In August 2013, we asked library professionals to complete an initial evaluation survey of the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme. A summary of the survey findings is shown below.
The survey was completed by 85 respondents in 81 library authorities, representing 53% of the English public library network.
- 57% or 47 authorities reported that local demand for materials had been more or less as expected. A small number of authorities, 17% or 14, said that demand was less than expected, and only 8% or 7 authorities said that it had been greater.
- Over a third of authorities, 38%, said they would like to reorder materials. The most popular re-order time was September.
- Just under a third of authorities, 32%, said they would not like to reorder and 30% said they didn't know.
- There was some interest in the new resources proposed, the most popular new resources being stickers and landscape posters, followed by banners and dumpbins.
- Nearly all authorities surveyed, 99%, have purchased new book stock to support the scheme.
- 57% or 43 authorities are stocking books in every library including mobiles, 44% or 33 authorities are stocking titles in designated libraries. A further 13% or 10 authorities are including prison libraries in the scheme.
- 18% or 15 authorities, just under a fifth of the sample, have not yet distributed leaflets to partners. This may be because of planned launches later in the year to coincide with World Mental Health Day (10 October).
- 82% or 67 authorities have distributed materials. Of these, 39% or 32 authorities distributed materials themselves and 43% or 35 authorities had help from partner agencies.
- The majority of prescribing partnerships so far appear to be with GPs, with 70% or 54 authorities indicating that they are working with GPs on the scheme. Other library health partners include Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services and mental health trusts in 48% or 37 authorities, community mental health nurses in 29% or 22 authorities, and independent counsellors or therapists in 16% or 12 authorities. Additional named partners include third sector organisations, midwives and health visitors, occupational therapists, pharmacies, social services, wellbeing centres, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and health trainers.
- In terms of levels of interest, findings indicate that there are 1,127 prescribing GP practices interested in the scheme. This works out at an average of 25 practices per authority, although further analysis shows distribution to be much more varied. One authority reported interest from 460 GP practices whilst several others reported interest from just one.
- In addition, 53 IAPT services have expressed interest, along with 60 'other' prescribers.
- 15 authorities indicated interest from a further 396 prescribing practices but were uncertain who these were.
- In just over half of English library authorities there are therefore a total of 1,636 prescribing practices working with the scheme.
- While receipt of prescriptions should be treated with some caution as a measure of uptake, 33% or a third of authorities have already received prescriptions, while just over a third, 37%, have not, and a further 30% didn't know.
- Around a quarter or 26% of authorities have already been successful in securing local funding for the scheme, although three quarters, 74%, reported not having secured any additional resource. The most common source of support identified being local authority public health departments (16% or 11 authorities), followed by IAPT services (9% or 6 authorities) and CCGs (3% or 2 authorities).
- The majority of authorities who have received funding have received lower levels of support: 30% or 19 authorities received less than £6,000, only one authority received between £6,000 and £10,000, and two authorities more than £10,000.
- Three quarters, 75% or 18 authorities, said this funding was for the purchase of leaflets and posters, and 58% or 14 authorities that it had supported purchase of book stock. Three authorities had received funding for launches and three for events. Only one authority reported support for staffing.
- 32% or 24 authorities are not intending to launch Reading Well. Of the remainder, 43% or 33 authorities have already had a local launch, and 25% or 19 authorities are planning one in the near future.
- Comments suggest that most of these planned launches will happen in October linked to World Mental Health Day and the health hook of the Universal Reading Offer.
- The majority of authorities, three quarters or 76%, said they would be able to collect book issues of core list titles, 4% or three authorities indicated this would not be possible, and a further 20% or 16 authorities weren't sure.
- Authorities were less positive about whether they would be able to collect and analyse user feedback forms, with 22% or 17 authorities saying yes, 8% or 6 authorities saying no, and 70% or 55 being uncertain.
- 44% or 33 authorities said they would be willing to run evaluation focus groups, 36% or 27 authorities were unsure, and 20% or 15 authorities said that they wouldn't.
- Authorities were asked to prioritise targeted audiences for list development (marking 1 as the most important and 5 as the least important). An Alzheimer and dementia list had the highest rating average at 1.92, followed by children and young people at 2.19, carers at 2.53, physical health at 3.14 and addictions at 3.5.
- 77% or 59 authorities said that Reading Agency support for the scheme had been excellent or good, 19% or 15 authorities felt it had been acceptable and only 4% were unhappy with the service they had received.