Realising the value of people and communities through collaborative working


In her latest NHS Voices post, Dr Sally Hayes and colleagues provide a glimpse into some of the ways a community partnership in Leeds – involving clinicians, academics, the local community and council – is making a positive impact on health outcomes.

In my last NHS Voices post, I discussed how Leeds Beckett University is working with  communities and stakeholder organisations – including the third sector – to build the evidence base to address how to harness the renewable energy of people and communities to reduce health inequalities. 

This work is founded on a belief that asset-based approaches are key (see Hopkins et al 2015), seeking answers to the question ‘what matters’, rather than ‘what is the matter’ or ‘what is wrong’, to design services to address deficits. That is, identifying, promoting, and strengthening the factors that support good health and wellbeing, in order to protect against poor health and foster communities and networks that sustain health. 

This approach has recently been supported and evidenced in the NESTA publication At the heart of health: realising the value of people and communities, which argues that health and care services need to work alongside individuals, carers, families, social networks, and thriving communities to fully support the delivery of the NHS Five Year Forward View vision.

This approach is demonstrated in our work with one of our CommUNIty strategic partners, St George’s Crypt

Using the academic expertise and skills available through the university, combined with the experience and frontline knowledge of St George’s Crypt, and working with the local NHS and clinicians, the CommUNIty partnership has forged a relationship aimed at progressing these outcomes in a practical setting.

This is best shown by a recent NHS Participation in the Community grant to produce innovative and informative media to highlight the need for working with communities and service user advocates, the output of which is demonstrated though this film, St. George’s Crypt – NHS England, Celebrating Participation in Healthcare, which was launched at a CommUNIty event last month.

As the film demonstrates, this partnership is building on a foundation of mutual benefit to both develop real impact within our (Leeds Beckett’s) diverse course and research portfolio, while giving St George’s the evidence it needs to address real health needs in a particular vulnerable population – the homeless.

From building the case for occupational therapy deployment to financial evaluations of a hospital discharge programme; assessing the benefits of arts-based therapy to scoping the long-term sustainability of such projects, the partnership is investigating and evidencing both the need and long-term cost saving of working with the NHS, the council and community advocates and organisations to support positive health outcomes.

Specifically the hospital discharge project demonstrated that the service St George’s Crypt offers cut costs to the NHS per patient per night by 55 per cent. It also highlighted the ancillary training and engagement benefits the Crypt offers (physiotherapy, mental health assessments, housing support, benefits advice, arts-based therapy, drug and alcohol rehabilitation advice) as a potential source of social return – something the partnership is in the process of investigating.

With the provision of occupational therapists (OT), the Crypt and Leeds Beckett devised an MSc project to investigate the need which formed the foundation of a successful bid to pilot an OT service. This pilot project will be strengthened by a cost-benefit analysis MBA project carried out by Leeds Beckett students and will hopefully lead to a successfully commissioned community healthcare service delivered by the Crypt, assessed by the university and funded by the NHS.

I will end by repeating the challenge I made in my last blog post! 

How could your organisation work differently with both PEOPLE and COMMUNITIES to build on our assets together?

This post was written by:

  • Dr Sally Hayes, Associate Dean, Strategic Planning and Development, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Leeds Beckett University. @DrSallyHayes @leedsbeckett
  • Andrew Omond, PR and Project Development lead, St George's Crypt. @CryptLeeds
  • Professor Michelle Briggs, School of Health and Community Studies, Leeds Beckett University.

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