Social prescribing is a way for local agencies to refer people to a link worker. Link workers give people time, focusing on ‘what matters to me’ and taking a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. They connect people to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support.
Link workers also support existing community groups to be accessible and sustainable, and help people to start new groups, working collaboratively with all local partners.
Social prescribing works for a wide range of people, including 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.
When social prescribing works well, people can be easily referred to link workers from a wide range of local agencies, including general practice, pharmacies, multi-disciplinary teams, hospital discharge teams, allied health professionals, fire service, police, job centres, social care services, housing associations and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations. Self-referral is also encouraged.
A standard model of social prescribing has been developed in partnership with stakeholders, which shows the key elements that need to be in place for effective social prescribing;
Social prescribing model - Collaborative, commissioning and partnership working; easy referral; workforce development; common outcomes framework; what matters to me; support for community groups.
Social prescribing complements other approaches, such as active signposting. This is a ‘light touch’ approach where existing staff in local agencies provide information to signpost people to services, using local knowledge and resource directories. Active signposting works best for people who are confident and skilled enough to find their own way to services after a brief intervention.