How to set the social prescribing workforce up for success

We know that our health is affected by other ‘factors’ outside of healthcare, hence the need for social prescribing; to help tackle the ‘factors’ in order to improve a person’s overall wellbeing.

How to set the social prescribing workforce up for success:

I am very grateful I sign up, a well-constructed course for the target audience of GP Practice and voluntary and charitable staff involved with social prescribing or community navigation to develop new knowledge and skills to improve wellbeing- Link worker

Our FREE online course helps to:

  • Increase confidence and knowledge: understand link working
  • Be empowered: reduce risk and increase success in link working; role guidance
  • Understand opportunities: whole picture view. Link working career path

We will be digging deeper into this topic in another post, so stay tuned! In the meantime Get FREE members of The National Association of Link Workers

For further information, email info@connectlink.org

What you probably haven’t considered for social prescribing

The relevance and power of being connected

Social prescribing has a role to play in helping to inform and facilitate peer to peer support not only for those who are feeling isolated or lonely but for everyone who would benefit.

There are many things that people are able to handle as a community. We all want to feel supported. There is absolutely nothing in this world that comes close to the value of being connected to others who share similar interests, problems, issues & concerns. It is for this same reason that we are a membership organisation for link workers

Being alienated from your social group is something that happens very often when you are suffering from any kind of debilitating disease. This is something that can make people feel extremely depressed and unhappy. They feel like there is no one out there who can relate, and they even feel uncomfortable and angry when they see everyone else in their lives enjoying their health. These feelings can’t be helped, and they unfortunately create large gaps between people.

The good news is that social connectivity via online and offline has come to change that forever. Now people can find others who are suffering from their same problem or share similar interests. Forums, self help groups are extremely popular outside of social media networks and there are also pages and groups that are dedicated to all kinds of health issues. The point is that people can easily find a place where they can feel accepted and supported.

Having a community that you can see as the place to feel welcome and supported is extremely powerful. Online communities have become a huge part of this process with many groups that are dedicated to support for people who suffer from all kinds of physical and mental health issues.

Social prescribing can help encourage people to start making significant changes in their lives by facilitating social connections and signposting to appropriate support groups. These groups have given a large number of people the chance to find support and to stay motivated as they are dealing with their condition or issues.

Furthermore, it is also important that social prescribing workers are empowered and supported to not only survive but to thrive in the role. Become a member of the National Association of Link Workers

For further information on social prescriber and link worker development, empowerment and support, email info@connectlink.org

Useful links

https://www.selfhelp.org.uk/

https://healthunlocked.com/

https://membership.connectlink.org

How to attract and retain volunteer link workers

People volunteer for various reasons, therefore to attract and retain volunteer link workers, attention must be given to their reasons for volunteering.

Two broad categories of volunteer link workers.

1. Those of state pension age

2. Those NOT of state pension age

The needs of volunteers in the 2 categories may not be the same. For instance, category 2 volunteer link workers may not have a FREE freedom bus pass for travelling and may require travel subsistence.

To attract and retain volunteer link workers consider these 11 questions.

1. What mix of volunteers are you attracting and is the mix representative of the population you are serving?

2. How flexible is your volunteering programme?

3. Do you know your volunteer motivations and aspirations for volunteering?

4. How do you engage with volunteers and make them feel valued?

5. Is there an opportunity to return to volunteering?

6. What provision is available for volunteer subsistence? No volunteer should be out of pocket as a result of volunteering

7. Do you have a minimum period for volunteering? E.g. 6months

8. How attractive is your volunteering programme and what do volunteers get in return for volunteering? See link worker courses

9. What development opportunities and support are available for volunteers? See link worker courses

10. Are you utilising your volunteer skills and knowledge? You can actually create different roles to account for this if there is interest

11. How do you keep volunteers informed of impact and progress?

For more information on how to attract and retain volunteer link workers email info@connectlink.org or for link worker training visit https://elearning.connectlink.org

Link working trends that you need to be aware of

‘Link’ working connecting people to the right professionals, services and activities at the right time to contribute to their health and wellbeing.

Whilst a degree of application of the role has come and gone over the years, the role is newly being recognised for its potential value in all sectors.  

Why the new recognition? 

There’s new evidence to suggest that the role can help all sectors manage their common unrelenting struggle to deliver good service despite growing patient demand, over stretched budgets and a very fatigued workforce.

