Asset-based places

Engaging communities to support integrated health and social care: using asset-based places

What are asset-based approaches?

Cultivating partnerships with local voluntary services, housing associations and other community organisations creates capacity for self-care and social prescribing. This connects people to a wealth of community resources – or assets.

Asset-based approaches to community development foster, and tap into, local people’s resources and capabilities to enhance their health and wellbeing, and promote their resilience and independence.

The range of assets they seek to mobilise encompass community relationships and social networks; and community and neighbourhood services, activities and facilities. These include libraries, parks and leisure centres, as well as the programmes and activities that the voluntary sector offers.

  • Video transcript Open

    Actively cultivating partnerships with local voluntary services, housing associations and other community organisations is a key aspect of integrated care, connecting people to a wealth of community resources – or what are called assets.

    Asset-based approaches are a means to enhance people’s health and wellbeing, and promote their resilience and independence.

    The range of assets encompasses community relationships and social networks; and community and neighbourhood services, activities and facilities.

    Asset-based  approaches have been shown to support people’s resilience and independence, personalised care and support; prevention and self care.

    There are many useful examples and a growing body of evidence of the impact and success of asset-based approaches.

    Examples include Community circles, Peer support and Social prescribing - the means by which primary care professionals, such as GP’s, refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services.

    The evidence suggests that effective deployment of asset-based approaches depends on some key building blocks.

    • reframing the narrative about people and communities - shifting the emphasis from deficits and needs to strengths and assets
    • creating an ethos of co-production, focusing on wellbeing
    • effective joint commissioning, partnership working and community engagement
    • local service directories to support personalised care planning and self care
    • and mechanisms for connecting people to each other and to wider community assets.

    There is promising evidence that through social prescribing and an asset-based approach to integrated care, people’s wellbeing and experiences can be improved, reducing loneliness and supporting self-care.

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Why do asset-based approaches matter for integrated care?

Statutory, voluntary and community services are working together in well-integrated health and care systems.

Mobilising community assets builds local capacity to provide a wider range of support services for people receiving integrated care.

Asset-based approaches to community development have been shown to support people’s resilience and independence; personalised care and support; prevention and self-care.

There are many useful examples and a growing body of evidence of their impact, such as:

  • local area coordination (LAC)
  • Shared Lives schemes
  • community circles
  • community enterprise development
  • asset-based community development (ABCD)
  • time banks
  • peer support
  • community navigators and community links
  • social prescribing.

What do asset-based approaches need to succeed?

The evidence suggests that effective deployment of asset-based approaches depends on some key building blocks:

  • reframing the narrative about people and communities – shifting the emphasis from deficits and needs to strengths and assets
  • creating an ethos of co-production and focusing on wellbeing
  • effective joint commissioning, partnership working and community engagement
  • local service directories to support personalised care planning
  • mechanisms for connecting people to each other and to wider community assets, through social prescribing, peer mentors, link workers and care navigators.

What is the evidence for outcomes and impact?

Using community assets to support integrated care is relatively new. The evidence is still emerging and varies depending on the characteristics of each specific scheme.

There is promising evidence that social prescribing improves people’s wellbeing and experience, reduces loneliness and supports self-care. Some programme evaluations also suggest that community connectors and social prescribing may have a significant impact on health service utilisation, resulting for instance in reduced GP consultations and A&E attendance.

Similarly, the experience of Shared Lives schemes demonstrate that by facilitating intergenerational relationships and supporting companionships, these programmes can reduce loneliness, increase choice and independence, and improve the overall wellbeing of both service users and carers.