Social prescribing standard update

Social prescribing is a service provided through primary care or the voluntary sector, in which non-clinical professionals (linkworkers) can connect people to local services and support them to live well. Linkworkers build relationships with people over a set of sessions to uncover their problems, for example low mood, debt or housing issues, and connect them to services that can be of help, for example local debt relief charities or council housing assistance. PRSB’s social prescribing standard will help ensure information from sessions can be shared with care providers to identify people who would benefit from social prescribing, as well as help health and care services nationally improve social prescribing as the service matures.

We held the latest in a series of online consultations for the standard this month and were delighted to have over 30 participants join us from a range of places and professional backgrounds, including linkworkers, GPs, NHS project managers, counsellors, and service users.

Attendees heard from Nicola Gitsham, Head of Social Prescribing for NHS England and Improvement, who gave an overview of the history of social prescribing and the service’s key issues needing resolution: ‘people want to tell their story once and know there is inclusive help’. People using social prescribing have complex problems and it can be distressing to have to repeat this information if care records are not shareable and up-to-date.

Earlier feedback suggested it was important to capture faith, culture and pronouns in the standard’s communications preferences as well as ensuring the terminology used isn’t too medical.

Social prescribing is not simply signposting to other services but is also about building trusting relationships and the problem of capturing these meaningful conversations between prescriber and person in records generated a lively discussion. Linkworkers shared that it is difficult to express this within a standardised metric but said that this qualitative data needs to be recorded in an accessible and organic way.

As a social prescriber myself, there are lots of interventions we make in the role which aren’t clearly visible or picked up in the usual reporting methods – this is what a webinar participant called the magic of social prescribing. It would be great to ensure the standard captures these magic moments in such a way that really shows the true value and impact of social prescribing. – Sarah Moreton

Sarah Moreton, linkworker and clinical lead for the project, suggested that a social prescribing portal could be valuable in promoting self management and shared decision making. Others agreed that a portal containing a person’s support plan and details of each referred service provider could give people a sense of ownership of their information and allow them to manage their progress. However, it was noted that people without digital skills or access would be excluded from this and looking ahead, this would need to be looked at.

To find out more about PRSB’s social prescribing standard contact: info@theprsb.org

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