Taking an asset-based approach to health and care in Greater Manchester

Featured article - 17 July 2017
Jon Rouse, Chief Officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership

Head-shot of the author, Jon Rouse, Chief Officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership

Every community is asset-rich, containing a unique mix of skills, networks and resources that can – when brought together - help to improve the health and wellbeing of local people. Greater Manchester, as we have seen in good times but also recently in the face of tragedy, is a fine example of a network of powerful communities. It is a thriving, diverse and spirited place with massive - sometimes unlocked – potential for people to come together and support one another.

This is why our plan for health and care in Greater Manchester - Taking Charge Together - embraces the concept of asset-based community development. It recognises and celebrates the diversity of our communities and neighbourhoods – combining their inherent strengths and resources, with those of the public, voluntary, community and private sectors. Critically, our plan is not about ‘palming off’ responsibility for care and support to local residents – it is a genuine commitment to pooling and supporting the skills and assets of our community as a whole.

Over the coming months we will be pushing forward with ambitious plans - co-produced with local people - to grow Greater Manchester into an asset-based place, where we identify some of the most successful models across health, social care and housing, and scale them up to their full potential. We will build on the best of local practice and evidence of what works elsewhere.

For example, The Wigan Deal is an informal agreement between the council and everyone who lives or works in the area. The Council has committed to a series of pledges and in return asks residents and businesses to play their part too. Wigan has invested £7.5 million to grow social enterprises and community projects that reach the parts that the Council cannot. Over the last five years, they have reduced council budgets by over £100 million whilst improving services and increasing resident and staff satisfaction.

And the Evie initiative in Bolton uses digital technology to deliver peer-to-peer support to people recovering from alcohol misuse.

We are currently working with SCIE, who we commissioned to conduct an evidence review of asset-based approaches.

SCIE identifies five building blocks that are essential to creating an asset based place:

  • Reframing towards assets
  • Recognising people’s assets
  • Connecting people to assets
  • Mobilising and growing assets
  • Monitoring impact and learning.

Greater Manchester’s strategy builds on this model.

I am confident that Greater Manchester, through its landmark agreement with the Government to take charge of health and social care spending and decisions, has a unique opportunity to develop a different relationship between services and citizens. An asset based approach, which encourages all elements of the community to draw on their own capabilities and support one another, is an essential component of that different way of working. The time is ripe to grow the assets we all possess.

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