Peer support

Your PCN will appoint a GP supervisor to provide direct supervision for your work. They will meet you regularly, provide line management, address any issues or concerns and help you to succeed in the role. This will include ensuring that you can raise patient-related concerns (such as abuse, domestic violence, or other safeguarding issues) and can refer individuals back to other health professionals as relevant, for further support, review or monitoring.

Where social prescribing link workers are employed by a partner ‘social prescribing provider’ agency, the GP supervisor will still be required. In this arrangement, the GP supervisor will also need to involve the partner organisation in regular progress updates about your role, enabling clear lines of accountability, effective, seamless, joint working and problem-solving challenges together.

As well as the ongoing support you will receive from the GP supervisor, you should have regular access to clinical or non-managerial supervision both with your GP supervisor and other relevant health professionals within the PCN. This clinical or non-managerial supervision will help you to manage the emotional impact of your work and be guided by clinicians on dealing effectively with patient risk factors.

The social prescribing NHS Futures collaboration platform https://future.nhs.uk/connect.ti/socialprescribing/grouphome is an online network for sharing resources and for discussion. Membership is open to link workers, PCNs and colleagues involved in social prescribing. To join email england.socialprescribing@nhs.net

For social prescribing to work successfully, link workers need suitable support and training. It is also vital that the wider workforce understands social prescribing to enable appropriate referrals.

NHS England are developing a training and development programme for the additional link workers coming into primary care, to include online learning, facilitated peer support and regional learning events/webinars.

An extensive programme of support and development is available to social prescribing link workers and primary care networks.

Each region of England has a learning coordinator, who will support you and your colleagues in your new role. They have experience of either being link workers or managing and developing social prescribing schemes.

They will focus on your learning and development needs. They will also develop peer support networks so that you can regularly meet with other link workers in your area to support one another and to share best practice. They will also bring in specialist trainers to guide you through speci c topics, for example, what local advice services are available or how best to keep people active in their communities.

Sophie Glinka: Sophie works for both the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care partnership (in the Person Centred and Community Approaches team as Social Prescribing Lead) and The Bureau Glossop; a medium sized charity with a focus on community health and wellbeing.

At the Bureau Sophie has developed a VCSE-led social prescribing scheme embedded within the local integrated neighbourhood structure, which has been up and running for two years.

She has experience of all aspects of social prescribing design, development and implementation at both a local and regional level, with hands-on experience of dealing with current opportunities and challenges. She is looking forward to supporting the growth of social prescribing on a wider geographical footprint, seeing its huge potential to both transform health and social care and develop and grow the VCSE.

Charlotte Leonardhsen: Charlotte has worked as regional learning coordinator since September 2019. Her background is in health and wellbeing, having worked as a nurse and in the leisure industry primarily focussing on physical activity and people with long term conditions.

Charlotte also works at The Bureau, the community and voluntary network in Glossop. Initially, as health and wellbeing manager, she was responsible for the development and delivery of the Glossopdale social prescribing scheme, supervising and developing link workers, and managing the contract with their PCN link worker. Now, in her role as Partnerships Developments lead for the Bureau, Charlotte is focusing on delivering link worker support in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester, as well as project managing the implementation of a social prescribing software platform in Greater Manchester. She also delivers training in person-centred coaching within a health setting for social & clinical staff in Tameside and Glossop.

The Social Prescribing Network consists of health professionals, researchers, academics, social prescribing practitioners, representatives from the community and voluntary sector, commissioners and funders, patients and citizens. The Social Prescribing Network is working together to share knowledge and best practice, to support social prescribing at a local and national levels and to inform good quality research and evaluation. Find out more at https://www.socialprescribingnetwork.com