Tuesday 16 June 2020

Social Prescribing: Link Workers

In the UK there are over 1,000 Link Workers* working with individuals of all ages. Link Workers come from a variety of backgrounds including community outreach, peer support, volunteering, wellbeing, public health, advocacy, health and social care. (*NALW)

Link Workers have a variety of other titles for example health advisor, health trainer, care navigator, community navigator, community connector, social prescribing coordinator and community care coordinator.¹

In a survey of Link Workers it was found that the main reason individuals when into this type of work was because they [Link Workers] wanted to give back to their community. ²

When a person comes under the care of a Social Prescribing service they are appointed a Link Worker.

As mentioned in last weeks post giving an introduction to Social Prescribing, Link Workers work with individuals who have long-term chronic or complex health care needs including those with mental health problems and individuals who may have become isolated from society.

This link worker is the 'go to' person for the individual and will be the single point of contact allowing individuals to build up a working relationship with their Link Worker in return giving individuals stability, trust and consistency.

A Social Prescribing Link Worker works with individuals to build up their confidence to take better control of their health and wellbeing and this can take place in many forms. Link workers actively listen to individuals to understand what it import to that individual.

Link Workers work with individuals to identify the person's needs in a holistic matters; not just looking at their physical needs but their social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and cultural needs. This then comes together to develop a personalised action plan identifying short-term and long-term goals as well as identifying any external services or other agencies that the individual could be signposted and referred to.

I'm still getting to know my Link Worker and as well as the practical work we do together there's also an element of supporting my emotional needs too. Many people with chronic health problems will have secondary mental health issues including depression and anxiety which can reduce a person's quality of life ³. At the moment with my Link Worker we have some sort of long-term-ish goals floating around such as groups I can attend possibly in the future but mostly we're just focussing on here and now short-term goals for example writing a blog post about Social Prescribing and completing a jigsaw puzzle and what creative things I can do etc. These things are what are manageable and achievable for me at this present moment. It's nice to have a care professional supporting me that isn't working on the medical model of health care but is seeing me as a bubble of holistic needs and also individually what matter's most to me, like blogging and being creative.

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