After the death of his wife two years ago, Andrew, aged 66, started to drink heavily and was depressed. But a GP gave him a social prescription which referred him to a local area coordinator. They got to know each other and the coordinator learnt about Andrew’s vision of a good life and how that might connect with others. The GP also referred Andrew to a volunteer-led older men’s peer support network to help him reduce his alcohol use.
He then had a nasty fall. After he got out of hospital, a local micro-enterprise specialising in home care provided Andrew with a bit of support to get him back on his feet. Now Andrew volunteers himself; for the local football team.
There’s lots in there to shout about: Andrew’s happier, he worked collaboratively with local community networks to help him find the care and support he needed and in turn the community’s now benefitting from Andrew’s input…and costly acute services have been avoided.
This example of innovation in adult health, care and support is just that. A small-scale example. But it’s not going on everywhere. People may receive care, but it can be unresponsive and inconsistently delivered, and yet more expensive to deliver.
Scale it up
At the Social Care Institute for Excellence, our recent briefing looks at how to grow – or scale up – small-scale, community-led innovations so that more and more people’s lives improve across England and beyond. Many of the models of effective care exist already, but to a degree they are reliant on short-term, often charitable, funding, rather than core statutory funding. This has to change.
To get to the point where these models become part of the mainstream, there will need to be braver decisions about how local resources are spent, with money being transferred over time from low-quality, low-outcome services to impactful innovative models of care. So, for instance, in the report, we conclude that one of the things that the government should do is to bridge the gap between the Care Act’s vision for wellbeing and the reality of current procurement, by developing new ways to pay providers which creates wellbeing and resilience in communities.