We welcome the commitment to link workers in the NHS Long Term Plan ‘over 1,000 trained social prescribing link workers will be in place by the end of 2020/21 rising further by 2023/24’; especially as 8 July 2019 is link worker day, a day to celebrate and showcase the link worker profession to coincide with our flagship annual link worker success conference.
Key requirements for setting link workers training and link workers up for success.
2) To be successful in social prescribing link working, a link worker needs to have what we call the ‘link worker effect’:
– Right personality
– Right skills
– Right knowledge
– Right practice
Our code of practice for link workers will be launched at our conference on 8th July 2019.
3) Training should NOT be a ‘tick box’ exercise and should be linked to a career progression path. The training should help link workers carry out their role effectively. Link workers should NOT be under-trained in the core competencies that directly relates to their day to day role.
4) Link worker equity and fairness in pay should not be dependant on whether employed by a statutory or non statutory organisation; it should be based on the role responsibilities. Link workers are currently underpaid in relation to other similar roles; perhaps fuelled by a lack of understanding of the role complexities.
5) Employers need to enable positive link worker wellbeing, so link workers role model social prescribing and influence clients positively.
6) Manageable link worker workload. Over 1,000 is a good start but it is definitely not enough; waitlists are in operation in some schemes. Also, high staff turnover due to link worker burn out is becoming an issue. There are great examples of how patient participation groups are supporting paid link workers in order to manage workload; the role of volunteers in social prescribing needs to be recognised and supported.
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