Member Spotlight- Laura Evans

Name: Laura Evans

Job title: Senior Wellbeing4u Co-ordinator

Organisation: Wellbeing4U – United Welsh

Location: Wales

Please summarise your role responsibilities

I jointly line manage the Wellbeing4u team, responsible for facilitating reflective practice, team meetings, collating reports, case management, 121 supervisions and promoting the wellbeing of the co-ordinators.  I attend practice and cluster meetings to promote social prescribing and facilitate courses with patients.  I am responsible for the training of the team.

What is your most significant accomplishment in your role?

I am most proud of developing reflective practice and training of the team and encouraging staff to be self compassionate and taking care of their own wellbeing.  This has had a significant impact in staff recovering and preventing burnout and also impacts the conversations that the co-ordinators have with patients.

What is the biggest challenge you are currently facing?

My biggest challenge currently is encouraging GPs to not only refer to us for social prescribing but also to value the impact that health and wellbeing coaching can have in increasing patient’s wellbeing and for us to be viewed as a partner in health.

Do you have any words of wisdom for Social Prescribing Link Workers and/or Social Prescribing Programmes?

Being self compassionate and managing your own wellbeing is key to being successful in the role.  The role can be isolating and complex and it can take time to gain “buy in” from GPs and practice staff.  Don’t be disheartened if resistance is experienced, keep at it, and share case studies in practice meetings which can outline to GPs how social prescribing can impact patients.

What do you do for fun when not working?

I spend time with my family and friends, walking my two dogs and playing with my 20 month old grandson who is the light of my life! I love holistic therapies, spa days and yoga and teach mindfulness courses in the community.

How does National Association of Link Workers add value to Social Prescribing and Link Workers?

National Association of Link Workers adds value to Social Prescribing by providing employers with a code of practice, guidance around employing link workers and a framework with which to align themselves by when considering good practice.  NALW provides link workers with training and a supportive community of link workers who can be drawn upon for peer support which is vital to success in the role.

Laura is National Association of Link Workers point of contact in Wales providing localised leadership and support to Link Workers.

Connect with her on twitter!

Get involved with 20th April #LinkWorkerDay2020

1st ever national social prescribing link worker day 8th July 2019

A national day to celebrate and showcase the contribution of social prescribing link workers in improving population health and wellbeing. This coincides with the 1st ever national social prescribing link worker conference taking place in London.

Who can participate?
• Anyone who has directly benefited from being supported by a link worker or social prescribing scheme
• Anyone who has witnessed in any other way the difference social prescribing brings to individuals/communities
• Anyone who thinks it may support them or a family member in the future

Including but not limited to:
• Social prescribing link workers
• Patients
• Families
• Carers
• Social prescribing schemes and suppliers
• GPs & Health Clinicians
• Allied Health Professionals
• Social Prescribing related volunteers
• Commissioners
• Academics

How can you participate?

A. Celebrate & showcase

1. Answer in not more than 200 characters or record video no longer than 1 minute
highlighting how a link worker and/or social prescribing has helped you or might help you or has helped your patient or user?

– You can use the opportunity to celebrate and showcase your local social prescribing scheme, primary care network and link workers as appropriate

2. Post your answer on twitter, Facebook, Instagram as appropriate using #linkworkerday19 #GlueInHSC on 8th July 2019

3. To showcase your answers in our online gallery, national conference & brochure and social media channels on 8th July 2019, please send your answers to michelle@connectlink.org by 3rd June 2019
Please include:
o Your name
o Twitter handle, if applicable
o Indicate your connection to social prescribing (e.g. carer, patient, GP, social prescribing link worker, commissioners, manager, etc)

B. Raise awareness
1. Use the official social media, logo, email kits for your profile to raise awareness and to create your own swag including t-shirts, fliers etc.

2. Use #linkworkerday19 #glueinhsc on social media

Spotlight: Occupational Therapist and Social prescribing link worker partnership working

A social prescribing link worker is a ‘trusted resource’ that can help multidisciplinary teams (MDTs), including occupational therapists, deliver seamless holistic services to patients.

