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Wellbeing Our Way

Wellbeing Our Way ran from June 2014 to June 2017. The programme brought together charities, community organisations and individuals to develop culture and improve practice across the voluntary sector to enable people with health needs to live well in ways which matter to them.

  • Person-centred care
  • Lived experience

About Wellbeing Our Way

Wellbeing Our Way was born from the belief that voluntary and community organisations, alongside people with long-term health needs, can play a powerful role in ensuring people can gain the support they need to live well.  

We found many people are living longer with long-term physical and mental health needs. Often our health and care systems aren’t set up to support them in the ways they want, leaving them to fit in with the ‘system’ rather than enjoying their lives in the way they want to. 

There is increasing consensus that people and their communities need a new relationship with health and care services – one which recognises that people’s own health goals are what count.  

Wellbeing Our Way supported charities and community groups to play a significant role in this ongoing shift to person-centred, community-focused care. We brought people together from charitable organisations to build their knowledge, skills, confidence and motivation so they could develop person-centred approaches within their own organisations. 

This page catalogues our learning from Wellbeing Our Way and shares the impact the programme made. 

Communities of practice

Wellbeing Our Way’s communities of practice brought together people from charities and community organisations, alongside those with direct experience of using health and care services, to share learning and challenge around a range of person- and community-centred approaches.  

Communities of practice facilitate peer-based, collaborative learning between people with shared interests. Communities often form around entrenched, complex problem-areas for which there are likely to be multiple solutions or approaches. 

  • From October 2016, we also facilitated two place-based communities of practice across Greater Manchester, focused on peer support and supported self-management. This approach was based on our experience of facilitating national communities of practice, with some important distinctions: 
  • The communities were ‘place-based’ – meaning their focus was on developing practice and relationships across Greater Manchester, identifying and building on regional strengths and opportunities. 
  • The communities were community and voluntary sector-led while including colleagues from statutory health and care services, alongside people living with long-term health conditions or caring responsibilities. This extended membership reflected the partnership opportunities offered by health and social care devolution, alongside a genuine commitment to developing partnership working as a basis for developing coordinated, preventative approaches to health and wellbeing across the region. 

Our learning paper, ‘Enabling change through communities of practice’ explores this work, and our findings, in more detail. 


Wellbeing Our Way brought people together to share their experiences and facilitate collective learning, using a range of techniques to engage people with diverse learning styles and communication preferences. Here are our top tips for creative, effective facilitation: 

  1. Trial a range of hosting and facilitation techniques. We’ve shared some of our favourite activities in the presentation slides from our Facilitation Masterclasses. For more ideas of activities to use in meetings and events, the Health Foundation has published a set of activity cards, and a guide to creative approaches to problem solving. 
  2. Adapt to the group’s needs. We found that the most effective sessions were ones in which we weren’t afraid to adapt the sessions part way through the event if this fitted with the group’s needs more effectively. 
  3. Leave plenty of space in your agenda for discussion – this ensures a diverse and inclusive debate and conversation.
  4. Work collaboratively with your group.  Ensuring the programme was co- produced throughout guaranteed a diversity of input and meaningful engagement.
How did Wellbeing Our Way use co-production?

Wellbeing Our Way was co-produced at every stage of the programme, from developing a model of impact, to writing newsletters, to delivering shared learning workshops. 

Involving a diverse range of people in programme development led to high levels of meaningful engagement. Allowing large numbers of people and organisations to contribute increased broad ownership of the programme, and ensured that Wellbeing Our Way was rooted in the strengths, needs, and aspirations of its communities. 

Many of the organisations who were part of Wellbeing Our Way were already co-producing work in one way or another. Through shared learning opportunities and masterclasses, we enabled organisations to develop their approaches to co-production even further. 

