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.

It’s ‘voluntary’ but not optional

I’m re-blogging the post below from http://www.voluntarysectorhealthcare.org.uk/vcse-review/ which is the website for a review of investment in the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector which I’m chairing on behalf of a group of VCSE organisations and the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England. The review is based on the view set out in all of those bodies’ strategies and visions for the kind of enabling, collaborative and community-based approach to achieving health and wellbeing which could only be achieved with a thriving and valued VCSE sector. In other words, a sector which might be known as ‘voluntary’, but which cannot be seen as optional:

Having been asked to Chair this review of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, I’ve been more thinking than normal about what kind of VCSE sector we want and what kinds of relationships national and local health and care bodies should have with it. For me personally (and in this blog you’re going to find the personal views of advisory group members, not any ‘official’ lines), the real question here is what kind of health and care system do we want in this country?

If we want the same kind of health and care system we’ve always had, then we need a VCSE sector which gets better at delivering on public service contracts, and provides a steady supply of volunteers to help out alongside professionals. Nothing wrong with those goals, but actually I think we need a very different kind of health and care system, and the national health and care strategies all read as visions for something very different, not just a more efficient version of what we’ve always aimed at. This means a different view of what charities, community groups and social enterprises are there for, and how their contribution should be supported and valued.

If the challenges of 1948 were our major challenges now, the health system would be well able to meet them. But our key challenge now is that health and care is not used by only a relatively small number of people for a relatively short time. A quarter of the population now lives with a long term condition and many of those with several long term conditions. Living well with a long term condition, avoiding health and other crises, is not something even a great service and the most expert professionals can do for us, it is something which is only achievable when people with long term conditions, family carers, communities and professionals work together, each making their own kind of contribution, sharing information and expertise, and backing each other up when things get tough. Living well requires joined-up health, care and housing interventions, but also services which can join up with informal action and arrange themselves around our real, messy, lives.

Charities, community groups and social enterprises can do many things well, from delivering huge public service contracts to running campaigns which change the national conversation, but Continue reading