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Social prescribing

Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health. As well as benefitting the individual, social prescribing schemes could also lead to a reduction in the use of NHS services.

Essentially, it’s a mechanism for linking patients with non-medical sources of support within the community and can also be referred to as community referral.

Examples of social prescribing schemes include volunteering, arts activities, group learning, gardening, befriending, cookery, healthy eating advice and a range of sports.

This information is from Primary Care One’s primer, and you can read more here.

It’s also worth checking out their:

May 2018 Social Prescribing in Wales report.

Social prescribing in Torfaen 2017-2018.

This video from SP Students Cymru is meant to be shared with healthcare professionals to show them just how much of a difference social prescribing can make in their patients lives.

This guide will help front-line health and care staff use their trusted relationships with patients, families and communities to promote the benefits of social prescribing. They also recommend important actions that managers and staff holding strategic roles can take.

The University of Westminster also has some useful information on people and resources for England and also Ireland (not Wales and Scotland but still worth a read), including this guide.

Our knowledge base already has a handy page on social prescribing research in Wales.

For other ways to think about this practice, check out the first in this four part blog series.



The National Association of Link Workers has released the following FAQ in August 2019:

Have questions about Social Prescribing Link Workers? Check out these FAQs we’ve received from other members:

What is a Social Prescribing Link Worker?
A Social Prescribing Link Worker is someone who uses strength-based approach to increase people’s confidence to take control of their health and wellbeing. They work in partnership with people, actively listening to understand what matters to them from a holistic perspective (social and wider determinants of health), cocreating action plans and goals to meet their needs. This means they need to gain and maintain people’s trust and confidence.

Who can be a Social Prescribing Link Worker?
Social Prescribing Link Workers come from a variety of backgrounds; community, lay, volunteering, wellbeing, public health, advocacy, health and social care. The skills and experience required to fulfil the role should be informed by the local challenges addressed through social prescribing and the outcomes desired. In addition to skills, knowledge and personal attributes highlighted in the link worker report and code of practice for high quality social prescribing practice, the social prescribing link worker needs to be approachable, patient and trustworthy.

Is Social Prescribing Link Worker’s role similar to other roles such as Social Worker or Occupational Therapist?
It is only recently that a dedicated person is in this type of role. Prior to this there was often crossover from the helping professions that work in the community, health and social care delivering some aspects or light touches of the role. The role is broader than as single profession, it cuts across many, hence its uniqueness. This is not about role substitution but about Multi-Disciplinary team working to deliver seamless holistic service to the person.

Which job title is best to use?
The term ‘Link Worker’ is an umbrella term we use to describe those in this role. Social prescribing programmes use a variety of names to describe link workers based on local decisions and use the terms community, navigator, link worker and social prescribing most.

Do you have examples of Social Prescribing?
See Social Prescribing Link Worker day showcase gallery and presentation for examples of Social Prescribing.


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