Plus Social for Injured Workers

Plus Social logo

Plus Social is a free program for eligible injured workers who have been unable to return to work, or who have returned to work on reduced hours after an extended period.

Operating in metropolitan centres of New South Wales, the program aims to improve the wellbeing and social connectedness of injured workers. It provides more options for recovery by supporting participants to access a range of social group activities and local services based on their needs and interests. Examples include relaxation, cooking, art and photography classes, health education, financial counselling, relationship counselling and housing assistance.

Plus Social is based on the proven social prescribing model of care and is Australia’s first ever social prescribing pilot program. It complements the medical care and any other health and support services already being accessed. As a pilot program, referrals are only being accepted for a limited time.

The program ensures that injured workers receive the kind of care that improves their wellbeing, quality of life and social connectedness over the long term. Plus Social is run by Primary & Community Care Services (PCCS). A full booklet of program information and resources is available (download here) or read on below for specific material relevant to your needs.

Primary & Community Care Services gratefully acknowledges the financial and other support for this pilot program from the icare Foundation.

For Injured Workers

How does Plus Social work?

1 Referral from your health provider or self-refer
2 Meet your Link Worker
3 Talk about what you want to achieve
4 Get connected with local services
5 Begin your group activity - get social!
6 Follow up with your Link Worker

The Plus Social program uses non-medical interventions to improve the wellbeing, quality of life and social connectedness of injured workers. The program works alongside the medical care you are already receiving from your GP and rehabilitation provider, and complements any other health and support services you may be receiving. Plus Social is not a rehabilitation program or Return to Work program.

Plus Social involves a qualified and experienced Link Worker connecting participants to local social activities and services. Link Workers are employees of Primary & Community Care Services and are typically social workers, occupational therapists, nurses, psychologists and overseas trained doctors.

The program runs for 12 weeks. At the end of this period, the Link Worker will talk with you about next steps and will help you secure ongoing support if needed.

Plus Social is a pilot program that is accepting referrals for a limited time. It will be evaluated by the University of Sydney and Southern Cross University to see how effective it has been.

Why get involved with Plus Social?

Plus Social activities

If you're an injured worker who wants to improve your wellbeing, our Plus Social program can help. The program aims to help address your social, emotional, mental and practical needs by providing more options for recovery through supporting you to access a range of social group activities and local services based on your needs and interests.

Plus Social is based on the proven social prescribing approach and can help you to:

  • Build your support network
  • Get you moving and increase your confidence
  • Boost your mood.

The program is free of charge and is run independently of your workers compensation claim.

Read about some of the people we've already helped through the Plus Social program:

Who can participate in Plus Social?

Plus Social is available to injured workers who have:

  • been unable to return to work or who have returned to work on reduced hours
  • a current Certificate of Capacity from the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme
  • social, practical, mental and/or emotional needs that are impacting their quality of life and can benefit from increased social participation and/or linking to services that aim to meet these needs.

How do I participate in Plus Social?

How do I participate in Plus Social

If you are eligible to participate in Plus Social, you can either contact Primary & Community Care Services (PCCS) directly or ask your GP, rehabilitation provider or allied health professional to refer you. A referral can be made by calling or emailing PCCS, or completing the one page referral form available here.

How does Plus Social fit with my workers compensation claim?

The Plus Social program is run independently of your workers compensation claim. Your participation in Plus Social does not require approval from your insurer or employer. It is your choice whether you inform your case manager about your involvement.

Participation is voluntary and you can withdraw at any time. Withdrawal from the program will not affect your workers compensation claim in any way.

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.

Do I have to go anywhere to participate?

Yes. You will be encouraged to engage with relevant local social activity groups and support services. This will enable you to tap into a vast network of groups and services (such as relaxation and art classes, financial counselling and housing assistance).

Is there any cost to me when participating in the Plus Social program?

There is no cost to you for social activity participation/registration during your involvement with the program. You can participate in more than one group at any time throughout the program.

The cost of travel for to attend social activities or support services is not included in the program and you will be required to cover these costs. We aim to link you in with activities and services in your local area to minimise your need for travel. If travel cost is an issue, we encourage you to discuss this with your Link Worker.

What is "social prescribing", the model of care on which Plus Social is based?

Social prescribing is similar to the prescription of medication for illness but instead involves the "prescription" of activities and services to improve wellbeing and quality of life.

It is a relatively new model of care in Australia but has been used widely internationally, especially in the UK. While the evidence base is still emerging, over 30 international studies on social prescribing have demonstrated individual improvements in general health and mental wellbeing, as well as reductions in inappropriate health and social service use.

Specifically, participants in social prescribing programs have experienced improvements in self-esteem, confidence, a sense of control and empowerment, built a wider support network, and have experienced reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation as well as reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.

