SPOT the difference

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‘SPOT the difference’: a programme to facilitate post-Covid mutual understanding and networking between Social Prescribers and Occupational Therapists in Greater Manchester.

Delivered by Salford Social Prescribing Hub, based at the University of Salford UK, the programme is completely FREE OF CHARGE to participants because it is funded by the Elizabeth Casson Trust.

This programme will bring together Link Workers and Occupational Therapists in Greater Manchester in order to learn from each other, create links between services, and explore opportunities to make a difference to each other’s practice. Specifically, this addresses the increase in ongoing and potentially long-term health challenges in the general population brought about by Covid-19, and the consequent need for innovative and multi-disciplinary approaches to rehabilitation.


People are surviving the acute phase of Covid-19, and while the exact numbers of people recovering are not yet known (Full Fact 2020) there are and will be over 200,000 survivors. International evidence is increasingly highlighting that life changing impact following Covid-19 can occur.  As we gain more experience of the virus it is becoming clear that many survivors have significant ongoing health and functional challenges requiring medium to long term community multidisciplinary rehabilitation (Murray et al 2020, RCOT 2020).

Social prescribing is potentially well placed to offer both innovative and multidisciplinary solutions to rehabilitation. A key component of Universal Personalised Care, social prescribing creates pathways for local agencies, usually GPs, to refer people to a link worker, who then connects people to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support (NHS England 2020). Occupational Therapists work in a variety of health and social care settings, often supporting people with long term conditions, through engagement with meaningful activity. The link worker role is still an emerging one within health and social care whereas OT is much more established, however the professions are largely unknown to each other despite there being much to gain from collaboration.

The Salford Social Prescribing Hub in the University of Salford has been working to improve and enrich social prescribing, including delivering training to link workers based on insights from Occupational Therapy and developing the GM link worker peer learning network. In the course of our work, we have heard first-hand how overwhelmed and unsupported link workers can feel when working with highly complex service users in the community. Given that link workers most commonly have a non-medical background, the addition of health impacts following Covid-19 will only make this situation harder.

Occupational therapists and link workers have different skills, approaches and education, but share an understanding of the importance of enabling people to connect with each other and their communities, in the pursuit of doing things that feel meaningful and important to them. They are both considered key to supporting the rehabilitation and wellbeing of people affected physically and/or mentally by Covid-19, and who are recovering in their own homes and communities during a time of restriction and reduced connection with others. (Centre for Evidence Based Medicine 2020, RCOT 2020).

Programme aims

This programme will:

  • Develop innovative approaches to post Covid-19 rehabilitation specifically and population health more generally;
  • Value and recognise the roles of link worker and occupational therapist as professionals with distinct but complementary skills in relation to community wellbeing;
  • Develop a Community of Practice between Link Workers and Occupational Therapists across GM, to share experiences and good practice, and problem-solve local challenges and barriers;
  • Create strategic links between Social Prescribing and Occupational Therapy services in GM to improve and enrich the delivery of services;
  • Contribute to Occupational Therapists’ and Link Workers’ professional development.

Programme structure and information

The programme will be largely structured around three two-hour online sessions, complemented by an online discussion forum and repository of resources.

  • A ‘course’ of three two-hour online sessions (due to Covid-19 restrictions) for up to 15 participants per course.
  • Each ‘course’ will be run 3 times, each focusing on a cluster of GM boroughs.
  • Sessions will be co-delivered by an occupational therapist and a link worker.
  • There will be an online discussion forum and resource repository to facilitate an ongoing community of practice and the overall aims of the programme (possibly on Facebook – TBC)

Participation in the programme is free of charge. We ask that potential participants discuss with their managers to secure the time needed to participate in the programme before booking a place.

Course Dates

Participants attend one course only and should choose the course that covers their geographical area of work. This is so that genuine, useful relationship building, and networking can occur, and be carried into practice. All courses will be online.


Begins Tuesday 15th September 2020 2-4 pm, and for the next two Tuesdays.


Begins Tuesday 6th October 2020 2-4 pm, and for the next two Tuesdays.


Begins Tuesday 27th October 2020 2-4pm, and for the next two Tuesdays.

How to participate

To find out more about the programme please contact: 

To book onto a course – click the link for your area below:

Manchester, Rochdale and Bury

Stockport, Tameside and Oldham

Trafford, Salford, Wigan and Bolton