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Wigan community link worker service evaluation

Author(s)

INNOVATION UNIT

Publisher(s):

Innovation Unit

Evaluation of the Wigan Community Link Worker (CLW) service, which was set up as a pilot in 2015 to improve the health and wellbeing of local people by helping them to access community based support and activities. It also helps those referred to use their skills and experience through volunteering. The evaluation, commissioned by Wigan Borough CCG and Wigan Council, aims to gain a better understanding of how the service is working, who is using it and what difference it is making to clients and referring services. The evaluation draws on an analysis of referral data, case studies and qualitative interviews with commissioners, people running services, patients, community link workers and representatives of voluntary and community organisations. Findings report high levels of commitment to the service from stakeholders, with health and care professionals valuing the service and promoting it to colleagues and clients. A total of 784 clients were supported between January 2015 and March 2016. Over half of these clients were over 55, with social isolation and mental health issues the most recurrent presenting issues, along with benefits and financial advice. The service is also used by number of carers. Client stories suggest that CLWs help them to feel supported and able to contribute in their community. The evaluation also found anecdotal evidence of reduced pressure on mainstream services. Recommendations include that the service retains it wide referral and low threshold for access; development of the skills of CLWs as relational workers through peer support and reflective practice; and enlists CLWs, clients and health professionals in co-designing and co-producing the service in the future. (Edited publisher abstract)

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