1st ever national social prescribing link worker day 8th July 2019

A national day to celebrate and showcase the contribution of social prescribing link workers in improving population health and wellbeing. This coincides with the 1st ever national social prescribing link worker conference taking place in London.

Who can participate?
• Anyone who has directly benefited from being supported by a link worker or social prescribing scheme
• Anyone who has witnessed in any other way the difference social prescribing brings to individuals/communities
• Anyone who thinks it may support them or a family member in the future

Including but not limited to:
• Social prescribing link workers
• Patients
• Families
• Carers
• Social prescribing schemes and suppliers
• GPs & Health Clinicians
• Allied Health Professionals
• Social Prescribing related volunteers
• Commissioners
• Academics

How can you participate?

A. Celebrate & showcase

1. Answer in not more than 200 characters or record video no longer than 1 minute
highlighting how a link worker and/or social prescribing has helped you or might help you or has helped your patient or user?

– You can use the opportunity to celebrate and showcase your local social prescribing scheme, primary care network and link workers as appropriate

2. Post your answer on twitter, Facebook, Instagram as appropriate using #linkworkerday19 #GlueInHSC on 8th July 2019

3. To showcase your answers in our online gallery, national conference & brochure and social media channels on 8th July 2019, please send your answers to michelle@connectlink.org by 3rd June 2019
Please include:
o Your name
o Twitter handle, if applicable
o Indicate your connection to social prescribing (e.g. carer, patient, GP, social prescribing link worker, commissioners, manager, etc)

B. Raise awareness
1. Use the official social media, logo, email kits for your profile to raise awareness and to create your own swag including t-shirts, fliers etc.

2. Use #linkworkerday19 #glueinhsc on social media

Spotlight: Occupational Therapist and Social prescribing link worker partnership working

A social prescribing link worker is a ‘trusted resource’ that can help multidisciplinary teams (MDTs), including occupational therapists, deliver seamless holistic services to patients.

We partnered with the Royal College of Occupational Therapists to spotlight Occupational Therapist (OT) and Social prescribing link worker partnership working in order to increase understanding of the role link workers can play in MDTs.

Read extracts from the OT news article:

Make the most of the ‘trusted resource’ of link workers

How our member, Reading Voluntary Action is working with occupational therapist referrals to give people the community support they need

Further information:

www.connectlink.org

email info@connectlink.org

link worker report
www.rcot.co.uk/news/occupational-therapy-role-social-prescribing

How to recruit the right social prescribing link worker

In order to increase social prescribing success, organisations need to recruit the right link worker who will help achieve the desired patient outcomes.

Link workers role involves building trust and relationships. Therefore, the right person needs to be recruited to have positive impacts on patients.

Recruiting the right link worker is about:

Firstly, you will need to get the foundation right before recruiting:

  1. Do you fully understand the role you are trying to recruit? Can you describe what makes the role unique?
  2. Do you know the local problem that you are solving?
  3. Do you know the outcomes you seek?
  4. Do you know what is required to achieve the outcomes?

If you are not too sure about 1-4 or need support recruiting the right link worker, get in touch with us.

The 1st ever national social prescribing link worker conference coincides with link worker day, 8th July 2019. It will be a national day of sharing, learning and network for primary care networks, existing and future social prescribing schemes.

Social prescribing link worker report release

Social prescribing link worker report release
14th March 2019

The National Association of Link Workers today released it’s getting to know the link worker workforce: understanding link workers knowledge, skills, experiences and support needs report

Link workers are the workforce that are critical to delivering the NHS Long Term Plan social prescribing ambitions.

Link workers enable GPs, primary care networks, mental health trusts, social and community care organisations to deliver holistic services to patients. A link worker ensures patients get help for their non-clinical holistic needs.

The role of a link worker is still relatively new and as such this is the 1st ever report to highlight the knowledge, skills, experiences and support needs of existing link workers.

As NHS England has committed to funding the recruitment and training of over 1,000 social prescribing link workers to be in place by the end of 2020/21, rising further so that by 2023/24 all staff within GP practices have access to a link worker and as there are plans to mainstream social prescribing across the UK: this presents an opportunity to be informed about setting the new recruits up for success.

“we are committed to ensuring there is equitable access to support for link workers regardless of their employer or geographical location in order to realise positive social prescribing outcomes for patients”
Christiana Melam-CEO of the National Association of Link Workers

For further information and enquiries

Join the twitter conversation using #linkworkerreport

Contact: Michelle Porthouse, michelle@connectlink.org

National Association of Link Workers

Social prescribing link worker: 3 things primary care networks should do to increase successful delivery

Social prescribing is a win win situation for primary care networks and their local population. Supported and resilient link workers are a trusted resource that can help general practice to help their patients with non-clinical needs, allowing GPs to focus on what they can do – their patients’ clinical needs. Link workers are an integral part of the primary care network team, delivering holistic service to patients and improving the health of the local population.

