Prospects and Aspirations for Workforce Training and Education in Social Prescribing.

Abraham Makanjuola*, Mary Lynch, Llinos Spencer, Rhiannon Tudor Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: A social prescribing (SP) link worker (LW) is responsible for enabling and supporting individuals, by assessing their personal goals and co-producing solutions to make use of appropriate local non-clinical resources or interventions. As an emerging new role, LWs are not regulated by professional bodies associated with SP. Therefore, currently there is no standardised training for LWs who are from varied backgrounds. As such, LWs have varying knowledge about how to deal with individuals with complex needs, which can impact on their decision-making capabilities to seek solutions and navigate complex systems. The purpose of the research was to explore LWs' level of education, past and current training requirements as well as elicit how much LWs were willing to pay (WTP) to access and undertake training to improve their skill set.METHODS: A rigorous mixed method research design was employed which included semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders and quantitative questionnaires including contingent valuation (CV) questions to a population of LWs across Wales from March to June 2020. Qualitative interviews with key stakeholders who commission and deliver social prescribing interventions employing LWs identified perceived link worker qualities and requirements for LW roles. Purposive sampling was used to identify and select individuals that have experience in managing LWs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interviews were carried out exclusively online. LWs self-selected to complete the online questionnaires. Questionnaires gathered data on LW qualifications and demographic information with the CV questions gathering data on the value LW placed on accessing training in SP. Thematic narrative analysis was applied to interpret the data from the semi-structured interviews. Descriptive frequency analysis was conducted on the quantitative data generated from the online questionnaire.FINDINGS: SP coordinators ( n = 6) reported that 'personal skills' are the most essential skills required by LWs in SP intervention. Training is available for LWs; however, the training undertaken varies depending on the type of intervention delivered, with 70% of LWs previously undertaking training to facilitate their development as an LW. The results from the contingent valuation questionnaire ( n = 54) indicated that 100% of the respondents would avail of training. LWs were asked how much they were willing to pay as a single payment for professional training; on average, LWs were WTP GBP 58 from their personal funds to access training and the associated benefits to enhance their skills and knowledge. INTERPRETATION: The semi-structured interviews conducted with the key SP stakeholders yielded rich information and novel insight into LW training. External funding for the salary of the LW is an obstacle for LW development through training. In addition, the questionnaire results regarding stated preference techniques demonstrate that LWs place value on their professional development and would be willing to spend their own money on training to improve their knowledge and skills.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6549
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume20
Issue number16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Data Accuracy
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Workforce

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