FRC Social Prescribing Project 

How Community Referral Works

Who is the service user?
Social prescribing is for adults over the age of 18 years, including (but not exclusively) people:

  • With one or more long-term conditions.

  • Who have complex social needs which affect their health and wellbeing. 

  • Who are lonely or isolated.

  • Who needs support with their mental health.

  • Who frequently attend GP/ED and may benefit from other social support outside of clinical services. 


Who refers the service user to the Link worker?

Referrals to a social prescribing link worker come from various sources, including:

  • GPs, nurses, community mental health teams, and health and social care professionals.

  • Older people services, the community and voluntary sector, and self-referral.

The role of the Link Worker

The social prescribing link worker aims to connect people with community groups, organisations, and statutory services for practical and emotional support to improve their health and wellbeing. They may also link people back into HSE programmes and services where appropriate, e.g., diabetes support courses, Living Well programmes, stress prevention programmes, smoking cessation services, and the like.

Link workers focus on what matters to the person and work in true collaboration with a person over a period of time. The link worker collaborates with the person on their needs and goals using a personalised coaching and co-production approach. The social prescribing link worker helps motivate, support, and empower individuals to achieve the change(s) they want. It is essential to highlight that social prescribing is not a replacement for adequate clinical services or a social work or counselling service.


One of the key tasks of a link worker is to co-produce a personalised health and wellbeing plan with the client. This may include:

  • What matters to the person.

  • Establishing goals.

  • Professional supports that someone may require.

  • Locally community and voluntary organisations, activities, and groups.​

Where a referrer is unsure of the appropriateness of a referral to social prescribing, this can be discussed with the social prescribing link worker beforehand. Likewise, the social prescribing link worker can revert to the referrer if the referral is inappropriate. 

For more information, please read HSE Social Prescribing Framework, Mainstreaming social prescribing in partnership with community & voluntary organisations.