3 things primary care networks should do to increase successful delivery:

  1. Ensure the link worker’s role is interpreted same way not only in primary care but across the STP and nationally
  2. Ensure the link worker’s role is embedded in local workforce transformation and integrated care approaches
  3. Ensure link workers training is not disjointed but based on the link worker competency framework

 

This will ensure efficiency and consistency which will yield higher return on investment and patient experience.

The 1st ever national social prescribing link worker success conference holds on 8th July.

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Get involved: top tips for social prescribing day

Social prescribing is a key part of the NHS long term plan and universal personalised care. It is a way of enabling people to have access to the right support for their wellbeing and social needs through referral to a listening and non-judgemental expert called a link worker; who listens to what matters to them in order to help them identify their own solutions. Save the date, 8th July is #linkworkerday19, a day to celebrate link workers- A.KA listening experts.

March 14 is a day to raise public awareness of social prescribing. Whether you an individual or an organisation, you can do something to raise awareness within your network and community.

Here are 5 ideas to get involved:

Get involved on social media using #socialprescribingday

Give free talks at community events or within your network

Host online/in person live events. You can do this yourself or in partnership with others

Hold an Information stall

Create and distribute pamphlets

Examples of where to raise awareness:

Libraries

Social media

Local newspapers and radio

Your network (friends, family, colleagues )

Local community groups

Schools

Sports club/Gym/ leisure centres

Local businesses/organisations

GP surgeries

Hospitals

Newsletters

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For further information
Social prescribing day

NHS England

Link worker network

National Association of Link Workers response to universal personalised care

We welcome the universal comprehensive care implementation model as it demonstrates a radical shift from the status quo. Having been co-produced with patients and communities. Finally, the NHS recognises that its role is to facilitate, enable patients and communities (the experts) to come up with solutions to their concerns and to not dictate the solutions. The delivery challenge would be to ensure that this power shift is sustained and continues to be the case. As ever, we are committed to collaborating with partners to support link workers who are the new workforce at the heart of the universal personalised care delivery.

Our link worker members are listening experts’ who help build people’s resilience and capability to take control of their health and wellbeing. They enable people have access to support for their holistic needs and facilitate social inclusiveness by listening to them. This role is highly complex; it requires robust link worker support provision, on the job learning and evidence of continuous professional development. As patients listening experts,  the link worker community of practice expect same; to be listened to, not to be professionally excluded and to be supported in order to help others; this is the reason for our existence as an association.

Link workers are the only workforce across health and social care whose dedicated job is largely to listen to what matters to people. Therefore, if someone is not good at listening to people stories or isn’t approachable, a link worker’s  job will be inappropriate regardless of professional qualifications and accreditations. Here is what a current link worker said

“In order for me to have a good relationship with my client that I am working with they need to feel comfortable talking to me. It makes no difference how skilled I am or how willing the client is to engage, if they don’t feel comfortable working with me, talking to me, or sharing their problems with me then I am not likely to be very successful in keeping them engaged and completing any tasks that have been identified for support”

With the increased interest in the link worker role and the fact that it is not a regulated profession, it is crucial that the essence of the role and social prescribing is preserved; which is a dedicated person to listen to what matters to patients, enabling them have access to their solutions and facilitating social connectedness.  This is the reason the over 1000 new link workers need to join their peers inorder to reduce risk of inconsistencies in professional standards across the country and to be supported .

If social prescribing is designed correctly, it will mainstream joined up care once & for all, which will be good for patients and the health and social care system. Therefore, we would expect local delivery teams to co-produce effective patient pathways to empower link workers so that they are efficient in their role.

We welcome the commitment to increasing link worker capacity. 5 link worker per primary care network is a good start. However, capacity will need to be increased, especially with the various link worker access points including self-referrals. A robust and effective voluntary and community sector infrastructure is also required to enable efficient delivery in order for link worker to hold a minimum case load of 200-250 per year’. Primary care networks ought to be supported to increase link worker capacity based on their local population need and as required; some may require more than 5 link workers to manage 200-250 case load per year. The consequences of inaction regarding increasing link worker capacity would include;

  • The link worker’s job becoming unattractive due to the unmanageable workload and burnout. Some link workers are already suffering burnout. Look after us to look after you.

“I am actually managing caseloads and not just signposting, it can be overwhelming”

  • Lack of patient confidence and poor patient outcomes. Patients resulting to the default; accessing clinical support for non-clinical need due to link worker waiting list. Some areas operate a link worker waitlist.

“I have asked the GP to stop referring patients until I have managed to finish supporting those that have been referred, we need more link workers”

  • Poor patient experience arising from link worker not empowered to have time to listen and to support the person. Here is what a link worker said is important

“the most important thing that I can do is to listen to someone – if I don’t listen there is no point in my link worker role”

Overall, universal personalised care is a welcomed aspiration. It is important that organisations understand how complex and crucial the link worker role is. And therefore, fully commit to supporting link workers so they can be effective in their role. Our link worker success conference coincides with Link worker day on 8th July.

