What is a Social Prescribing Link Worker

What is a Social Prescribing Link Worker? 

Social Prescribing Link Workers (SPLW) are frontline non-clinical healthcare professionals. They operate as part of a multi-disciplinary team, serving as a key link between the NHS and community. In some areas they are called Community Link Workers or Social Prescribers.

SPLW operate holistically and proactively to identify socio-economic and environmental factors which directly and indirectly impact health, especially those resulting from injustice and inequality. 

They not only advocate for their patients, service users and communities but support them to enact positive changes at an individual and community level. The SPLW uses a strengths-based approach aimed at increasing people’s confidence to take control of their health and wellbeing. Partnering with people, facilitating them to understand what matters to them from a holistic perspective, co-creating action plans and goals and supporting them to access the most appropriate services. This enables people to support themselves better and take control of their own wellbeing, which in turn reduces pressure on overused services such as A&E and emergency GP appointments.   

To fulfil their role, SPLW work with a range of professionals, local agencies, and partners including; local authorities, emergency services, welfare providers, primary and secondary care, and voluntary/community groups to identify people and areas of need. Being embedded with the community the SPLW offers a unique understanding that facilitates ground-up solutions and the development of pre-existing community strengths and assets. The success of social prescribing link workers (SPLW) lies in their knowledge and affinity to the communities they serve and their collaborative approach.  

Main roles of the Social Prescribing Link Worker 

  1. Support the promotion of individuals and carers’ holistic wellbeing, rights, and interests.  
  2. Contribute to the reduction of injustice and inequality and champion the rights of others.  
  3. Help build and maintain the trust and confidence of people who use services and carers.  
  4. Promote the independence of people who use services while protecting them, as far as possible, from danger and harm.  
  5. Work to standards set out in the code of practice.  
  6. Be accountable for the quality of work and take responsibility for maintaining and improving knowledge and skills.  

How do I become a Social Prescribing Link Worker? 

The social prescribing link worker role has emerged in recent years, mainly through voluntary sector organisations working in partnership with GP practices and other referral agencies. There are now varied employers from range of sectors, including primary care, voluntary sector, local authority, Health and Social care Partnerships, secondary care, criminal justice, education etc

Link workers are employed in non-clinical roles directly or by a host employer. They are recruited for their listening skills, empathy, ability to support people in a personalised and coproduced way and knowledge of  local community assets. Check our youtube channel for more insights

Recommended references:

  1. Education Standards
  2. Code of Practice
  3. Careers

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