A Green Prescription Rōngoa Kākāriki is a free health and wellness support service available throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.
Who are Green Prescriptions for?
Green Prescriptions are for any adult 18 years and over, anywhere in the country, who wants to improve their wellbeing. There are also programmes for your whole whānau (Active Families) and if you are pregnant (Maternal Green Prescriptions).
It's easy in a busy life with lots of demands on your time and not much money to spare to get into the habit of putting yourself and your needs last. You may also have had trauma and abuse, addiction or mental health issues, or live with a long-term condition or disability. All these things can make it harder to take good care of yourself.
A Green Prescription is a way to get support to make some changes and take charge of your health and wellbeing. You get your own support person to work with you to achieve your goals. They know about courses, programmes and other services available in your area. You can also meet other people in your community who are taking steps to improve their health and wellbeing. This means you get personal attention and also the opportunity for more social connection.
Once you receive your Green Prescription, a trained support person will get in touch. Their role is to listen to what your needs are and then support you to make the lifestyle changes you want.
They will work with you to identify your goals.
Together you can then work out a plan for achieving your goals.
They will help you set goals that are achievable and sustainable.
They know about the resources, services and programmes available in your area.
You will have regular check-ins with your support person so they can keep supporting and encouraging you.
There’s also the chance to meet and join other people in your community who are choosing to make changes to improve their health and wellbeing.
What are some of the things people do with a Green Prescription?
With a Green Prescription, you can get support to be more active, take steps to improve your physical and mental health, and to manage a long-term health condition.
A key part of the Green Prescription is to help you get more active. This may be through a structured course or programme at your local gym, swimming pool, marae or community centre, or it may just be getting support to get going with a more active lifestyle such as through:
walking on your own or in a group
swimming or aqua fitness
gardening at your home or a part of a comjunity or marae garden project
playing with your family/whānau in the park or backyard
Being active is a key part of the Green Prescription programme because it helps with weight management, sleep and mental wellbeing, as well as improving your cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure. It can help you breathe better, have less pain and reduce your risk of falling, as well as make it less likely you will get some other health conditions, such as some types of cancer.
However, you may also want to use your Green Prescription to do other things, such as to find out about healthy eating and how to cook healthy kai. Other people also use their Green Prescription to get support with their mental health or increase their connection to others in their community. It's about getting support for what you need to improve your health and wellbeing. Activities can be in groups, one to one, or both.
Programmes been run by local Green Prescription providers include monthly sessions providing learning opportunities with cardiac nurses for those living with heart disease and atrial fibrillation, a free, indoor aqua session to find out about local community recreation centre, social cycle groups, healthy kay cooking demonstrations, group outings to climb Rangitoto Island and so on.
The Maternal Green Prescription programme offers support and goal setting for the health and wellbeing of you and your family/whānau from the time you get pregnant until after your pēpē is born. Watch these videos to find out more about the Maternal Green Prescription programme.
Active Families is a free programme to help you and your children/tamariki to get active and learn about healthy eating. Active Family coordinators support your family/whānauto set goals and get involved in programmes with fun, physical activities that children and parents can enjoy together. You also get meet other families/whānau. Find out more about the Active Families programme.
Rebecca, kaimahi for the Cancer Society in Whangarei, lives with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and atrial fibrillation. Respiratory conditions and diabetes affect many of her whānau and reducing her own risk is part of her motivation for change. Read more about how Rebecca is creating wellness on her own terms.
Idea Service’s Clyde Street whānau in Dargaville are having a great time with their group Green Prescription. Idea Services values the model of Te Whare Tapa Whā and one aspect of that is the importance of exercise for health and wellbeing. Read more about how the programme is empowering them to lead their own journey.
Green Prescription classes are run in 7 centres throughout the Sport Manawatu region. Each class promotes the importance of health and physical activity through discussions on topics such as diabetes, motivation and healthy eating. Activity options include a range of exercises from walking, aqua and the gym.
Find out more about the classes available on their website.
About Green Prescriptions (GRx)
Green Prescriptions (GRx) were established as a health professional’s written advice to a patient to be physically active, as part of the patient’s health management. However, Green Prescriptions can also be accessed directly by anyone who wants to get more active and improve their health.
While the focus is on physical activity, with all the benefits that brings, the programme also includes other services that support people to improve their health and wellbeing, such as healthy eating, mental wellbeing and increasing connection with others in their communities.
Sport Wellington put out this message to healthcare providers:
Green Prescription (GRx) is more than just a referral to discounted gym and swimming opportunities, and we need your help to turn the tide away from that perception. How we engage with individuals is varied, depending on the needs of the communities we serve.
As well as working with groups to improve social connectedness and link participants into local services, a large portion of the service is one-on-one face-to-face engagement. When you are referring to GRx, you are indicating your client is ready to explore what health and wellbeing changes are important to them, and this provides opportunity to work closely with a support worker to realise and support their own solutions for change.
Effectiveness of the Green Prescription programmes
Research shows that a Green Prescription (GRx) is an inexpensive way of increasing activity for sedentary people. The Green Prescription Active Families Survey 2018 found that 98% of participants were satisfied with the service, 85% of families were getting more active and 90% were improving their diet.