Encouraging uptake...

by Stuart Stokes on March 29, 2017

Once a referral has been received the next step is to encourage the person to engage with your service. If the person is keen to participate all that is required is a quick contact to book them in. Some may lack motivation and some will not take up the offer at all (see our blog post on reasons for non-participation). There is plenty that can be done when motivation is lacking ...

Timing is key

When someone has consented to the idea of your service there's a good chance that they will successfully participate. Timing is key and we shouldn't assume that they will show up. There are factors that increase the likelihood of uptake in this situation:

  • Short waits for an initial meeting
  • Good and regular contact from the service
  • A simple method (triage) to determine if the person is suitable for the programme and more importantly if the programme is suitable for the person
  • Service focused questionnaires rather than research focused

Aware but not motivated

The person is aware that they have been referred to your service but is not motivated. They may be feeling as though the service may not help them, or might have picked up on friends/colleagues prior experiences. This person is at risk of not participating.

Having clear, simple information about your service will certainly help this person to decide if the service is right for them. An offer of a no-obligation chat can help ease concerns and provides an opportunity to relay the positive impact that your programme may have on them.

Not aware but easily motivated

In this case the person is not aware that they have been referred to your service but on initial contact is warm to the idea. From a service perspective greater time is needed to explain the service, outcomes, costs, locations etc. This is time well spent and hearing more about your service and what is on offer will help increase motivation and engagement.

Having this initial contact can create a non-contract between the participant and the service. Knowing that someone is expecting them at the initial meeting, or knowing that missing this appointment may cost another person the opportunity helps to increase uptake rate.

A simple text message reminder or motivational message may be enough to make the difference. Evidence suggests that uptake rates are significantly higher when motivational text messages are used as part of the communication. Text message reminders will increase the likelihood of the person turning up to the first appointment.

Not aware and not motivated

Although referred the person is not aware that the referral has been made and have no intention of taking up the service. These inappropriate referrals can quickly consume valuable time.

When faced with this situation it is imperative that the root cause is identified. Is it down to the initial referrer making an inappropriate referral? Did the person state or indicate that they wanted to be referred simply to keep the referrer happy?

If your programme suffers from inappropriate referrals then now is the time to take action.


Often seen as the job of the programme to 'convince' a person to commence, the journey towards participation starts much further back. Good relations with your referring partners and understanding people's needs it the best place to start.

The key is to increase the number of people that come to your service that are aware and motivated. From this point removing as many barriers to participation will help increase your uptake rate.

At ReferAll we focus on uptake rather than referral rate and getting a good handle on this fairly simple metric will pay dividends.


Topics: Referral Schemes