How to embed Social Prescribing in individual and organisational professional practice
- Why do it?
- What good looks like – for people
- What good looks like – for communities
- How to do it: what needs to be in place locally
- Documents and resources
Why do it?
(Information abridged from the Social Prescribing and Community-Based Support Summary Guide NHS England.)
- There is emerging evidence that social prescribing can lead to a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes for people, such as improved quality of life and emotional wellbeing. Social prescribing schemes may lead to a reduction in the use of NHS services, including GP attendance.
- When social prescribing works well, people can be easily referred to local social prescribing link workers from a wide range of local agencies, including general practice, local authorities, 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.
- Link workers give people time, and focus on what matters to the person as identified through shared decision making or personalised care and support planning. They connect people to community groups and agencies for practical and emotional support.
Social prescribing works particularly well for a wide range of people including those:
- 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.
What good social prescribing looks like – for people
- People, their families and carers know about social prescribing and can easily be referred to social prescribing link workers from a wide range of local agencies.
- People, their families and carers can refer themselves to social prescribing link workers.
- Building on ‘what matters to me’, people can work with a link worker to co-produce a simple plan or a summary personalised care and support plan, based on the person’s assets, needs and preferences, as well as making the most of community and informal support.
- People, their families and carers may be physically introduced to community groups, so that they don’t have to make that first step to join a group and to meet new people on their own.
- People, their families and carers are encouraged to develop their knowledge, skills and confidence by being involved in local community groups and giving their time back to others.
- Being connected to community groups through social prescribing enables people to be more physically active and improves mental health, helping them to stay well for longer and lessen the impact of long-term conditions.
What good social prescribing looks like – for communities
- Communities understand the power of social prescribing in reducing health inequalities.
- Communities work with social prescribing to ensure that services are fully accessible to all communities, including those in greatest need, who may be hardest for agencies to reach.
- Communities recognise that the NHS, local authorities and statutory services alone cannot meet all people’s support needs.
- Communities are actively involved in developing and delivering social prescribing.
- Communities are able to support people who participate in social prescribing, improving their confidence and ability to manage their own wellbeing.
How to do it
What needs to be in place locally
1) Collaborative commissioning and partnership working
Social prescribing works best when all local partners work together to build on existing assets and services. Successful schemes generally have collaborative commissioning and creative partnership working, with the following common characteristics:
- All partners build it together.
- Local relationships matter.
- The VCSE sector is involved from the start.
2) Easy referral from all local agencies
It is important that a wide range of agencies, including all general practices, are able to refer people to social prescribing and that this process should be as easy as possible. To be effective, the following are needed:
- A wide range of local agencies are able to refer to social prescribing.
- Informed decision-making.
- National social prescribing codes in GP IT systems to capture social prescribing referrals: NHS England has worked with NHS Digital to establish national SNOMED CT7 codes for social prescribing: 871711000000103 | Social prescribing declined (situation) 871731000000106 | Referral to social prescribing service (procedure).
- Easy referral within general practice.
3) Workforce development
For social prescribing to work successfully, link workers need suitable support and training. It is also vital that the wider workforce have an understanding of social prescribing to enable appropriate referrals.
- All referrers need support to understand link worker roles and how local systems can make the best of them.
- Social prescribing link workers need regular access to ‘clinical supervision’.
- Accredited learning and link worker qualifications.
4) Link workers employed to give time
Paid link workers are a fundamental feature of good social prescribing. They play a pivotal role by developing trusting relationships and providing personalised support. As a result, their work:
- strengthens community resilience
- reduces health inequalities by addressing the wider determinants of health, such as debt, poor housing and physical inactivity
- increases people’s active involvement with their local communities.
5) What matters to you? Co-produced simple plans or summary personalised care and support plans
An important element of social prescribing support is for the person and their link worker to co-produce a simple plan or a summary personalised care and support plan, which outlines:
- what matters to the person – their priorities, interests, values and motivations
- community groups and services the person will be connected to
- what the person can expect of community support and services
- what the person can do for themselves, in order to keep well and active
- what assets people already have that they can draw on – family, friends, hobbies, skills and passions.
6) Support for community groups
It is essential to ensure that local voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises are locally sustainable and can plan ahead, if social prescribing is to be embedded across all local areas. Support should include:
- Funding. There are different ways that local commissioners can provide funding.
- Safe referrals. It is necessary to ensure that community groups have support with all relevant aspects to ensure both people and link workers are safe.
7) Common Outcomes Framework
Social prescribing is locally driven. To encourage consistent data gathering and reporting of outcomes, NHS England has worked with a wide range of stakeholders to develop a Social Prescribing Common Outcomes Framework (see Annex D) for measuring the impact of social prescribing on the following outcomes:
- Impact on the person.
- Impact on the health and care system.
- Impact on community groups.
Documents and resources:
|Health Coaching Patient Satisfaction Survey Sample||Personalised Care||March 2023||Download|
|Social Prescribing and Community-Based Support Summary Guide NHSE||Personalised Care||March 2023||Download|
|Social Prescribing for patients with MSK conditions||Personalised Care||January 1970||Download|
|Social Prescribing Maturity Framework v2 February 2023||Personalised Care||January 1970||Download|