An asset-based approach for communities for better joined-up care
Every area has the potential to achieve more through the effective use of all the skills, knowledge and assets available within communities, including the public, private and voluntary sectors.
This is known as an asset-based approach, where the emphasis is on people’s and communities’ assets, alongside their needs.
Policy-makers, local authorities, the NHS and other providers of public services are looking to broaden their offer by tapping into the wealth of resources, capabilities and networks that are the natural fabric of the communities they serve. The aim is to signpost people to, and connect them with the types of support that are more appropriately provided by the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors.
Based on emerging evidence, SCIE suggests that there is no one-size-fits-all method of designing and implementing an asset-based approach (see Asset based places: a model for development ). At its core, it starts with the individual person and place seeking to identify and build upon existing strengths, rather than impose an external framework or preconceptions of what is required to facilitate change.
Five key enablers or building blocks can support local areas in implementing an asset-based approach.
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Leaders have an important role to play
Leaders within local government and the NHS have an important role to play. This is covered more fully in How to lead and manage better care. Key areas include:
- Leadership to develop and implement the vision of asset-based approaches, including representation from the voluntary and community sectors at strategic and governance levels.
- Co-production and partnerships to develop services, plans and strategies with local people.
- Training and development to enable frontline staff and residents to work together.
- Devolution of more power to neighbourhoods so that community groups can offer places to meet or provide community development support.
- Investment in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors.
- Inclusive commissioning that draws on the expertise of communities to prioritise outcomes that are important to them.
- Participatory budgeting to give local people a say on priority-setting and spending.
Providers should develop a clear strategy for building community capacity and assetbased approaches, which could include investing in schemes such as local area coordination, time-banking, befriending, community navigation, community circles, peer support and volunteering. Providers should also consider the role of communities in a workforce development strategy, focusing on the role of carers.
The use of digital technology, blended with offline support, is a powerful tool to support a community-centred approach – from the basics of using social media to the development of community platforms to engage, share information, provide peer support and enable collective action.
Examples of applying a community-centred approach in practice include the following:
Barnwood Trust – You’re Welcome Open
You’re Welcome is the Barnwood Trust’s community-building programme which aims to increase the involvement of disabled people and people with mental health problems in creating communities and places where everyone is included and no one is isolated.
Move More Sheffield Open
Move More is a Sheffield-wide strategy that is being delivered by partners across the city. The catalyst for Move More was the establishment of the National Centre of Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM), which is an Olympic Legacy programme. The objective in Sheffield is to create a culture of physical activity to improve the population’s health. Since it began, the strategy has commissioned three locations where medical intervention and physical activity are combined.
Visit: Move More Sheffield
Community health champions Open
Health champions are people who, with training and support, voluntarily bring their ability to relate to people and their own life experience to transform health and wellbeing in their communities. Since the success of the original community health champions in communities and workplaces, the role and supporting relationships have been adapted, allowing citizens to work as health champions in new and dynamic settings, including GP practices and acute hospitals.
Visit: Community health champions
Social prescribing in Rotherham Open
The Rotherham Social Prescribing Service is commissioned by NHS Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as part of a wider approach to GP-led integrated case management. At its core, a team of voluntary and community sector advisers (VCSAs) provides a single gateway to voluntary and community support for GPs and people who use services. The service is especially aimed at users with complex long-term conditions (LTCs) who are the most intensive users of primary care resources.
Assessment and care planning: 3 Conversations model Open
The ‘3 conversations’ model is an innovative approach to needs assessment and care planning. It focuses primarily on people’s strengths and community assets. It supports frontline professionals to have three distinct and specific conversations:
The first conversation is designed to explore people’s needs and connect them to personal, family and community sources of support that may be available.
The second conversation seeks to assess levels of risk and any crisis contingencies that may be needed, and how to address these. This conversation is client-led.
The third and final conversation focuses on long-term outcomes and planning, built around what a good life looks like to the user, and how best to mobilise the resources needed (including personal budgets), and the personal and community assets available.
The Tinder Foundation Open
Has a national network of 5,000 community centres which support people who are digitally excluded to go online.
Visit: The Tinder Foundation
Tools and resources
Asset-based places: a model for development – SCIE Open
An asset-based approach places the emphasis on people’s and communities’ assets, alongside their needs. This briefing suggests a framework for local areas to enable asset-based approaches to thrive. It is based on SCIE’s research for the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.
Building Community Capacity – Think Local Act Personal< Open
Resources and examples of helping communities to support themselves. Includes information on the ‘Building community capacity practitioners network’, which is open to anyone interested in developing strong and inclusive communities.
Community planning toolkit – Community Places Open
This is a toolkit to support the community and voluntary sectors’ involvement in future community planning processes. The toolkit is primarily for the community and voluntary sector. It will however be useful for a range of partners participating in community planning, including local authorities, elected representatives, statutory service providers and private sector interests.
The toolkit contains five themes which are essential for effective community planning practice: