The prevention pie. Why a café is being innovative using prevention work

By SCIE’s Jen Collieson, Prevention Library project Lead

SCIE opinion – 02 March 2015

Image of Jennifer Collieson

This article originally appeared in Care Talk magazine.

At a café near Runcorn the steak and ale pie is apparently delicious; the ale is made and bottled on site. Nearby, a chicken farm provides eggs for the café’s cakes. This social enterprise is a good example of preventative social care. Because the café is run by people with learning disabilities and their supporters. And all money made is ploughed back into the social enterprise.

The cafe is found at the Norton Priory museum and gardens. The story goes that the café’s owners were looking for a new supplier when Halton council approached, asking them if they’d consider it being run by people with learning disabilities and their supporters. The owners agreed and it’s been great for everyone. It’s now firmly part of the community.

Halton Community Bridge Builders, who help people who are disabled and socially isolated to achieve things they would like to do, like those at Norton Priory, are
featured in our new ‘Prevention Library’. The library brings together the best of prevention practice; our chief executive Tony Hunter says that prevention, if done right, can help people to stay away from services for longer and to help them contribute to their communities.

But what do a few clinking tea cups have to do with preventing someone's health and care needs getting worse? Shouldn't resources go on those in crisis? Well, the idea is to reduce, delay and prevent the development of crises, rather than waiting to react to them once they occur. 

Demand for health and social care is increasing at the same time that budgets have been tightening. But, following the Care Act of 2014, and from April when it becomes law, providing prevention services will be a statutory duty for local authorities. Councils, the NHS and others are now more and more responsible for commissioning or providing prevention services.

Rather than encouraging dependence on traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ based day-care services and instead of passively receiving traditional day centre activities, users of the Halton service now have opportunities to spend a varied and rewarding day, contributing to the day-to-day running of a business. And they get confidence and a sense of self-value.

But they also become more independent rather than dependent on traditional services. Some people with learning disabilities display challenging behaviour but their involvement with the café and other facilities has meant they now often need less support; in one case, the supporter-to-user ratio was three-to-one. Now it’s two-to-one. Very encouraging and very preventative.

The café, and the other facilities at the site, are just part of the story. Halton Community Services operates within 22 community venues across the borough and provides meaningful daytime activity for the people who use its services. Three people have even been found an employment opportunity outside the scope of the service. One hundred and forty five adults with a learning disability are currently enjoying multiple work experience opportunities in the local area, either as trainee stylists, brewers, catering assistants and customer care assistants.

These are the types of examples of services that we want to promote on our Prevention Library. Do let us know yours and give us feedback on the site.  


SCIE’s Prevention Library

The café featured in a film on the Prevention Library resource

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Halton Community Services/