For further comments and questions, please email info@connectlink.org

5 tips to developing a community centred social prescribing service

Social prescribing is about adopting a community development approach:

• Seeing the community as part of the solution and not the problem.
• Power shifting to the community to do something for itself.
• Engaging with the community in order to empower them.
• Citizen power rather than tokenistic or consultative engagement.

Arnstein, Ladder of Citizen Participation (1969).

5 tips to developing a community centred social prescribing service

• Identify the problem you are going to use social prescribing to solve
• Find out the real influencers in the community. This could be individually who do not usually get involved
• Go out to the community to earn some credibility and build trust
• Co-produce solutions with the community
• Empower the community to deliver the solutions

Save the date: 8th July 2019 is a day to celebrate social prescribing link workers nationally.

Are you a social prescribing link worker or a social prescribing organisation? Join the only professional membership network of link workers and their employers to realise your FULL potential.

Questions, enquiries and comments are welcome, please email info@connectlink.org

National Association of Link Workers responds to NHS Long Term Plan

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.

1) The role of a link worker needs to be correctly understood by all.

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.

Questions, enquiries and comments are welcome, please email info@connectlink.org

Social Prescribing link worker: 5 ways to boost client attendance

If you’re working in the field of Social Prescribing and seeing clients, you may have had days or even weeks where some or many people don’t show up. One piece of research has suggested that deprivation is the biggest driver of missed GP appointments (Lancet, Dec ’17) so it makes sense that Social Prescribing clients can sometimes be difficult to engage.

Here are 5 ideas that have helped me boost client attendance so that more people can benefit from our service

1) The telephone; it’s how you use it! It’s likely your first contact with the client will be on the phone. Here are some tips that have helped me to engage with my clients successfully. Getting hold of a client: Some people don’t answer unknown numbers, so you can text ahead to introduce yourself then call shortly after, or leave a voicemail or text asking them to get back to you (texting seems to trump voicemail nowadays!). OK, maybe this sounds too obvious, but it can be a tricky business! Ask: “Do you think a face to face appointment would be useful for you?” Ask this rather than going straight ahead and booking them in for an appointment they may not really be committed to attending. Telephone signposting: If your client’s needs are clear then simply assist them over the phone with the information they need to save time for both of you. Telephone appointments: These are great if your client has certain barriers (see point 2). Timing is everything: Use the information you have about the client to judge when might be the best time to first call. Maybe they are busy because of school runs or work or they are retired or unemployed. For me, overall I find more people answer late morning!

2) Discuss your client’s barriers. Our clients can feel that lots of things are holding them back, which is partly why they are seeking support (or the GP has recommended it). These barriers may stop them at the first hurdle from even attending a social prescribing appointment. Try to find a time, place and type of appointment that best suits your client (as far as you have the resources). Are they a morning person? They can have the 9am slot! Are they afraid of busy waiting rooms? Find out the least busy time for the practice (if practice based). Do they have a school run to do? Do they work 9–5pm or nights? Are they afraid of leaving the house? Do they have a bus to catch which is better at a certain time of day? Does that cost them money? Are they a carer? All of these factors might mean that someone misses an appointment or disengages completely, so be frank and try to get a sense of these within your first appointment with your client

3) Text an appointment reminder the day before. Sounds simple and many of you probably already do this, because often people forget or haven’t written down their appointments, but I’ve found that wording the message to promote accountability can actually make a difference! For example, I used to write something like ‘Hi ……just a quick reminder of your appointment tomorrow at 2pm at …..Surgery, Best wishes, Will’ and now I write ‘Hi….appointment confirmed for tomorrow at 2pm at ….Surgery. See you tomorrow. Will’. Perhaps the first one is too casual but since using the second one, fewer clients have texted me back to say ‘Sorry I can’t make it’ and more have attended, I think because it sounds more formal. So if you’re getting lots of no shows, try playing with your wording!

4) Sense your client’s commitment. After the first appointment, I always try to ask the client two questions. “Was that helpful today?” and “Would it be useful for you to have another appointment?” Of course, I also say what I think might be useful for them but it’s a joint decision. If you sense the client is being polite or hesitant and just re-booking because they think they should, then try to be open and say that it really is only if they think it would help them. After the first appointment they may still not be quite ready to get support or set goals, or it may not be for them.

5) Book short and long slots. I used to book 45 minute slots for all of my clients, but then if one doesn’t arrive that’s a lot of time wasted. Now I book 20 minute slots and 45 minute slots. The shorter slots work well for follow ups and more regular clients and the longer ones for new clients. I also ask the client which length of appointment they would prefer. This means I can book more clients in per day and if any don’t show up then it’s not as much of a problem.

Of course, managing our client case-loads is a bit of an art and it depends on the types of clients you’d like to engage. Here in Bristol, we are working in the areas of deprivation as part of a citywide Public Health backed project. I hope that in sharing my experiences you’ve picked up something useful and would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and best practice

Will Ship

Social Prescribing Link Worker Southmead Development Trust

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