This paper presents findings from an evaluation of a social prescribing service, undertaken between January 2019 and December 2020. Data was collected through interviews and focus groups with a range of groups including social prescribing managers, link workers (LWs), referrers (GPs and social work practitioners), clients, Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) agencies and groups. Thematic analysis of data was undertaken, and findings were presented in respect of clients' journeys into social prescribing; the support received from LWs; their onward journeys to VCS support. The findings highlight the challenges for individuals in contacting new agencies/groups and the importance of practitioner referral into and onwards from social prescribing, as well as buddying to support clients on initial agency visits. The depth of the LW role is highlighted, as well as the complexity of client circumstances, highlighting a need for ‘more than signposting’, and challenging the notion of self-referral as an indicator of motivation. Social prescribing has been positioned as amongst the solutions to the challenges of primary care. However, referrals from GPs were low and significantly outnumbered by those from social workers; this suggests a need to explore in greater depth the use of social prescribing by social workers, who have, to date, been absent from social prescribing research.
White, C., Bell, J., Reid, M., & Dyson, J. (2022). More than signposting: Findings from an evaluation of a social prescribing service. Health and Social Care in the Community, https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.13925