Self-referral in social prescribing is a way in which people, looking to find help to tackle their physical or mental health, can refer themselves into a social prescribing service.
Self-referral into the Social Prescribing System
Many organisations allow a person to self-refer themselves into their social prescribing service. This often happens via an online platform, which will allow a person to fill in their details, which sends their details to a social prescribing digital system. Other options are calling into the service or sending across an email.
By self-referring a person skips the step of for instance a General Practitioner having to refer a person to a social prescriber. This is in particular helpful if an individual already knows it is looking for a non-medical way to tackle their mental or physical health problems.
Advantages of self-referrals
There are great advantages to self-referrals in social prescribing, both on the end of individuals and for the service.
Individuals referring themselves to the service they need or even referring themselves into a social prescribing service means a GP or link worker doesn’t have to. General Practitioners are saved the time of having to refer these people in.
If a person refers themselves directly into an actual provider of social prescribing services (such as Age UK), then another step can be skipped, namely that of the link worker. This can be a great time saver for link workers as they have been busy managing a great number of cases due to the strain on mental and physical health caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Rather than having to go from GP to link worker to social prescribing service provider, self-referral means you can skip one or even two steps when looking for help, which means you will be able to use an appropriate service you feel fits with your needs sooner.
Due to the high workload of GPs, they can often only spare 10 minutes with a person to work out any issues that they have. This can be discouraging.
If a person knows it is a holistic approach they’re after, social prescribing and a self-referral into this system means they get a dedicated time slot of approximately 40 minutes with a link worker to work out what they need help with and how.
Disadvantages of self-referral
Though social prescribing can be beneficial in many situations, the service offers non-clinical intervention and at times a clinical intervention is indeed needed. By missing this dedicated time with GPs exploring both options might be helpful, bearing in mind that holistic practices have many positive effects that can mean one no longer has to rely on medicine to get better.
Missing out on dedicated time from a link worker
If a person skips the help from a link worker altogether, they might miss out on valuable time that might motivate them to take action for your own health. A link worker does not just serve as a portal through which an individual is signposted. They can help with offering support, setting up an action plan to get better and find a fitting solution.