Description: Referral describes the act of sending someone to another person or place for treatment, help, advice, etc. Within the context of social prescribing, a referral can be to a social prescribing practitioner, and from a social prescribing practitioner or someone who undertakes social prescribing as part of their role to appropriate community assets.

A referral to a social prescribing practitioner can be from a professional working in a clinical setting (e.g., GP, pharmacist or physiotherapist), statutory service, or a community and voluntary sector organisation.

An individual can also directly access social prescribing through self-referral. Self-referral describes the process of an individual contacting someone who works in the role of a social prescribing practitioner or someone who undertakes social prescribing as part of their role, without having received an onward referral to that person. Self-referral does not describe someone directly accessing community assets (for example, attending an art class).

The term social prescription might also be used to describe the act of referral in social prescribing. For example, an individual might receive a social prescription from a social prescribing practitioner for nature-based activities.

Targeted referral is where a social prescribing service proactively offers early social prescribing support for individuals or populations who have a specifically identified need, such as individuals with chronic health conditions, or patients within a specialist service such as a ‘burns unit’. The need for targeted referrals could be identified through local evidence such as a population needs analysis or by health professionals taking a risk stratification approach to their patient group. A proactive approach may also be developed within particular settings, for example within a population of university students where community-based support would improve their wellbeing and prevent more serious issues arising.

Alternative Terms: introduction, linkage

Connected Terms: Action planning, active signposting, asset mapping, care navigator, community assets, Community & Voluntary Sector Organisations, digital social prescribing, health facilitator, social prescribing, social prescribing models, social prescribing pathway, social prescribing practitioner, statutory services, what matters conversation.

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