How Social Prescribing is different to Active Signposting, Care Navigation and MECC

Social Prescribing, Active Signposting, Care Navigation and MECC are types of link working.

The common purpose is to help improve health and wellbeing. However, there are overlaps and key differences between them.

Source: The King’s Fund (Source: Dahlgren, G. and Whitehead, M. (1993) Tackling inequalities in health: what can we learn from what has been tried?)

Firstly, before we explore the differences, let’s recap what each means.

Types of link working

Active Signposting

A type of care navigation. Asking for a little bit more information of patients.

To help correctly and quickly, at the first point of contact, signpost to the right professionals, services or activities (Source: NHS England Primary Care Development)

Making Every Contact Count (MECC)

An approach to behaviour change that utilises the millions of day to day interactions that organisations and individuals have with other people.

To support them in making positive changes to their physical and mental health and wellbeing (Source: Health Education England)

Social Prescribing
Sometimes referred to as community referral, carried out by a link worker or navigator.

It’s a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services in order to provide high quality, holistic care (Source: The King’s Fund)

Care Navigation
Helping people to get the right support, at the right time to help manage a wide range of needs.

This may include support with long term conditions, help with finances and signposting to a range of statutory and voluntary sector services (Source: Health Education England).

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The types of link working above compliment social prescribing. There are overlaps and key differences between them.

The table below highlights the overlap and key differences

Role in behaviour change Active Signposting MECC Care Navigation Social Prescribing
Signposting to right care & support Yes Yes Yes Yes
Type of contact with the person Opportunistic (when the opportunity arises) Opportunistic (when the opportunity arises) Mainly referral and sometimes opportunistic (drop in sessions) Mainly referral and sometimes opportunistic (drop in sessions)
Case load management X X Yes Yes
Behaviour change discussion X Yes Yes Yes
Time spent with the person Very brief/brief(1-5mins) one off Very brief/brief(1-5mins) one off Support for longer (days/times) Support for longer (days/times)
Point of contact X X Yes Yes
Follow up support X X Yes Yes
Set goals with the person X X Yes Yes
Co-produce action plan X X Yes Yes
Social Prescription X X X Yes
Knowledge & competence Essential Essential Enhanced Enhanced

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