Change that leads to better lives

Blog: How can you place a value on Community Led Support?

Mike Richardson, Community Led Support Site Lead and data specialist, writes about some of the thinking behind our new Valuing Community Led Support report.

The new report builds on eight years of evidence and learning, covering over 30 local areas, to show the economic value of a community led support approach. It demonstrates that by working differently there is much that can be done to improve both the experience and outcomes for people, as well as alleviate some of the pressures on services.

Cls community web landscape 01

When the Community Led Support Network met at our recent gathering in Birmingham, presentation after presentation and story after story rang out with the energy of positive change and real impact for people. At the end of the two days there was a clear appetite to bring these stories and measurements together to tell a story in the round, that is to show the value of this work to our organisations and budgets, without losing the message of human impacts.

This work here was born out of those conversations and that desire to surface our learning in a way that speaks to everyone.

Our network members work in a strengths-based community focused way that seeks to get upstream of crises and difficulties and prevent people from having to become embroiled in services that are either unnecessary or unable to provide what they need. They work collaboratively with many partners and many services in the interest of people locally. As a result, there is an inherent difficulty in measuring and demonstrating impact in this world, not least because with so many moving parts and partners in public and clinical health, social care, housing and voluntary services. How can you be sure which bit had the impact? Furthermore, how exactly do you measure things that don’t happen?

Often we have to make do with measuring and observing only select parts of the whole system and telling that story as best we can. The fact that evidence underpinning strengths-based community focused practice, both nationally and globally, is still in its infancy. Collecting and using the small amount of data available out of the vast activity in health and social care is the equivalent of sipping from a fire hose and means that insights like these are rare and valuable. We also recognise that this is only the start of our learning. Change is afoot, and it is our job to track it and learn what we can from it.

We recognise that there is much more to be done to strengthen both the data and the resources available to analyse the impacts of this work so that more learning and real change can be both evidenced and built upon. It is our hope that frameworks are created to allow this work to thrive, and that sharing the learning from what works will enhance practice and continue to drive out further value through better engagement with people at the heart of care and support.

The sites across the Community Led Support network continue to provide real inspiration and confidence that working differently and engaging with communities and people at the heart of care and support in new ways makes a difference both for them and for the organisations around them. We are grateful for the data and techniques they have shared to make this work possible.

Read the report

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