Social Prescribing Link Workers (SPLWs)

Social prescribing Link Workers (SPLWs) are becoming an integral part of Multi-Disciplinary Teams in Primary Care Networks (PCNs). Link Workers take a holistic view of people’s health and wellbeing to deliver non-medical care by connecting them with partners, services, community groups and local voluntary organisations that provide people with a sense of purpose and belonging.  

Link workers connect people to community groups and agencies for practical and emotional support and give people time and focus on what matters to the person as identified through shared decision making or personalised care and support planning. 

They work within multidisciplinary teams and collaborate with local partners to support community groups to be accessible and sustainable and help people to start new groups. Social prescribing complements other approaches such as ‘active signposting’. 


Key Information

Scope of Practice

Social Prescribing Link Workers can support anyone who would benefit, including but not exclusively people in the following situations: 

  • On the lower level of the mental health/illness continuum 
  • With one or more long-term conditions 
  • Who are lonely or experiencing social isolation 
  • Who have complex social needs that affect their wellbeing 
  • Who are having financial and housing issues 
  • Carers 
  • People who are experiencing domestic violence 

Social Prescribing Link Workers may do one or more of the following: 

  • Make observations from social and wider determinants of health point of view 
  • Seek to address what matters to the individual holistically through time to talk and shared decision-making. 
  • Facilitate, connect, and link people to the right support and interventions that can help address the identified needs, which in turn helps to improve mental health and physical well-being. 
  • Refer to a variety of voluntary and community sector schemes that provide activities and support such as volunteering, exercise groups, gardening, healthy eating, and cooking. 
  • Support individuals to be resilient , independent, empowered, and able to unblock barriers to better health and wellbeing which are largely responsible for health inequalities. 

Link workers typically support people on average over 6-12 contacts (including phone calls, meetings and home visits) with a typical caseload of 200-250 people per year, depending on the complexity of people’s needs and the maturity of the social prescribing scheme.

Training Requirements

Completed the eLearning for Health online programme ‘Social Prescribing – learning for link workers’

Enrolled in or qualified from appropriate training as accredited by the Personalised Care Institute.

Attends the peer support networks delivered at place or system by the integrated care system (ICS) and/or NHS England in the region.

Funding

Social Prescribing Link Workers are reimbursable under the ARRS scheme.

Supervision

A named first point of contact in the PCN (including a GP); including access to monthly supervision from an appropriate health professional (e.g. allied health professional, GP)

Further guidance on supervision, education and training can be found in the workforce development framework for social prescribing link workers.

This module may also be of interest to any GPs or HCPs looking to provide supervision to link workers and other personalised care roles.


Devon Training Hub have recently produced a summary guide covering the supervision of all roles including GPs, Nurses, Non-Medical Prescribers, Advanced Practitioners and new roles funded through the ARRS scheme.

The guide contains the latest information on supervision requirements for each role, which team members of the team can supervise them,  & details of training requirements & CPD opportunities for supervisors.


Learning & Development

NHSE Future Learn Social Prescribing Workspace  

This platform has information for new starters, links to e-learning, and discussion forums. Email england.socialprescribing@nhs.net to request access to this workspace 

NHSE/I run fortnightly webinars on hot topics for SPLWs, accessible via FutureNHS. There is also a page signposting further training e.g. in personalised care, mental health & wellbeing, safeguarding and children & young people.


Useful links & resources

Watch The Role of the Social Prescriber:


Wellbeing & Coaching for Personalised Care Roles

Personalised Care Roles working in Primary Care can access the national NHSE/I coaching offer for all primary care staff ‘Looking after you too’.

There are a range of resources to help support your own health & wellbeing on the NHS People website.

Confidential support is also available by phone on 0800 06 96 222 (7am-11pm) for any general support, or 0300 303 4434 (8am-8pm) for bereavement-specific support. 

For support by text message, text ‘FRONTLINE’ to 85258 (available 24 hours a day, seven days a week).

Devon Training Hub Offers

Devon Training Hub’s Personalised Care Programme offers a range of education & training modules to support Care Coordinators and other Personalised Care workers to develop skills and knowledge relevant to Primary Care. Topics include: 

  • GP How does it work? 
  • Mental Health First Aid,  
  • Risk Management 
  • Motivational Interviewing 
  • Trauma-Informed Care, 
  • Enhancing Supervision, 
  • Improving Physical Activity in LTCs, 
  • Asset Based Community Development 

For information on Communities of Practice  / Peer Learning Groups in Devon & the South West please contact Devon Training Hub directly or see our DTH Guide to ARRS Community of Practice.

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