We partnered with the Royal College of Occupational Therapists to spotlight Occupational Therapist (OT) and Social prescribing link worker partnership working in order to increase understanding of the role link workers can play in MDTs.

Read extracts from the OT news article:

Make the most of the ‘trusted resource’ of link workers

How our member, Reading Voluntary Action is working with occupational therapist referrals to give people the community support they need

Further information:

www.connectlink.org

email info@connectlink.org

link worker report
www.rcot.co.uk/news/occupational-therapy-role-social-prescribing

How to recruit the right social prescribing link worker

In order to increase social prescribing success, organisations need to recruit the right link worker who will help achieve the desired patient outcomes.

Link workers role involves building trust and relationships. Therefore, the right person needs to be recruited to have positive impacts on patients.

Recruiting the right link worker is about:

Firstly, you will need to get the foundation right before recruiting:

  1. Do you fully understand the role you are trying to recruit? Can you describe what makes the role unique?
  2. Do you know the local problem that you are solving?
  3. Do you know the outcomes you seek?
  4. Do you know what is required to achieve the outcomes?

If you are not too sure about 1-4 or need support recruiting the right link worker, get in touch with us.

The 1st ever national social prescribing link worker conference coincides with link worker day, 8th July 2019. It will be a national day of sharing, learning and network for primary care networks, existing and future social prescribing schemes.

Why GP receptionists and social prescribing link workers are crucial to sustaining general practice

In every industry, customer focus is an essential ingredient for success. This also, applies to health and social care organisations. General practice must place customer/patients’ needs at the centre, ensure services and roles are aligned around those needs in order to be sustainable.

Two crucial roles aligned to patient needs which are crucial to sustaining general practice:

1. GP receptionists: firstly, job titles should reflect the customer/patient need addressed. This role should meet patients’ need for a ‘GATEWAY’ NOT a gatekeeper for their health and wellbeing needs.

2. Social prescribing link workers: This role should meet patients’ need for a ‘GLUE’ for their holistic health and wellbeing needs.

The coproduced theme for the 1st ever national social prescribing link worker conference on 8th July 2019 is “The Glue in Healthcare”

Designing services and roles wrapped around patient needs

Service need Role examples Job titles
Active signposting/gateway GP receptionist/patient navigator your assignment
Social prescribing Link worker/community connector your assignment

Social prescribing link worker report release

Social prescribing link worker report release
14th March 2019

The National Association of Link Workers today released it’s getting to know the link worker workforce: understanding link workers knowledge, skills, experiences and support needs report

Link workers are the workforce that are critical to delivering the NHS Long Term Plan social prescribing ambitions.

Link workers enable GPs, primary care networks, mental health trusts, social and community care organisations to deliver holistic services to patients. A link worker ensures patients get help for their non-clinical holistic needs.

The role of a link worker is still relatively new and as such this is the 1st ever report to highlight the knowledge, skills, experiences and support needs of existing link workers.

As NHS England has committed to funding the recruitment and training of over 1,000 social prescribing link workers to be in place by the end of 2020/21, rising further so that by 2023/24 all staff within GP practices have access to a link worker and as there are plans to mainstream social prescribing across the UK: this presents an opportunity to be informed about setting the new recruits up for success.

“we are committed to ensuring there is equitable access to support for link workers regardless of their employer or geographical location in order to realise positive social prescribing outcomes for patients”
Christiana Melam-CEO of the National Association of Link Workers

For further information and enquiries

Join the twitter conversation using #linkworkerreport

Contact: Michelle Porthouse, michelle@connectlink.org

National Association of Link Workers

Social prescribing link worker: 3 things primary care networks should do to increase successful delivery

Social prescribing is a win win situation for primary care networks and their local population. Supported and resilient link workers are a trusted resource that can help general practice to help their patients with non-clinical needs, allowing GPs to focus on what they can do – their patients’ clinical needs. Link workers are an integral part of the primary care network team, delivering holistic service to patients and improving the health of the local population.

