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Bringing care services and communities together #C19ScotCare

Posted June 24th 2020 by Outside the Box

Three people connecting over food

Bringing care services and communities together

Our work over the last 16 years has shown us that there is a very close link between care systems and the support and activities offered and delivered by communities.

Yesterday, at an event hosted by the NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s Transformational Redesign Unit, Anne Connor, Chief Executive of Outside the Box talked about the links between formal social care systems and communities.

Voluntary and community activities: support through Covid19

What do we mean by ‘voluntary and community activities’?

We know that it covers a huge range of services, activities and relationships. In real life it is on a spectrum with overlaps, and people get benefits beyond those intended. Voluntary and community activities include:

  • Formal care services, including those commissioned by HSCPs
  • More flexible care and support – such as support that you can be referred to
  • A huge range and amount of services run by voluntary organisations, sometimes local and community based
    • These support people’s wellbeing in many ways. These include peer support activities, wellbeing phone calls and check ins, befriending, and connecting people with local activities and other people
  • Similar activities are often run by voluntary groups and by people just coming together in a less structured way.  These are often more flexible and informal, like activities you can tell someone about if they might want to take part
  • People connecting with each other as friends, looking out for neighbours and helping each other out

Some things we have found help:

  • It takes time for these sorts of things to develop, but once they are there it is easier to build on them quickly if needed – we have seen this during the Covid19 crisis
  • It is about relationships, rather than planned outcomes
  • Older people and others who are often seen as needing help are just as likely to be the people initiating and organising things
  • It is easier to get more structured activities going when the wider, less structured community connections are already there.

Connections across care and community

Social workers and community health staff have always made connections with voluntary and community activities

And this is easier when:

  • Staff know the local area, so they understand what each group or activity can do, and who they can support
  • Staff have the confidence, skills and authority to make connections
  • Community groups know and trust them. It’s a two-way relationship. If you are organising the community activity, you need to be able to go back and talk it over if someone needs more support, or if people could benefit from doing things differently

Community responses to Covid also show:

  • The benefits of very local action and support activities
  • It helps when relationships are already there to build on
  • Using Community Resilience plans, even if they were made for other reasons, are a good starting place
  • Different ways of thinking about risks and what keeps people safe are needed
  • Social connections – The Covid19 pandemic has led to some people being more isolated, while others have found more connections

There is a lot of evidence that this type of activity works better than traditional services

The impact of smaller, community-led activities and services for people who need social care are:

  • Better outcomes for individuals
  • Higher user and carer satisfaction
  • It prevents/slows need for more support
  • Overall better use of resources – more care for more people from same level of money

This is exactly what the Christie Commission report in 2011 said we need in order to make our public services work.

There is work happening to help community responses and activities 

Widening the Market:  Work led by ihub and Outside the Box.

Voluntary Pledge: This work is with unregistered care providers, encouraging their development and supporting them to take a voluntary pledge to follow best practice. Supported by Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund, this work makes it possible to reach community groups with a wider range of activities.  To learn about how the Voluntary Pledge fits into our work around social care, read about our Committed to Good Support project.


For more information contact Anne Connor

Follow us on twitter @OtBcommunities

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  • Posted by Des McCart on June 24th 2020
    This is a great blog filled with useful advice and insights. Many thanks to Anne and all at OtB for the fantastic work you do and for joining our session online yesterday. Very much looking forward to continuing the journey with you and the many communities across Scotland

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