The Wellbeing Alliance

This is reblogged from my Dept Health blog.

The Joint VCSE Review this year recommended 28 changes to the way national and local government invests in – and works with – the VCSE sector.  We identified a shared goal for government, the NHS and the VCSE sector: to help people, families and communities achieve and maintain their own wellbeing.

There was wide agreement that this is best achieved when people and communities are actively involved in co-designing systems and services.

The VCSE sector, therefore, has two vital roles: 1) To make sure people from all groups and communities get involved in the co-design process and 2) To help deliver more person-centred and community-based services.

Today sees the launch of applications for the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, which we recommended as the national flagship programme to embed the role of VCSE organisations within the health and care system.

VCSE organisations recruited to the alliance will need to demonstrate their reach into local, small scale or specialist charities, social enterprises and community groups. Likewise, they must be committed to helping the Department of Health, NHS England, Public Health England and other national bodies hear the voices of people and communities who use health and care services, so that policies are truly ‘co-produced’.

The alliance, along with a fund expected to be launched early in the new financial year, form the Health and Wellbeing Programme, which will be the place where central government, NHS England and Public Health England come together with VCSE organisations to drive transformation of health and care systems. This single, integrated programme builds on the successes of its predecessor, the Voluntary Sector Investment Programme.

The final report of the Joint Review was published in May and since then work has been progressing to implement the 28 recommendations made.

An oversight group, which includes representatives of a broad cross section of the VCSE sector and government, has been established to oversee the implementation of the recommendations. Some are long term changes, but I’m heartened by the enthusiasm with which a number of agencies have embraced shorter term recommendations about how the state and the VCSE sector can work more effectively together. For example, CQC are thinking about how to include the value of personalisation, social action and the use of volunteers as they review their Key Lines of Enquiry.

Meanwhile, NHS England and partners are developing a social prescribing programme. Some areas are creating living maps of their VCSE assets, which is a vital first step to treating them as partners.

The Joint Review also set out challenges to the VCSE sector itself: to help drive the shift towards ‘asset-based’ approaches (which build people’s capabilities and resilience), to keep and build its roots in local communities and to demonstrate its impact.

The VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance is an opportunity to rise to those challenges, which I hope many organisations in our sector will embrace.

Go Shared Lives!

This is a guest blog from Michelle McDaid, a policy manager at the Department of Health, who has often worked behind the scenes to develop policies which help make the Shared Lives model a possibility for more people. Michelle’s blog has also appeared on the Dept Health website:

On a Friday in April I had the privilege to visit a Shared Lives family in Bexley. Through Shared Lives Plus I was put in touch with Bexley Council and the brilliant Catherine Nairn who is the Manager of the Bexley Shared Lives Scheme.

Going out to visit Shared Lives is something I have wanted to do and experience for a very long time. But like lots of things, I kept putting it off. Pressure of work and all that!!  I work in social care policy at the Department of Health. One of the areas we look at is improvement in the quality of care, for both those using it and for the staff who work in it. Over the years I have worked very closely with Alex and Mark at Shared Lives Plus, on Shared Lives issues. But I have to confess that I never took the time to go out and meet a family.

The Department runs something called Connecting. It’s a ‘back-to-the-floor’ scheme to help staff connect to the experiences of patients and people using services. As a ‘policy maker’ it is vital for me to see in action the people who provide and use the adult social care system. I couldn’t do my job without doing so – which is why I jumped at the chance to go out to Bexley.

I visited the council offices first where I met Catherine. I also met Caroline Maclean Head of Service, Complex Care and the Council’s director of adult social care Tom Brown and Mandy Grandini who works alongside Catherine.

We had a long and extremely interesting chat about Shared Lives. I learnt all about the Scheme in Bexley – all about the vetting process – how the Scheme is set up and what the aims of the Council are in this area. It was incredibly uplifting to hear of the resource and support being put in to such an innovative and amazing scheme. I saw the most brilliant short film about a Shared Lives family. I have to say if anybody saw this, then personally I think they would be in no doubt of how this scheme can bring so much support and help to the person being cared for.

After our meeting, Catherine and I set off to meet the Shared Lives family. I have to say I felt slightly concerned about imposing myself on this family but I needn’t have worried. I was met at the door by the Shared Lives carers (who knew I was coming by the way). They were so lovely and friendly and welcomed me into their beautiful home. The couple look after three people with learning disabilities or other support needs. The two people I met were in their mid-fifties or early sixties. One had been living there nearly a year and the other person had been with the family for 16 years.

I met the first person who was a little bit shy at first, but after a short while came down from his room and joined in our conversation. A short while later I met the second person, who had been out volunteering which he does a few times a week. He began telling me Continue reading