3 things primary care networks should do to increase successful delivery:

  1. Ensure the link worker’s role is interpreted same way not only in primary care but across the STP and nationally
  2. Ensure the link worker’s role is embedded in local workforce transformation and integrated care approaches
  3. Ensure link workers training is not disjointed but based on the link worker competency framework

 

This will ensure efficiency and consistency which will yield higher return on investment and patient experience.

The 1st ever national social prescribing link worker success conference holds on 8th July.

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Social Prescribing link worker: 5 ways to boost client attendance

If you’re working in the field of Social Prescribing and seeing clients, you may have had days or even weeks where some or many people don’t show up. One piece of research has suggested that deprivation is the biggest driver of missed GP appointments (Lancet, Dec ’17) so it makes sense that Social Prescribing clients can sometimes be difficult to engage.

Here are 5 ideas that have helped me boost client attendance so that more people can benefit from our service

1) The telephone; it’s how you use it! It’s likely your first contact with the client will be on the phone. Here are some tips that have helped me to engage with my clients successfully. Getting hold of a client: Some people don’t answer unknown numbers, so you can text ahead to introduce yourself then call shortly after, or leave a voicemail or text asking them to get back to you (texting seems to trump voicemail nowadays!). OK, maybe this sounds too obvious, but it can be a tricky business! Ask: “Do you think a face to face appointment would be useful for you?” Ask this rather than going straight ahead and booking them in for an appointment they may not really be committed to attending. Telephone signposting: If your client’s needs are clear then simply assist them over the phone with the information they need to save time for both of you. Telephone appointments: These are great if your client has certain barriers (see point 2). Timing is everything: Use the information you have about the client to judge when might be the best time to first call. Maybe they are busy because of school runs or work or they are retired or unemployed. For me, overall I find more people answer late morning!

2) Discuss your client’s barriers. Our clients can feel that lots of things are holding them back, which is partly why they are seeking support (or the GP has recommended it). These barriers may stop them at the first hurdle from even attending a social prescribing appointment. Try to find a time, place and type of appointment that best suits your client (as far as you have the resources). Are they a morning person? They can have the 9am slot! Are they afraid of busy waiting rooms? Find out the least busy time for the practice (if practice based). Do they have a school run to do? Do they work 9–5pm or nights? Are they afraid of leaving the house? Do they have a bus to catch which is better at a certain time of day? Does that cost them money? Are they a carer? All of these factors might mean that someone misses an appointment or disengages completely, so be frank and try to get a sense of these within your first appointment with your client

3) Text an appointment reminder the day before. Sounds simple and many of you probably already do this, because often people forget or haven’t written down their appointments, but I’ve found that wording the message to promote accountability can actually make a difference! For example, I used to write something like ‘Hi ……just a quick reminder of your appointment tomorrow at 2pm at …..Surgery, Best wishes, Will’ and now I write ‘Hi….appointment confirmed for tomorrow at 2pm at ….Surgery. See you tomorrow. Will’. Perhaps the first one is too casual but since using the second one, fewer clients have texted me back to say ‘Sorry I can’t make it’ and more have attended, I think because it sounds more formal. So if you’re getting lots of no shows, try playing with your wording!

4) Sense your client’s commitment. After the first appointment, I always try to ask the client two questions. “Was that helpful today?” and “Would it be useful for you to have another appointment?” Of course, I also say what I think might be useful for them but it’s a joint decision. If you sense the client is being polite or hesitant and just re-booking because they think they should, then try to be open and say that it really is only if they think it would help them. After the first appointment they may still not be quite ready to get support or set goals, or it may not be for them.

