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Report shows awareness boost needed to increase uptake of green care

The growth of care farming on prescription and other exciting innovations in ‘green care’ is being stunted because commissioners and service users are unaware of the benefits.

 

That’s the verdict of a new study, commissioned by Natural England’s Outdoors for All Programme in partnership with Care Farming UK and the University of Essex, which recommends fresh measures to push care farming into the mainstream.

 

There are currently more than 250 care farming organisations in the UK (including city farms), which provide health, social and educational care services for vulnerable people. But the study found that despite more general awareness and increasing evidence of its benefits, commissioners and service users are still unaware of care farming as a treatment option, in particular for those with mental health issues and people living with dementia.

 

The current annual cost of mental illness in England is estimated at £105bn while dementia costs are predicted to treble to nearly £70bn in the next 30 years, so care farming has much to offer in terms of a low cost package of local services.

 

An earlier report identified that care farms have the capacity to provide services to 13,000 clients per week in the UK, offering significant scope for care farming to expand.  These unique strengths are behind Care Farming UK’s ambition to support the increase of the scale and number of care farms in England.

 

Key recommendations in the new report include setting up standardised measures in order to gather quality evidence of care farming’s effectiveness and impact and to make these more widely known. There will also be a drive to help care farmers bid for large-scale healthcare contracts, and Care Farming UK will work to ensure all care farmers adopt the care farming code of practice. 

 

Liz Newton, Director of Landscape, Access, and Geodiversity at Natural England said “This research is  an important example of the collaborative work that we are undertaking with partners to help build more resilient, coherent and accessible green care services, scaled to meet the demand from those with the greatest needs. With thousands of possible care farms across England, Care Farming UK’s ambition to expand care farming is very exciting and has the potential to offer a major low cost contribution to tackling the challenge of improving local service provision facing the NHS”.

 

Click here to download the full report: Expanding delivery of care farming services to health and social care commissioners - NECR194

 

For more information contact Ian Egginton-Metters on ian@farmgarden.org.uk or 01373 302 204