Excellence Network: Partnership working winners

The first of five features showcasing the honoured teams in each category. This week: partnership working
by Natasha Salari

ORGANISATION: Slough Assertive Outreach and Early Intervention Team

Project: Physical Wellbeing Programme

Client group: Mental health/substance misuse

Location: Slough

excellence networl slough outreach

The Physical Wellbeing Programme aims to improve the physical health of people with severe mental illness. The programme, developed by the Slough Assertive Outreach and Early Intervention Team at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Slough Council, was set up to address the fact that a person with severe mental illness can expect to live 10 years less than someone without one.

Aware that these service users often have a poor diet and do not exercise and that their medications could cause excess weight gain, the team built partnerships with local football and cricket clubs and set up a number of other activities including tennis and badminton. Up to 300 service users now take part in these activities. Some clients have even gone on to train as football and tennis coaches and are involved in running the groups.

Smoking cessation clinics are run jointly with the local primary care trust and a healthy living group is attended by diabetic nurses. The local council has provided 40 free annual gym memberships for service users.

Judge’s comments: “A positive example of developing outside partnerships to improve the physical health of people with mental health problems.”

Paul Jenkins, chief executive, Rethink

ORGANISATION: Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Society for the Blind

Project: Community Services team

Client group: Disability

Location: Blackpool

Joined-up working between the voluntary sector, health and social services is giving visually impaired people in Blackpool access to a “seamless” service. The Community Services team at the Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Society for the Blind (BFWSB) allows clients to benefit from services by talking to just one team.

An eye clinic liaison officer, based at the local hospital, acts as a bridge between the BFWSB, two eye clinics and social services, sharing information on clients at the point of diagnosis. The officer has access to all hospital departments, ensuring that patients with a visual impairment are identified and referred.

Social services can use BFWSB’s facilities so that all clients have access to resources. Pooled databases between the partners have built on the success of the scheme. The Community Services team now manages the registration list of visually impaired people for social services. The hospital has asked the BFWSB to link its client database so that NHS records can be updated.

“Clients only need to talk to one team so there is no confusion or duplication,” says chief executive Kevin Winkley.

Judge’s comments: “It shows that you don’t need formal arrangements to develop a service which is of genuine benefit to service users.”

Simon Heng, disability writer and activist

ORGANISATION: The Tyne and Wear Care Alliance

Project: Pathways Into Care

Client group: Older people

Location: Sunderland

A partnership between councils and employers is tackling problems with recruiting staff in the independent care sector in Tyne and Wear.

The Pathways Into Care project, run by the Tyne and Wear Care Alliance, gives unemployed people an insight into working in the care sector, provides them with pre-employment training and then matches them with actual job vacancies. More than 700 care sector employers and five local authorities have formed the alliance, which also has links with Jobcentre Plus and Skills for Care.

Unemployed people interested in care work are recruited at jobs fairs and then given information on care work and the types of jobs available before being offered training and mentoring. Training can take the form of workshops on CV preparation or the development of specific skills in areas such as first aid or manual lifting.

Moira Pinkney, manager of the Tyne and Wear Care Alliance, says: “The benefits have been twofold: improving employment opportunities for people interested in care work and bridging the skills deficit that employers face. Before, the employers were in competition with each other. Now they are working with each other.”

The project is exceeding all targets set by the alliance and has given information and guidance to over 200 people, offering 120 people individualised training packages and helping 70 of those people obtain permanent jobs.

Judge’s comments: “This is a unique strategic partnership to tackle workforce issues which is critical for the future of social care. It’s great to see another kind of alliance other than across the usual care sectors which is having far-reaching effects.”

Annie Stevenson, head of older people’s services, Social Care Institute for Excellence

ORGANISATION: Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust/Wolverhampton Council

Project: Multi-Agency Strategy Management Group

Client group: Children and families

Location: Wolverhampton

Pooling finances for looked-after children placed out of area has enabled Wolverhampton’s council and primary care trust to focus on the needs of each child rather than budgets.

The Multi-Agency Strategy Management Group brings together senior managers from Wolverhampton Council and Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust. It was established to remove organisational barriers and reduce financial constraints after budgets from different departments involved in out-of-city placements were found to be either under- or overspent.

The arrangement includes pooling budgets from health, social care and education, which has allowed more effective spending and a particular focus on in-city investment. Residential units are being created or improved so more young people can be supported in the area.

Case workers can now make joint decisions about a looked-after-child without feeling under pressure to protect individual budgets or worrying about which department needs to pay.

“Many of the young people in these placements have a combination of social care, health and educational needs. Our partnership lets us focus on their needs, rather than our internal workings,” says John Welsby, chief officer for children and families at the council.

The group is considering expanding the scope of the partnership arrangements to other services for disabled children, residential education placements and short-term respite care.

Judge’s comments: “This was a gutsy and intelligent example of partnership working, balancing a multi-agency approach with a realistic approach to breaking down barriers.”

Clare Tickell, chief executive, Action for Children

ORGANISATION: Herefordshire Council

Project: Supported Housing

Client group: Learning disability

Location: Herefordshire

A partnership between housing group Midland Heart and Herefordshire Council is modernising residential care provision for people with learning disabilities.

Five shortlisted organisations pooled their ideas on the modernisation programme and shared good practice before the best solutions were chosen by the council. Midland Heart then won a council tender to provide these solutions.

Work began by transferring 150 staff to Midland Heart from the local authority, primary care trust and other organisations that had competed for the tender. The five-year modernisation programme includes refurbishing residential properties and looking at independent housing options.

Young people will be offered training and education through links with local colleges and the team will work with service users to help them develop more independent living skills with the aim of moving out of residential care.

“How to best deliver these services has been a learning curve for us and the council,” says Clare Thomas, new business manager for Midland Heart Care and Support. “Although we have been commissioned by the council, it’s very much a two-way process.

“We are working to give people more options about how they live their lives. We want to encourage independent living, even for those with complex needs.”

Judge’s comments: “An excellent example of partnership working, where five organisations pooled their ideas and expertise in order to deliver improved services to people with learning disabilities in Hereford.”

Su Sayer, chief executive, United Response

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