Social prescribing link workers - a qualitative Australian perspective

Sharman, L., McNamara, N. ORCID: 0000-0003-3123-3678, Hayes, S. and Dingle, G., 2022. Social prescribing link workers - a qualitative Australian perspective. Health and Social Care in the Community. ISSN 0966-0410

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Social prescribing (or community referral) is a model of healthcare designed to address social needs that contribute to poor health. At the heart of social prescribing programs is the link worker, who liaises between clients, health professionals, and community organisations. Social prescribing is newly emerging in Australia but there are already calls for a large-scale roll out. This research therefore aimed to understand Australian link workers’ role and skills required, to determine where such a workforce could be drawn from in Australia, and to identify what training and resources are needed to support this potential new workforce. To explore these questions, interviews were conducted with 15 link workers in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, and the transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Participants were predominantly female (87%); and primarily had qualifications in social work (47%) or nursing (27%). Three overarching themes were identified: (1) skills of successful social prescribing, identifying that link work requires multifaceted social and emotional skills; (2) workforce issues, presenting that link workers experienced challenges such as a lack of available support and training, lack of public awareness of social prescribing, and a lack of sustained funding; and (3) job fulfilment, related to link workers’ sense of reward and accomplishment from the job. We suggest that fostering job fulfilment in conjunction with the provision of increased support, training, and security will reduce feelings of overwork and burnout among link workers and likely lead to longevity in the role. Social prescribing has the potential to be hugely beneficial to clients and the community and fulfilling for link workers, provided that sufficient advocacy and resources are put in place.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Health and Social Care in the Community
Creators: Sharman, L., McNamara, N., Hayes, S. and Dingle, G.
Publisher: Wiley
Date: 22 October 2022
ISSN: 0966-0410
Rights: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: SHARMAN, L., MCNAMARA, N., HAYES, S. and DINGLE, G., 2022. Social prescribing link workers - a qualitative Australian perspective. Health and Social Care in the Community, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 10 Oct 2022 15:28
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2023 03:00

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