Wellbeing Our Way worked to engage people with a wide range of experiences and health conditions: 

  • We specifically invited people with a range of backgrounds, identities and experiences to contribute to the programme. 
  • We used a range of facilitation techniques which offered different opportunities to contribute. 
  • We monitored who was involved in the programme using a diversity monitoring form, to ensure people with a range of experience and backgrounds were involved in the programme.
  • We published a rewards and recognition policy so we could appropriately reimburse or pay people with lived experience for their time and contributions.
  • We found identifying the aspirations, needs and strengths of groups who were yet to be involved using persona templates was useful when trying to diversify the project.
Systems leadership

Systems leadership is about how you lead across boundaries – departmental, organisational or/and across sectors. It describes the way people need to behave when they face large, complex, and seemingly intractable problems. 

We worked with Debbie Sorkin, National Director of Systems Leadership at the Leadership Centre, to run Systems Leadership Masterclasses in London and Manchester. The presentation slides from Debbie’s masterclasses detail how systems leadership can be used to shape change, specifically focusing on working with public services. 

The Revolution will be Improvised is a great introduction to systems leadership, and is based on the real-world experiences of 25 places using this approach across England. Other helpful publications can be found on the Leadership Centre’s website, including The Revolution will be Improvised Part II and The Art of Change Making. 

Care and support planning

Care and support planning is a joint process between a person with a long-term condition and their health and social care professionals, plus other supporters. The process aims to identify what is important to the person, agree what actions the person can take themselves, and what support is needed from others. Care and support plans often include community approaches to helping people live with long-term conditions, including self-management support, activity groups, befriending services, and one-to-one coaching. 

Download the first edition of WOW Now (Wellbeing Our Way’s e-newsletter) for individual and organisational experiences of care and support planning, and for a list of useful resources. 

The knowledge, skills, experience and resources of voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations are crucial to the widespread implementation of care and support planning. Read Wellbeing Our Way’s discussion paper, What is the role of VCSE organisations in care and support planning? to find out about the vital role charities play in supporting people to develop care and support plans. It also detailed how organisations worked with people with long-term conditions and their clinical teams to put the plans into practice. 

Person-centred information and helplines

Wellbeing Our Way facilitated a community of practice about developing person-centred information and helplines. We also hosted shared learning workshops that brought together people with lived experience and those working within charities to explore how health information, helplines and wider digital engagement can enable people to manage their health in the ways which matter to them  

Engaging people in health and care

We’re proud of the diversity of the people involved in the Wellbeing Our Way project. 67% of those involved in the project were female; 14% were from black, Asian and ethnic minority groups, and 19% identified as LGBTQ+. 46% were living with long-term health conditions; 22% considered themselves to have a disability, and 34% had current or past experiences of caring. 

A few key approaches helped to involve such a range of people: 

  1. Identifying ‘less heard’ groups and explicitly inviting them to share their experiences and expertise with others in the programme, throughout our events, communities of practice, and steering group. 
  2. Ensuring that our reward and recognition policy was fair and transparent, and that payments are processed in a timely way. 
  3. Hosting events outside of London in addition to our London-based work (70% of those involved in Wellbeing Our Way lived outside of London). 
  4. Encouraging people to share their own experience of living with long-term health conditions and/or caring responsibilities in an attempt to break down the artificial split between people working within organisations and those with lived experience. Informal feedback has been that the richest learning came from sessions which married these experiences, alongside practical approaches, tools or frameworks. 
  5. Keeping track of the range of people we involved by using a carefully developed diversity monitoring form. 
WOW! Exchange

The WOW! Exchange was an online hub and provided a space for charities and community groups to exchange examples of how they are enabling people to live well, in the ways which matter to them, and was initiated through the Wellbeing Our Way programme. The examples include information about awareness weeks, community outreach programmes, YouTube channels and much more.The full list of examples, which was last updated in 2017, is available upon request.

Our impact

Wellbeing Our Way was born from the belief that voluntary and community organisations, alongside people with long-term health needs, can play a powerful role in solving this problem. 

Our theory of change articulates Wellbeing Our Way’s intended outcomes, and the steps we are took to achieve them. 

Download Wellbeing Our Way’s Impact Report 2016. 


Wellbeing Our Way was supported by the Health Foundation, an independent charity working to improve the quality of healthcare in the UK.