The pressure for a solution, quickly, means a dynamic and varied ‘link’ workplace is emerging, referring to service with different language, being carried out under different titles, with different roles, dependent on sector.  Some of the current service references include:

Social prescribing (sometimes referred to as community referral, carried out by a link worker or navigator, is 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)

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)

Link (existing well before any other role, designed to support people in identifying and navigating personalised innovative opportunities and solutions to support the self-management of their complex health and social care needs (source: Age UK).

Are the descriptions above ringing true to your experience?  Anything to add? Feel free to get in touch or leave comments below.

Whichever the service offering above, there’s no doubt that success of service offering is directly tied to the degree that those who deliver the role are set up for success! We’re here to help, should you need it.

5 point checklist for ‘Volunteer’ link workers

5 point checklist

Below is a list of what many of you have contributed, resulting in a co-produced 5 point checklist. (Note:  This is not an exhaustive.  Join in on the discussion!   Provide a comment to add or propose an edit.)

 

   1. KNOW yourself

  –    Your motivation for volunteering

 –    The role and scope of volunteer work you want

 –    Your ambitions

 –    Your abilities

 –    Your limitations

   Your boundaries

 –    Your measure(s) of success

 

   2. KNOW your organisation (provider of the service)

  –    Their purpose

 –    Their people

 –    Who they work with, their networks and how they are thought of in your community

 –    How they work

–    Their plan(s)

 –   Their accomplishment(s) and challenges

–   Their expectations of this role

 –  The support in place for this role

 

  3. KNOW your community

 –    Community culture

 –    Community way of working (processes, etc.)

–    Community plans

–    Community services

 –    Community networks

 

  4. KNOW the people you are to help

–    Their goals 

–    Their needs

     Their skills and experience

     The amount of help they will accept and wish to give

     Their current support and any gaps

 

  5. KNOW to network to accomplish all of the above well!

 

    To create a ‘connection’ of your own support with like-minded folks to ask questions of, exchange ideas with, gain tips and tools and sometimes a bit of refuge :-)) — JOIN our ‘connection link’ here

 

 What to KNOW more?  

 ‘Sign up’ to our newsletter and you get monthly latest news, events, meet ups and more. Unsubscribe at any time.

  Click below for links to key documents or sites that may be of interest.

–    Improving population health:  https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/what-does-improving-population-health-mean

–    Wigan-CLW-service-evaluation:  http://www.innovationunit.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Wigan-CLW-service-evaluation.pdf

–    Social prescribing:  what is it?  https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/social-prescribing

 

 

What every non-clinical ‘link’ worker must know

A non-clinical link worker role:  Some things to think about

The role of a non-clinical link worker isn’t new.  

What is new is the growing evidence that this type of role can play an invaluable part in helping to meet the national priority of ‘improving population health and wellbeing’.

Growing evidence is resulting in:

 

    New interest in the role:

    From organisations: those interested in providing a ‘link’ service and

    From people: those already performing a link worker role or are interested in considering the role (see our Non-Clinical Career Pathway).

    Need for clarification of the role:

    Currently the role is being referred to with different language, different titles dependent on the type of organisation (e.g. health care, social care and community or charity). (see our ‘Connect Link’ support:  roles and scope)

 

Some clarification:

The role of a link worker can be as a paid employee or as a volunteer (we’ll talk about a volunteer role in a different blog post as it brings with it its own unique set of considerations).

Whether as a paid or volunteer role, the function is the same:

Gain understanding and create access:  ‘connect’ and ‘link’

 

     “Spend time understanding clients’ individual situation, needs and aspirations and then

     Help them to access community based support and activities (e.g. peer support groups, debt counselling, housing assistance, etc.) and to utilise their own skills and experience through volunteering.  

     The expectation is that this type of support will help people be well and independent in the community, thereby, in time, reducing demand on primary and secondary care services and preventing the escalation of need.”  (source:  Wigan Community Link Worker (CLW) service)

 

    Click below for links to key documents or sites that may be of interest.

·          Improving population health:  https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/what-does-improving-population-health-mean

·        Wigan-CLW-service-evaluation:  http://www.innovationunit.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Wigan-CLW-service-evaluation.pdf

·        Social prescribing:  what is it?:  https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/social-prescribing