5) Book short and long slots. I used to book 45 minute slots for all of my clients, but then if one doesn’t arrive that’s a lot of time wasted. Now I book 20 minute slots and 45 minute slots. The shorter slots work well for follow ups and more regular clients and the longer ones for new clients. I also ask the client which length of appointment they would prefer. This means I can book more clients in per day and if any don’t show up then it’s not as much of a problem.

Of course, managing our client case-loads is a bit of an art and it depends on the types of clients you’d like to engage. Here in Bristol, we are working in the areas of deprivation as part of a citywide Public Health backed project. I hope that in sharing my experiences you’ve picked up something useful and would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and best practice

Will Ship

Social Prescribing Link Worker Southmead Development Trust

Join the No.1 professional membership network for link workers

Social prescribing coming of age conference: 2 key issues that emerged

We were delighted to exhibit at the King’s Fund social prescribing conference on 6th November 2018.

It was a colourful event indeed and it was fantastic seeing familiar and new faces. Over 100 people caught our link worker effect and signed up for further conversation at our stand 🙂 We are very grateful for the lovely feedback from visitors to our stand. Here is a taster

‘it was a great event and I very much enjoyed visiting the Connect Link stand’

‘what a great enthusiastic & fun team, really enjoyed talking to your staff’

The secretary of state for health and social care, Matt Hancock also caught the link worker effect when he met with our CEO. Great support for link workers! In his keynote speech, he reiterated his commitment to social prescribing and that he was open to ideas with proven evidence and wasn’t wielded to a model. You can read his full speech.

2 key issues that emerged

2 key issues that emerged from the over 100 conversations we had with visitors to our stand:

1) Lack of a repository of all social prescribing schemes: visitors were asking for information regarding existing social prescribing schemes in their area. Social prescribing coming of age should mean improved coordination and dissemination of information. There now needs to be a collation of existing social prescribing schemes for easy public access.

2) Lack of social prescribing link worker role clarity

Firstly, it is important to clarify that we are referring to a non-clinical social prescribing link worker. It is worth noting that our members involved in social prescribing schemes are non-clinical and we are very clear about their role. Again, this highlights a lack of a coordinated dissemination of information.

The awaited NHS England social prescribing guide should help provide role clarity. Here is an excerpt.

Additionally, our ‘code of practice for link workers’ which will be launched at our ‘link worker success conference 2019′ will provide detailed role clarity. You may wish to sign up to our membership for further information

Next steps
Get in touch with us info@connectlink.org, if you have questions or for either of the following:

• Want to discuss membership?
• Want to support our link worker success conference 2019?
• Do you have an idea you would like to discuss with us?
• Do you have a project in the pipeline and would like to work with us?
• Would you like to get involved with our work?
• Do you want to be listed in our social prescribing marketplace?
• Want to discuss bespoke training?
• Do you want to discuss embedding social prescribing?

National Association of Link Workers response to the government’s loneliness strategy

We welcome the publication of the loneliness strategy and the prime minister’s unwavering support for social prescribing; ‘GPs in England will be able to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community activities and voluntary services by 2023’. We know only 20% of our health is accountable to healthcare and social prescribing is the appropriate resource for the 80% that are largely non-medical.

 

Non-clinical link workers are hugely crucial to the success of social prescribing. Clients/patients often see them as role models, therefore it is important that they are adequately supported and do not feel professionally isolated themselves .

The key to successful social prescribing is link worker:

  • – empowerment
  • – development
  • – support

 

 

7 actions that needs to be taken:

  1. Recognise that there are non-clinical and clinical link workers and therefore provide role clarity and guidance
  2. Provide a cross cutting national standardised curriculum for non-clinical link worker education/training
  3. Provide career progression routes for non-clinical link workers
  4. Decent pay for non-clinical link workers, up to a minimum of NHS band 5
  5. Recognise the role of volunteers and patient participation groups in social prescribing and therefore provide support and guidance
  6. Support link workers to role model social prescribing
  7. Provide an upto date national open access directory of services, community activities and community groups

 

Get intouch with us to chat about collaborating on these 7 areas or to learn more info@connectlink.org