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

Looking for more information on Plus Social?

For GPs

How does Plus Social work?

The Plus Social program is based on the proven social prescribing model of care. It is a free 12 week program that complements a GP's usual model of medical care by using non-medical interventions to help improve the wellbeing, quality of life and social connectedness of injured workers. Plus Social is not a rehabilitation program or Return to Work program.

Plus Social and GP care models

Eligible injured workers are referred to the Plus Social program. A qualified and experienced Link Worker then connects participants to local social group activities and support services. Link Workers are employees of PCCS and are typically social workers, occupational therapists, nurses, psychologists and overseas trained doctors.

Plus Social is a pilot program which commenced in June 2017 and is accepting referrals only for a limited time. It will be evaluated by the University of Sydney and Southern Cross University to both test the social prescribing approach and measure its impact on the general health and wellbeing, social participation and readiness to return to work of injured workers.

Referral to Linking to Participation to Reporting & Evaluation to Monitoring to Impact

 

Who is eligible to participate in Plus Social?

Plus Social eligibility criteria image

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

How can I refer a patient to Plus Social?

GPs can refer eligible patients to Plus Social by faxing a completed referral form to PCCS, or calling our intake number (02) 9477 8700. The one page referral form (available here in Microsoft® Word format) is also available in formats for Best Practice and Medical Director systems, with instructions on how to import the referral form template.

How to refer

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.

Benefits to injured worker and GPs

Case Studies

Read about some of the people we've already helped through the Plus Social program:

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.
GP Poster in A3 size Plus Social patient brochure Plus Social GP waiting room TV slides

Looking for more information on Plus Social?

For Rehabilitation Providers

How does Plus Social work?

The Plus Social program is based on the proven social prescribing model of care. It is a free 12 week program that complements the work of rehabilitation providers by using non-medical interventions to help improve the wellbeing, quality of life and social connectedness of injured workers. Plus Social is not a rehabilitation program or Return to Work program.

Plus-Social Rehabilitation care models

Eligible injured workers are referred to the Plus Social program. A qualified and experienced Link Worker then connects participants to local social group activities and support services. Link Workers are employees of PCCS and are typically social workers, occupational therapists, nurses, psychologists and overseas trained doctors.

Plus Social is a pilot program which commenced in June 2017 and is accepting referrals only for a limited time. It will be evaluated by the University of Sydney and Southern Cross University to both test the social prescribing approach and measure its impact on the general health and wellbeing, social participation and readiness to return to work of injured workers.

Referral to Linking to Participation to Reporting & Evaluation to Monitoring to Impact

 

Who is eligible to participate in Plus Social?

Plus Social eligibility criteria image

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

 

How can I refer a patient to Plus Social?

Rehabilitation providers can refer eligible patients to Plus Social by either emailing or faxing a completed referral form to PCCS, or calling our intake number (02) 9477 8700. A copy of the one page referral form is available here in Microsoft® Word format

How to refer

 

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.

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, tthe Plus Social social prescribing program aims to benefit injured workers by improving their wellbeing, quality of life and social connectedness through:

  • Increasing self esteem and confidence
  • Developing a greater sense of control and empowerment
  • Supporting a positive mood linked to a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Ongoing and increasing connection to the community, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Building a wider support network.

Case Studies

Read about some of the people we've already helped through the Plus Social program:

Looking for more information on Plus Social?

Social Participation Groups

Here's a snapshot of recent groups operating:

Contact us for the most current social participation groups and locations.
Phone (02) 9477 8700 or email intake@pccs.org.au.

Real Life Stories

Read about some of the people we've already helped through the Plus Social program:

For participants, Plus Social is about:

  • Helping people adjust to unexpected changes beyond their physical health
    "I was tired of being at home. I wanted to give something new a go."
    "PCCS are a more personalised service. They got through to what I wanted. They listen."
  • Working with people to identify their unmet needs, and find a new way forward
    "With PCCS I have gone places I didn't know how to get to."
    "I've found the social prescribing program so beneficial in helping my recovery. It's also been one of my only positive social connections during the week."
  • Creating a personalised & holistic response
    "The program shows injured workers that there are genuine people out there who actually actually do care about them and their social needs."
More on Social Prescribing

Social prescribing evidence base

Plus Social in the media

Social prescribing in the media

The following selection of links provide information on social prescribing programs and experiences (not affiliated with, or endorsed by PCCS).

How to Join Plus Social

How to join Plus Social

If you are an injured worker under the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme and have been unable to return to work or have returned to work on reduced hours, you may be eligible to participate in Plus Social.

 

Primary & Community Care Services gratefully acknowledges the financial and other support for this pilot program from the icare Foundation.