We welcome the publication of the loneliness strategy and the prime minister’s unwavering support for social prescribing; ‘GPs in England will be able to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community activities and voluntary services by 2023’. We know only 20% of our health is accountable to healthcare and social prescribing is the appropriate resource for the 80% that are largely non-medical.
Non-clinical link workers are hugely crucial to the success of social prescribing. Clients/patients often see them as role models, therefore it is important that they are adequately supported and do not feel professionally isolated themselves .
The key to successful social prescribing is link worker:
- – empowerment
- – development
- – support
7 actions that needs to be taken:
- Recognise that there are non-clinical and clinical link workers and therefore provide role clarity and guidance
- Provide a cross cutting national standardised curriculum for non-clinical link worker education/training
- Provide career progression routes for non-clinical link workers
- Decent pay for non-clinical link workers, up to a minimum of NHS band 5
- Recognise the role of volunteers and patient participation groups in social prescribing and therefore provide support and guidance
- Support link workers to role model social prescribing
- Provide an upto date national open access directory of services, community activities and community groups
Get intouch with us to chat about collaborating on these 7 areas or to learn more firstname.lastname@example.org
How it started:
Our Social Prescribing and Wellbeing Project was set up at the GP surgery as a pilot project, about 18months ago, in response to an identified need. This need came about because a relatively new service, at the time, provided by a Community Navigator was becoming inundated and overloaded with requests from GPs across the city to signpost patients, who presented with non-medical issues, to services for support with a range of social or emotional (i.e. non-medical) needs.
The presentation to the Patient Participation Group (PPG) resulted in an interested group of volunteers being trained by the local CVS/Community Navigator team and then some of those volunteers taking the project forward with the surgery’s support.
• As volunteer link workers, we support the (18000 +patients) surgery by spending more time with patients who have non-medical issues but don’t know where else to go. Patients appreciate the time we give them
• For complex cases we can escalate to the Community Navigator
Support we received
• We received initial training which focused more on active listening and protective behaviours a couple of us spent time at the local CAB.
• The surgery is very appreciative of what we are trying to do and we have a proactive GP and Practice Manager who are keen that we should succeed.
• We have been invited to surgery meetings to give feedback and they would like us to have our photos on the board alongside other staff members to show the patients who we are.
How we work:
• Clinics are held on 2 half days per week so that a consulting room is always available
• We have devised a closed group scheduling system on Yammer
• We have produced a small referral pad which each of the GPs, Nurses and Receptionists can use to give to a patient to take to reception to book an appointment. This also acts as a reminder to the GPs of the service available by the volunteers.
• By developing strong links with the surgery, we have a secure email account that allows us to share referral forms back to the surgery to update patients records
• We have refined our IT trails so that we have as much face to face time with the patient as possible
• We are proactive in gathering leaflets, learning on the hoof, drawing on our backgrounds and general knowledge.
The issues have been:
• Recruiting and keeping volunteers
• Finding a system for scheduling the rota
• Designing a system/paper & electronic trail that works for all parties
• Having a manageable IT system for recording actions and follow ups
• Having a dedicated space within the surgery to see patients
• Getting sufficient referrals from the GPs
• Lack of funding
• Training for volunteers/ new recruits
• Knowing what 3rd party services are currently available
• Getting volunteers’ faces known around the surgery
Written by our member Angela Bettridge (volunteer link worker) The Maltings Surgery, St Albans in Hertfordshire.
Join us if you are interested in ending link worker professional isolation and would like a single point of access for empowering and supporting the social prescribing workforce inorder to help increase positive wellbeing outcomes for themselves, individuals and communities.
Some background information as to why social prescribing is global.
The United Nations (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was adopted in September 2015 by the Heads of State and Government and High Representatives, meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals, target by 2030
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2. End hunger achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
World social prescribing
As a result, organisations and governments globally are increasingly putting the SDGs at the heart of their impact framework and approaches.
Social prescribing impacts upon all 17 goals . As such, governments and organisations that are not yet aware of the benefits of social prescribing should be made aware and be supported to include social prescribing as part of their SDG implementation strategy. What are your thoughts?
If YOU are an individual or organisation who is interested or involved in social prescribing and would like to improve positive wellbeing outcomes JOIN US
We welcome local, national and international collaboration. Get intouch email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org