Doctors can now prescribe free visits to the ROM

The ROM will be issuing a total of 5,000 passes throughout 2019

A new wellness movement called “Social Prescribing” aims to treat patients that experience social isolation, loneliness, low income, barriers to employment, or other issues that impact their quality of living.

As a result, doctors are beginning to issue a prescription for their patients for things like exercise classes, nature walks, adult choirs, and pottery lessons.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is funding a pilot program that aims to test this approach with the Alliance for Healthier Communities that represents 107 primary health care organizations across Ontario. The program began in September 2018, and will run through until December 2019, and is supposed to connect patients with local, non-clinical services to supplement or even replace their medical and pharmaceutical treatments.

In the U.K., social prescribing has been very beneficial. “Clients have improved mental health, are less isolated or lonely, and are more physically active,” Alliance wrote on its website.

The project is taking place at 11 different community health centres across the province. Although none of them are in Toronto, doctors in the city may soon be able to do some social prescribing thanks to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM).

The ROM’s Community Access Network is partnering with the Alliance for a pilot of its own Social Prescription Program, set to begin in January 2019.

The service will allow thousands of people from across Ontario visit the ROM free of charge. In fact, a total of 5,000 passes (each valid for 4 people) will be issued throughout 2019 for people who have a referral from an “associated ROMCAN healthcare, community, or social service professionals,” the ROM announced according to blogTO.

Starting in January, 20 different ROMCAN providers will run the program, including the Rexdale Community Healthcare Centre, and it will eventually be rolled out to all of the museum’s community partners like the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto, CAMH, Autism Ontario, and Sick Kids.