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Why Meeting Face to Face Works

Published on 13 February 2020 11:45 AM

We are sometimes asked whether we would simply give a patient a phone number to get in touch with an organisation that can offer help.  The answer in 90% of cases is “no”.  Whilst there is a place for signposting, we’ve found from experience, that it is much better to meet face to face with the client to have an indepth conversation.  Social Prescribing Link Worker, Elaine Gill, explains why, with reference to a patient who was recently referred to her.

The hypothesis: 

I was referred a patient who was described as being lonely with the idea that volunteering with an animal charity might help.  I can see that the person making the referral might have thought that this would lead to some bracing walks with a muddy companion, and inevitably involve good conversation with other dog lovers.   

The reality: 

On talking to the patient, however, it became apparent that they were struggling with walking any distance and that they had some psychological issues caused by trauma in the past.  also found that they were alcohol dependent. I discussed a number of options, with the client and concluded that before they would be ready to volunteer, that it would be useful to help support them with taking steps to come to terms with their alcohol dependency.  So together we decided that this would be their first goal within their Wellbeing plan (a tool that we use at Age UK Islington to create a package of support to help clients to meet long term goals). 


This is just one example, but it goes to show that by taking the time to have an indepth discussion with a patient, we can get a much better understanding of a patient’s situation and identify: 

  1. Which organisation can provide the right support 

The support that’s right for the patient given their current circumstances – this is in terms of the type of support prescribed and which organisation is going to be best placed to support the individual.   

2. What level of wrap-around support is needed to ensure engagement 

It's not just about making a good match with an organisation that can provide the right sort of support.  The initial conversation is also key in identifying  what level of support is needed from Age UK Islington to help make sure the connection actually takes place.   

Does an Age UK Islington Link Worker or Age UK Islington Navigation Caseworker need to go along to the first meeting with the patient?  If there are multiple support inputs needed from multiple community based organisations and agencies, then is an Age UK Islington Navigation Case Worker needed to co-ordinate this care? Quite often, it can be overwhelming for clients trying to interact with lots of different agencies, providing lots of different support. 

With every piece of support that your Link Worker, or Age UK Islington Caseworker provides, they will always follow-up with the patient to make sure that the support has been effective.   

It's in this way, that we can help people move towards sustainable improvements in their wellbeing. 


More information about Social Prescribing Link Workers

Read the practitioner's guide to Age UK Islington's Social Prescribing service and their wider Wellbeing in One support