Social Prescribing North Lincolnshire

In August 2020 VANL hosted a new role, funded by North Lincolnshire Council to support the Social Prescribing offer of North Lincolnshire.  This was a Social Prescribing Capacity Builder.

The role involves supporting voluntary and community groups in how to best prepare themselves to respond to referrals from social prescribing link workers and work with the VCSE sector and communities to increase sustainability and develop and diversify activities and services to be included in the social prescribing offer, using an Assets Based Community Development approach.

The concept of social prescribing is not new to North Lincolnshire. Voluntary and community organisations have a long-established role in supporting and improving the lives and wellbeing of people in our communities.  In North Lincolnshire NHS England has developed an approach to social prescribing with funding through GP surgeries to appoint link workers who have a role to support and help people access non-medical help and interventions.

Social prescribing and community-based support is part of the NHS Long Term Plan.  It is part of the overarching vision for ‘Personalised Care’, taking a whole system approach by integrating services around the person.

Personalised Care means people have choice and control over the way their care is planned and delivered, based on ‘what matters to them’. This means a comprehensive whole population approach. The model brings together a wide range of service providers and stakeholders, including the voluntary and community sector.

North Lincolnshire Model Asset-Based Approach to Community Wellbeing

Social prescribing in North Lincolnshire currently enables GP’s across the region to refer patients to the social prescribing link worker who covers the GP surgery. These link workers operate closely with and within the 4 primary care networks, North, East, South and West (PCNs) in North Lincolnshire:

The Link workers:

  • are attached to GPs and PCNs, made up of GP practices, where they take referrals from a range of local agencies
  • are employed by the GP practice/PCN or are roles contracted out to link worker providers- Citizens Advice North Lincolnshire (East and West PCN).
  • are proactive in developing strong links with all local health and social care, and other support agencies to encourage referrals into the social prescribing system, recognising what they need to be confident in the service to make appropriate referrals
  • identify the wider issues that impact on a person’s health and wellbeing, such as debt, poor housing, being unemployed, loneliness and caring responsibilities
  • work with individuals to co-produce a personalised support plan
  • meet people on a one-to-one basis, making home visits where appropriate, build trust with the person, provide support
  • work with the person, their families and carers to consider how they can all be supported through social prescribing
  • actively support access and provide the link to services and activities to improve health and wellbeing
  • are a source of information about wellbeing and prevention approaches

Social prescribing, sometimes referred to as community referral, is a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services.  It enables referral to link workers/social prescribers who give people time and focus on what matters to that person, providing practical and emotional support.

Social prescribing is when a person visiting a GP’s surgery is recommended activities that are delivered by voluntary and community groups as well as, or instead of, medical interventions. Examples include sports and physical activity, meditation groups, support groups for people with chronic conditions and volunteering.

Support and work carried out by the Capacity Builder within the VCSE Sector:

  • Identifying diverse local community services, groups and VCS organisations across North Lincolnshire
  • Updating a ‘database’ of diverse local community groups and services, which can be accessed by link workers to find suitable activities for their beneficiaries
  • Holding regular catch-ups with local community groups and VCS organisations, to check what capacity they have for new people and to overcome any challenges, providing a range of support where required, such as funding support, digital support, trusteeship and governance, setting up a new charitable organisation and project planning.
  • Inclusion of small, grassroots community groups, and neighbourhood groups in connecting people through social prescribing, which may not have formal policies and procedures
  • Identifying gaps in local community activities and services, encouraged commissioners, local funders and local infrastructure agencies to support the development of diverse new community groups, ensuring those people from hard to reach communities and those with multiple disadvantage needs are reached
  • Regular meetings with link workers to better understand the gaps in knowledge and provision of activities to decide where capacity building should be focussed
  • Regular meetings with the North Lincolnshire Social Prescribing Alliance
  • Supporting the VCSE sector with best practice policy and governance requirements, referral and management processes to ensure effective working with the link workers

For more information and support on how your group or organisation can be involved in the Social Prescribing offer, and for useful information resources to support you, please contact: alicia.keen@vanl.org.uk