Gathering data and evaluating your social prescribing service

It is vital to be clear about how you monitor and evaluate your social prescribing service, and this could be set in the planning stages.  These written and film case studies show different approaches to evaluation.


Key Principles for Evaluation

Here are some key principles to consider when integrating evaluation in your social prescribing service:

  • Setting your outcomes - have clear statement outcomes of your service
  • Data collection - there are different ways to collect information about the difference you are making and fit evaluation into your service - you can make best use of data already collected
  • Analysing and reporting - understand and present your data in a meaningful way
  • Learning from your findings - use your findings to communicate what you have learnt and change your practice


(Reference from Evaluation Support Scotland)


Evaluation of wider developments

Evaluation has been a vital process in wider developments in determining what works and improving a service.  Below are some links which may be useful:


Social return on investment
Health economic evaluation is a tool for assessing the balance of these costs and benefits in practice. It measures the costs and benefits of alternative ways of providing a service. Potential benefits include cost savings but can also include improvements in a range of dimensions of patient health and well-being, such as quality of life, activities of daily living and mental health. They also include increases in productivity, both in paid and unpaid work, either in the home or in the voluntary sector. A comprehensive economic evaluation should ideally include an assessment of these wider benefits.

The advantages of economic evaluation include a standardised approach to the analysis of costs and benefits. It also has the potential to provide an explicit summary of the costs and benefits, which can be used by policymakers and resource holders to compare a variety of different approaches to patient management.  See Social prescribing Implementation Guidance for more information.


Links Worker Programme

The Deep End reports. The Links Worker Programme aims to explore how the primary care teams can support peopleto live well in their community.

The Health and Social Care Alliance (the ALLIANCE) library resources have a full range of six 'Record of Learning' documents in PDF. Look for these and click on arrow opposite:

-        Links Worker Programme Record of Learning Module: developing governance and management

-        Record of Learning Module: recruiting for the Links Worker Programme

-        Record of Learning Module: working with general practice

-        Record of Learning Module: induction, training and evolution of the links worker role

-        Record of Learning Module: Context and Creation of the Programme

-        Links Worker Programme Record of Learning Module: a learning programme


Suite of tools based on current examples with a variety of models and approaches

ESRC – meaningful and measurable approach personal outcomes 

Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS)

NHS Health Scotland – Evaluation

Education Scotland – self-evaluation tools
NHS Scotland Quality Improvement Hub – quality improvement tools

Scottish Evaluation Network