Qualifications and training needs of social prescribing link workers: an explorative study

Llinos Spencer*, Mary Lynch, Abraham Makanjuola

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference or Meeting Abstractpeer-review

Abstract

AbstractBackground A social prescribing link worker is responsible for enabling and supporting individuals, by assessing their needs and co-producing solutions to make use of appropriate, local, non-clinical resources or interventions.Because the role is new, link workers might not have professional backgrounds in dealing with individuals with complex needs, which can affect their decision making for the referral of individuals to appropriate community assetsto support their needs. The aim of this work was to explore link workers’ level of education, and past and current training needs, and to ascertain how much link workers were willing to pay to access and complete training toimprove their skill set.Methods A mixed-methods approach was used, including semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders whocommission and deliver social prescribing interventions employing link workers, and a stated preference techniquesquestionnaire containing contingent valuation questions. A thematic analysis approach was used to identify conceptsof interest to develop the survey, which contained stated preference techniques to estimate the value of access totraining by link workers. Descriptive statistics were used to describe and summarise the data.Findings 54 respondents took the survey. 23 (43%) held an undergraduate degree and 13 (24%) held a Masters’ degreeas their highest level of education; the remainder 18 (33%) did not have a graduate qualification. Social prescribingcoordinators (n=6) interviews and link worker surveys (n=54) reported personal skills as the most essential skillsrequired by link workers in developing relationships for effective social prescribing interventions. Training is availablefor link workers; however, training varies depending on the type of intervention delivered, with 38 (70%) of 54 linkworkers previously completing training to facilitate their development as a link worker. Results from the statedpreference techniques questionnaire (n=54) indicated that 100% of the respondents would consider benefitting fromtraining. Link workers are willing to pay an average of £58 from their personal funds to access training and theassociated benefits to enhance their skills and knowledge.Interpretation Our findings suggest that training needs to be included in social innovation funding applications toensure that link workers receive adequate training to carry out their role of effective future social prescribinginterventions. For the community of practice in social prescribing, training for link workers should be made availablein their own local areas. External funding for the salary of the link worker is an obstacle for link worker developmentthrough training. Willingness-to-pay findings suggest that link workers place value on their professional developmentand would be willing to spend their own money on training to improve their knowledge and skills.Funding AM is supported by a KESS 2 studentship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S79
Number of pages1
JournalLancet
Volume400
Issue numberSpecial Issue
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • social prescribing
  • link worker
  • Wales
  • wellbeing
  • well-being
  • qualifications
  • training

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