The aim of the NHS Comprehensive Personalised Care model is to support people to manage both their physical and mental health and wellbeing, build community resilience, and to make informed decisions and choices when their health changes. Social prescribing plays a key role in this model.
Social prescribing enables primary care professionals and other support groups to refer people to local, non-clinical services. In some ways, social prescribing can be considered a component of prevention. Seeking holistic solutions for social, rather than clinical, problems and empowering people to build new relationships and enjoy new activities, increases their confidence and ability to take more control of their lives. It leads to a more efficient and effective provision of care by healthcare professionals. For people already living with a health condition, social prescribing can prevent worsening health and reduce costly interventions in specialist care. The current Covid pandemic has left many people, particularly the elderly, feeling alone and isolated. Social prescribing can be a lifeline for these people, connecting them to community support. In a nutshell, social prescribing is a way of linking patients in primary care with support in the community and providing GPs with a non-medical referral option that can operate alongside existing treatments to improve health and wellbeing.
A social prescribing service consists of social prescribing link workers, care coordinators, and health and wellbeing coaches. Within the PCN, the positions are relatively new, and the roles are still evolving. Each role requires specific skills but all three concentrate very much on a ‘what matters to me’ approach. It is important that link workers, care coordinators, and health and wellbeing coaches work together to provide a social prescribing service that meets the needs of the local community.
Link workers give people time and provide practical support or information relating to social issues. Working together with an individual to co-produce a personalised plan, they signpost or refer to activities and community groups to help improve a person’s wellbeing—all the while being
supportive, compassionate, non-judgmental, caring, and empathetic. To carry out their role effectively, a link worker must make and maintain excellent links with GP practices, other professional healthcare providers, social care services, the local authority, and third sector organisations.
The role of the care coordinator is to provide coordination of care and support across health and care services. Working closely with GPs and other primary care professionals, a care coordinator proactively identifies people who would benefit from additional care and support, primarily the frail, elderly, and those with long-term conditions, helping them to engage in their own health and wellbeing more fully.
Health and Wellbeing Coaches use health coaching skills to support people, particularly those with low levels of patient activation, to improve the way they manage their health conditions. Using coaching and motivational expertise, they help people develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence to improve their health and wellbeing goals, often using local resources and peer support.
This webinar will provide an update on the value of Social Prescribing, how it is being embedded into the Primary Care model, and the vision for the future.