Plus Social

  • 2020

  • Social Impact

Designed By:

Commissioned By:

Dr JR Baker

Designed In:


Plus Social is the first social prescribing program designed specifically for injured workers. Participants are empowered to improve their recovery journey through enhanced social connectedness and through better access to the services they need. This is achieved through a unique model incorporating especially designed groups and system navigation support.

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  • People who suffer a significant injury at work often also experience secondary psycho-social challenges which can directly impact the individual’s experience of pain and inhibit their ability to cope. This is disruptive to recovery process and can play a significant role in shaping a less successful return to work journey – causing life-long disadvantage for the individual themselves and their families. We asked: How can we address the psycho-social needs of injured workers in Australia to improve their recovery and health outcomes?

  • Plus Social is delivered through a unique, personalized service that adapts best practice principles from overseas models for the injured worker context. It is delivered as a 12-week, participant directed program. In total, over 200 consultations took place during the initial design phase. This included injured workers, Primary Health Networks, insurance agents, rehabilitation providers, GPs, friends and family members of injured workers, financial counselling organisations, employers, icare and human service organisations. A commitment to live prototyping with injured workers has been at the backbone of the program’s success, with client input informing the development of new groups and continuous improvement.

  • Research indicates that the Plus Social program delivers “significant improvements in frequency and confidence in participating in social activities and returning to work, in all measures of biopsychosocial well-being, and in reducing health service use.” Other outcomes include “greater self-awareness, social connections, and ability to cope with the effects of injury and employment loss” (Aggar et al, 2020). This represents a positive impact on injured workers, their families, workplaces and the economy. The icare Foundation Social Impact Report (Urbis, 2019) found that every dollar invested in the Plus Social program delivered social and economic benefits worth $3.80.

  • Plus Social works alongside the injured worker’s medical care and addresses their non-medical needs. It is not a rehabilitation or a Return to Work program and does not replace medical interventions. Participants work with an Allied Health professional to set individualized goals and receive system navigation support (so that they can connect with the local services that they need). They also engage with specifically designed group activities that align with their interests and which can help them achieve their goals. Many of the challenges faced by injured workers exist outside of the traditional realms of workers insurance, such as financial management and debt; relationships and family issues; psychological adjustment after an injury; social isolation, and loneliness. Through the delivery of Plus Social, Primary & Community Care Services Ltd made it possible for icare (insurance and care NSW) to incorporate a recognition of this in their practice and refer eligible injured workers for participation. To date, over 300 participants have been engaged in the program.