How does Plus Social for Injured Workers work?

This free, new pilot program aims to support people with a workplace injury by improving their overall wellbeing and quality of life.

The program does this through its Link Workers who connect participants to community groups and support services to improve their wellbeing and increase their social support networks. Examples of community activities may include relaxation classes, gardening groups, art classes, and services such as financial counselling, housing assistance and relationship counselling.

This approach is based on the social prescribing model of care.

The 12-week Plus Social for Injured Workers program is run by PCCS and funded by the icare Foundation.

It is not a rehabilitation program or a Return to Work Program and does not replace medical care. Plus Social works alongside the medical care an injured worker is receiving and aims to address their non-medical needs.
The program is completely separate to an injured worker’s insurance claim so does not require approval
from an injured worker’s insurer or employer.

For injured workers who haven’t made a full return to work, Plus Social for Injured Workers may help:
• Build their support networks
• Get them moving and increase their confidence
• Boost their mood.

Participation in the program is entirely voluntary.

Who is eligible to participate?

Workers expected to return to work full-time within four (4) weeks are excluded from participation.

How do I refer?

FAQs

What happens once the injured worker has been referred to the Plus Social program?

Once PCCS has received a completed referral form, a Link Worker will contact the injured worker and make an appointment to meet with them in their home or local area. The Link Worker conducts a needs assessment to identify individual needs and goals, and develops an action plan.

The Link Worker then connects the Plus Social participant into appropriate group social activities (e.g. relaxation, cooking and art classes) where they can meet other people with similar needs and interests. These connections can be sustained even after a specific social participation group ends.

The Link Worker also assists participants to access services and supports they need to address other complex needs (e.g. relationship counselling, housing assistance).

The Link Worker supports the injured worker throughout the program which may include attending social groups with the participant and/or phone follow ups.

At the end of the 12 week program, the Link Worker assists the participant to secure ongoing support as required.

What information will I receive about the injured worker I have referred during the course of the program?

As the injured worker's referring GP, PCCS will send you a summary of their action plan early in the program. At completion of Plus Social, PCCS will send you a summary of the services accessed by and links provided to the injured worker. However, if the injured worker advises their Link Worker that they do not wish this information to be shared with the referring GP, PCCS will abide by the participant's wishes and not provide this information.

Should the Link Worker identify any health concerns, the injured worker will be referred back to you for follow up.

How does Plus Social fit with the injured worker's workers compensation claim?

The Plus Social program is run independently of an injured worker's workers compensation claim. Participation in Plus Social does not require approval from their insurer or employer, and it is the patient's choice whether they inform their case manager about their involvement.

Participation is voluntary and participants can withdraw at any time without any affect on the their workers compensation claim.

Plus Social is not a rehabilitation program or a Return to Work program. It is run by Primary & Community Care Services and is funded by the icare Foundation.

Where is Plus Social currently available?

Services are currently available in the Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle and Wollongong areas.

What is social prescribing?

Social Prescribing is about: 'Enabling healthcare professionals to refer patients to a link worker to co-design a non-clinical social prescription to improve their health and wellbeing.' (Source: Social Prescribing Network Conference Report 2016)

While social prescribing is quite an established and growing framework used by GPs internationally and particularly in the UK, it is still relatively 'new' in Australia. Social prescribing provides GPs and other primary healthcare professionals the facility to prescribe additional (non-medical) services not normally available in the current health system to improve patient health and wellbeing. It is a model of care that is consistent with the person-centred care approach that now forms the foundation of our health and social care sectors.

While the evidence base is still emerging, early research indicates measurable improvements in patient care and wellbeing, especially in marginalised patient groups. It's potential to improve treatment and recovery for injured workers is very promising.

Plus Social is Australia's first ever social prescribing pilot program. We hope it will become a mainstream option to link patients with long-term health conditions in the primary care setting to psychosocial services in the community to improve their wellbeing and quality of life.

Why use social prescribing?

There are more than 30 international studies on social prescribing that have shown individual improvements in general health and mental wellbeing, as well as reductions in inappropriate health and social service use. Evidence behind social prescribing programs is well established in the UK, USA and other OECD countries.

We have put together a short document that discusses the emerging evidence base for the social prescribing model.

In particular, the Plus Social social prescribing program aims to benefit both injured workers and GPs.

Resources for Practices

Please contact us via (02) 9477 8700 or intake@pccs.org.au if you are interested in displaying Plus Social resources at your practice. These resources include:

An A3 poster
Patient brochure
slides that can be displayed from USB stick on most waiting room televisions.