Unlocking community assets for better health and wellbeing

Featured article - 26 July 2017
James Sanderson, NHS England’s Director of Personalisation and Choice

Head-shot of the author, James Sanderson, NHS England’s Director of Personalisation and Choice

In this blog I'm going to make the link between Integrated Personal Commissioning and local asset-based approaches that deliver better health and well-being outcomes for people with long-term, complex needs.

Demographic and financial pressures, technological advances and changing attitudes are now forcing us to transform and expand our way of thinking about health and care. Time and time again, a more proactive, holistic and personalised approach involving greater engagement with people and their communities, has been shown as the most sustainable solution.

In my role at NHS England, we are working to roll out personalised care across the country to improve health and wellbeing; ensure better care; and provide greater value for the tax payer. Our work includes the expansion of personal health budgets to support more people with long-term, complex needs including people with mental health conditions, learning disabilities and End of Life care.

Harness existing expertise

We recognise that in order to offer more personalised care through people having more choice and control, the system must harness the existing expertise, capacity and potential of local people, families and communities. Building this local community capacity is one of the universal approaches to supporting people to stay well and build community resilience by enabling people to make informed choices in their time of need.

Integrated Personal Commissioning (IPC) is a practical delivery model and sets out a high-level vision that enables local systems to join up and personalise their approach. Asset-based approaches are one way that IPC can be delivered on the ground, as it emphasises the need to develop community capacity, peer support and co-production.

A example of how this works in practice can be seen in our IPC programme in Lincolnshire, where Community Catalysts are helping to unlock community capacity by offering people a real choice for the local support they need. The local Neighbourhood Team in Gainsborough identified a gap in support for people who needed ‘help at home’. Help at home was defined as everything short of personal care including companionship, cleaning, gardening, pet care, meals delivery and general personal assistance.

Community Catalysts worked with local people to understand and map all the services and support currently available. They quickly recognised that there was a huge amount already available that might provide more people with the support that needed to live independently in their homes – ie utilising existing community assets - which had been largely unrecognised by the health and social care system. Work was done to develop a list of small businesses, sole traders, voluntary and community organisations that offered services to the public such as meal delivery, cleaning, pet care, yoga, household maintenance and housing. Connections were forged between these individuals and organisations which enabled them to understand the need for ‘help at home’ services in their local area.

Important prevention activies

This has helped to identify and harness an untapped resource of services and support that local people can now easily reference and access, and which helps provides some important prevention activities and complements other health and care services.

This example provides a quick snap-shot about how putting into place some simple steps can help to build community capacity and encourage an asset-based approach, which is an essential ‘shift’ that gives people more informed choices about their health and well-being, and ultimately better health outcomes.

About the Personalised Health and Care Framework

The recently published Personalised Health and Care Framework helps local healthcare professionals to deliver a more personalised approach within their communities. Building on the previous Emerging Framework published in May 2016 and working closely with the Local Government Association and others, this Framework is an update for commissioners and providers about how they can use Integrated Personalised Commissioning and personal health budgets locally. It is a ‘go-to’ resource which offers guidance, practical ways and case studies in which the NHS, local government, providers and the voluntary and community sector can now all work together, including co-production.

James Sanderson

James Sanderson is the Director of Personalisation and Choice at NHS England, working within the Strategy and Innovation Directorate to oversee the personal health budgets programme, the delivery of the Integrated Personal Commissioning (IPC) Programme, Maternity Pioneers and developing and implementing new models of delivering patient choice.

James joined the team in November 2015, and was formerly Chief Executive and Accounting Officer for the Independent Living Fund (ILF). The ILF was used to support disabled people across the whole of the UK to live independent lives through the provision of direct payments enabling the purchase of personal assistance support. After graduating, James embarked on a career in the private sector before joining the ILF in 2002 to undertake a number of senior roles including Operations Director with responsibility for front line service delivery, and Business Development Director with responsibility for performance development, change management and information governance.

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