Appointing care co-ordinators for people with multiple needs improves wellbeing and cuts costs

Evaluation supports co-ordinated approach to people who face mental health, substance misuse, homelessness and offending problems

Photo: Rex Features (posed by model)

Appointing care co-ordinators to steer adults with multiple needs through statutory and voluntary services can improve client wellbeing and save money, according to the results of two pilot projects.

The Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) pilots found that having a co-ordinator who worked across services to develop personalised support and overcome organisational barriers delivers better and cheaper help.

An evaluation of the Cambridgeshire and Derby MEAM pilots, which were organised by a coalition of four charities in partnership with councils, found significant increases in client wellbeing and cost reductions of as much as 26.4% over two years.

“The findings show that when local agencies work together to provide better co-ordinated interventions then they can not only improve lives, but also reduce costs too,” said Oliver Hilbery, director of the MEAM project.

The pilots focused on people who faced a combination of problems such as offending, homelessness, substance misuse and mental ill health.

The evaluation of the work said the co-ordinated approach enhanced the service clients received because it looked at all their needs, including those that may fall below the thresholds of single-issue services.

“The co-ordinators have a remit to have no remit,” said Hilbery. “They worked for the partnership but were presented as not being employed by one agency in particular because the idea was they could get over the organisational boundaries other people find themselves trapped in to offer a very holistic, personalised service to the client.”

In Cambridgeshire the pilot reduced costs by 26.4% in two years, equivalent to £958 per client per month. In Derby costs fell by 15.8%, equal to £484 per client per month.

Hilbery added that the success of the pilots relied on having co-ordination of different services and agreements in place that enabled local services to be flexible.

One of the service users involved in the pilots said: “Since the co-ordinator got on my case, things have taken a turn for the good. Before I was going round in circles. It’s not a bed of roses yet, but before it was a dead end.”

The MEAM project was lead by four charities: Clinks, DrugScope, Homeless Link and Mind.

The evaluation of the pilots was conducted by Compass Lexecon, FTI Consulting and Pro Bono Economics.

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