can help reduce chronic health conditions, improve wellbeing, and reduce costs to the health service. The nature prescription activities have been co-ordinated under the overarching banner of 'Dose of Nature'.

The project has been running for 18 months, and has proved very popular. This proposal is to allow the current project to grow and to deliver some larger impacts that the original project did not foresee.

What are the potential gains?
Patients and organisations that have been involved in the pilots to date have identified gains in terms of personal health and wellbeing, reduced visits to the GP, and less drug use. We now need to know: the environmental gains and impacts of such work; how the cost savings be translated into income for nature management work; and how many jobs can be safeguarded or created through nature prescription?

What's been achieved in the first 18 months?
Six Dose of Nature projects have been designed, co-delivered, and are receiving referrals from primary care. They are collecting standardised data in changes in wellbeing. Blogs, articles, presentations and talks have raised publicity. Academic papers have been commissioned and submitted. Detailed research questions have been refined. Local, regional and national stakeholders have been engaged and potential additional work identified.

What next?
To realise this potential the following activities will be delivered (see Work Plan):

- Build a new research programme. A proposal to PenCLAHRC, the south west region's partnership between the NHS and the region's universities to look at improving patient outcomes, has already been accepted. A proposal to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has been shortlisted and accepted for development. An application to the Eden Project Collaboration Fund has been submitted. This proposal will allow all of these activities to be taken forewards. In addition the project will be involved in the imminent call for proposals to the Valuing Nature Programme (VNP - a multidisciplinary initiative), and this extension will ensure project integration. A paper to be submitted to The Lancet is in early draft.

- Making a bigger impact. By summer 2016 we will have the data, research and a wide enough practitioner network to run the UK's first 'Nature Prescription Summit'. The aim will be to bring Defra, the RSPB, the Eden Project, NIHR, DoH, VNP, King's Fund, researchers and knowledge exchange specialists together with our practitioner network, to report on progress and plan for the future. We also want to carry out new Environmental Impacts and Health Economics Projects, launch a Commissioning Guide, and present our work to Defra's health and wellbeing project.

- Expand the network. We have identified new nature prescription partnerships in Exeter and Torbay (Devon Wildlife Trust), Weymouth (RSPB) and Bristol (Avon Wildlife Trust and a series of community gardens) to repeat the current project model in urban contexts. In addition we will run two new groups in Cornwall that will be funded from the health budget, a vital next step. We also want to expand the network via a webinar alongside the Ecosystems Knowledge Network, and by engaging with the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Fellows.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description A number of issues concerning the application of natural sciences to the health and wellbeing sector, as follows:

- common natural science outcomes (e.g. biodiversity increases, environmental quality enhancements) CAN be delivered alongside health and wellbeing outcomes (patient health, public health), IF inter-sectoral partnerships are open about their expectations, and provide the resources - principally, time - to co-design interventions on the ground.

- the environment sector is, very broadly speaking, more adept and more willing to work on nature-based interventions for health than the health sector (broadly defined) is willing to send patients with referrals to such interventions. This sis partly because many in the environmental sector have been working with such individuals and groups for some time, but not necessarily describing their work (often with volunteer groups) as nature-based interventions for health. They tend to be less risk averse.

- in situations where no money is likely to flow towards the environmental sector from the health sector (as is commonly and currently the case), projects can still happen because long-term gains (e.g. raised awareness in the local population of the value of healthy ecosystems for personsal wellbeing, and thus greater appreciation of broader conservation goals) can be captured and measured.

- realising the ecosystem services provided by biodiversity for health, in monetary terms, is a feasible, valid, useful and timely objective.
Exploitation Route This award led directly to a Valuing Nature Programme placement and a NERC innovation internship. Both are about consolidating the findings by creating a new service model for nature-based interventions for health, and involve a close, reciprocal partnership with a local authority, the Clinical Commissioning Group and GP surgery coalitions.

At the same time the findings are being used within NHS South CPD training programmes, as well as presentations to Local Nature Partnerships in the region.
Sectors Environment,Healthcare

URL http://www.adoseofnature.net
 
Description To support, develop, train and grow a body of practitioners able to use the nature and human health and wellbeing literature, and to assist a range of local public bodies in commissioning services, working with research findings, and changing their delivery models.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Environment,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Dose of Nature Phase 2 partnership 
Organisation Devon Wildlife Trust
PI Contribution Three new pilot partnerships in Cornwall, Exeter and Bristol. Setting up, financing, providing guidelines and best practice advice.
Collaborator Contribution Running, facilitating, gathering prime patient data.
Impact Ongoing - new data, three long-terms groups, information into BPG
Start Year 2015
 
Description Dose of Nature Phase 2 partnership 
Organisation Southmead and Henbury Family Practice
PI Contribution Three new pilot partnerships in Cornwall, Exeter and Bristol. Setting up, financing, providing guidelines and best practice advice.
Collaborator Contribution Running, facilitating, gathering prime patient data.
Impact Ongoing - new data, three long-terms groups, information into BPG
Start Year 2015
 
Description Dose of Nature Phase 2 partnership 
Organisation The Wildlife Trusts
Department Avon Wildlife Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Three new pilot partnerships in Cornwall, Exeter and Bristol. Setting up, financing, providing guidelines and best practice advice.
Collaborator Contribution Running, facilitating, gathering prime patient data.
Impact Ongoing - new data, three long-terms groups, information into BPG
Start Year 2015
 
Description Eden Collaboration Project 
Organisation The Eden Project
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Working alongside staff at Eden on a jointly funded project to examine Eden's potential role in reducing preschool obesity.
Collaborator Contribution Running two workshops and community engagement events. Literature review.
Impact Two workshops Literature review Community engagement exercise
Start Year 2015