Social prescribing

Why social prescribing?

Social prescribing can help to strengthen community and personal resilience, reduce health inequalities and wellbeing inequalities by addressing the wider determinants of health, such as debt, poor housing and physical inactivity, by increasing people’s active involvement with their local diverse communities.

NHS England Personalised Care – Social Prescribing Link Workers: Reference for Primary Care Networks June 2020

One in five GP appointments focus on wider social needs, rather than acute medical issues. In areas of high deprivation, many GPs report that they spend significant amounts of time dealing with the consequences of poor housing, debt, stress and loneliness. Social prescribing and community-based support is part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s commitment to make personalised care business as usual across the health and care system and to bring additional capacity into the multi-disciplinary team. This approach aims to reduce pressure on clinicians, improve people’s lives through improved and timely access to health services and strengthen community resilience, meeting the needs of our diverse and multi-cultural communities.

Social prescribing enables all primary care staff and local agencies to refer people to a link worker and supports self-referral. Working under supervision of a GP, link workers give people time and focus on what matters to the person, as identified through shared decision making or personalised care and support planning. They will manage and prioritise their own caseload in accordance with the health and wellbeing needs of their local population, and where required discuss and/or refer people back to other health professionals and GPs in the PCN. They also connect people to local community groups and agencies for practical and emotional support. Link workers work within multi-disciplinary teams and collaborate with local partners to support community groups to be accessible and sustainable and help people to start new groups and activities. Social prescribing can support a wide range of people, including (but not exclusively) people:

  • with one or more long term conditions
  • who need support with their mental health
  • who are lonely or isolated
  • who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing

Download: More information about Social Prescribing

Download: Social prescribing FAQs

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What good social prescribing looks like

All PCNs across the country will have a Social Prescribing service and have been recruiting Social Prescribing Link Workers into their multi-disciplinary teams as part of the expansion to the primary care workforce. These roles are funded through the Network Contract Directed Enhanced Service (DES), there are currently over 350 SPLWs in London and numbers continue to rise.

NHS England Personalised Care Group created and published a new Social Prescribing Link Workers: Reference Guide for primary care networks and Technical Annex to support practice managers and clinical leads within primary care networks (PCNs), for social prescribing link workers, commissioners and local system partners, including voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) leaders, public health leaders, people with lived experience and patient groups.

The guide and technical annex cover the following topics:

  • Checklist for introducing social prescribing link workers into PCNs
  • Working with partners to create a shared local social prescribing plan
  • Recruiting social prescribing link workers
  • A framework for social prescribing link workers
  • What to include in a link worker induction
  • Supervision and learning for social prescribing link workers
  • Creating personalised care and support plans
  • Quality assurance for social prescribing
  • Social prescribing referral systems
  • Measuring impact: people’s wellbeing
  • Measuring impact: on community groups

Primary Care Networks (PCNs) were established in 2019 to build on the current primary care services and to enable greater provision of proactive, personalised, coordinated and more integrated health and social care.

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Social Prescribing in Secondary Care: How to guide

Guidance outlines an approach for NHS commissioners and senior managers to introduce a social prescribing champion model. Read more… 

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How to introduce a social prescribing champion model

Social prescribing is a way to support our communities, helping people to look after one another by considering all determinants of being and staying well. However, it is no easy challenge. Read more…

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Case studies

Social prescribing case studies

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