No numbers without stories (CHEX-Point issue 48)

This powerful and moving community research project from Scotland highlights the impact of the power imbalance between professionals and service-recipients (asylum-seekers in this instance) that undermines trust and lessens participants’ belief that their voices will actually be heard. The key messages are that community-led research should be focused around issues identified by the community, and that the people affected should be enabled to carry out the research and take action themselves. Crucially, they say, you should have no stories without numbers and no numbers without stories.

For the full report from ARC (Action Research by, in and for Communities) visit this link.

Knowing me, knowing you: a learning exchange between national and local organisations addressing health inequalities

Here’s an interesting report – interesting not only for its contents but for the collaborative way in which it was compiled. Some lessons here perhaps for our Prudent Healthcare strategy – and its implementation. The report emphasises the importance of: building social capital, working with the third sector, communities co-creating and co-delivering services, harnessing community assets and using place-based approaches. Community-led health approaches have empowerment at their core, establishing the priorities of communities and, together with communities, developing ways of addressing these priorities. Moreover community-led health organisations tend to have the knowhow and experience when it comes to building people’s confidence and skills to enable them to take part in improving the health of their communities. Community-led approaches also help to tackle power inequalities that can only be challenged if people have control over their lives and what happens in their communities.

Where’s the evidence? Here actually…

Understandably, and thankfully, health professionals rely on evidence rather than hapchance, hope and incantations at the moon. Also understandably, they are often suspicious of the claims made for co-production, particularly if they have faced a full-frontal evangelical enthusiasm overdose from either of us. So, from all vantage points, it’s really useful to have an in-depth evaluation of the impact of co-pro on people’s health and well-being. And they seldom come more in-depth than the recent Spice evaluation of the impact of co-production across a range of time-credit initiatives in England and Wales: over 1300 people participated during a two-year period. Given that time credits are referenced in the Social Services & Wellbeing Act and in Prudent Healthcare as a key approach to co-produced and citizen-led services, this report couldn’t be more timely. Headline figures are impressive: 65% of participants said that their quality of life had improved; 45% felt healthier; 19% visited the doctor less often; 71% had made new friends and 76% felt able to contribute more to their community. Significantly, 48% of public service organisations involved reported that they were able to offer improved access to services with the same or fewer resources. Read the full report or check out the executive summary.

Co-production Learning in Action programme

Public Health Wales (1000 Lives) in partnership with WCVA are launching a National Co Production Learning in Action Programme on 24th February 2015. This programme has been designed to provide practical support based on an action learning methodology, delivered with key partners to achieve the real and sustainable integration of co-production into activities that seek to improve health and wellbeing for local communities.  The objective will be to work together to find practical solutions that translate into positive outcomes for individuals and communities. Five projects from across Wales have already engaged and are eager to receive the added value offered which will include:

  • Advice and mentorship to support the practical application of a co-productive approach.
  • Bespoke learning for local teams using a train the trainer approach with a specific focus on shared decision making to ensure this way of working supports the citizens of Wales to manage their own health and wellbeing, facilitated by statutory service provision.
  • An action research evaluation to be conducted nationally.
  • The creation of a community of practice to encourage and facilitate shared learning and good practice.

The projects include a pioneering new approach for deaf people with mental health problems, co-producing solutions and developing a peer support group and the creation of citizen-led training (partners: the British Deaf Association, New Horizons, Interlink RCT, Cwm Taf UHB, NHS Centre for Equality & Human Rights). More info on this project here and here. For more information on the Co-production Learning in Action Programme, please contact Maria Gallagher of Public Health or Constance Adams of WCVA:



Community-led health projects in Fife

Here’s a useful piece of research by the University of Glasgow on six community-led health organisations in Fife. The report, which is available here, looks at the process, challenges and benefits of community-led approaches to improving health.  A particular focus of the research is on community engagement and community capacity building, the latter being seen as essential to supporting people “to realise they can have an influence”. Health Issues in the Community (HIIC) is identified as one effective method of building capacity. The research also highlights the importance of agency capacity building, stating that “practitioners found the community-led approach can be ‘challenging’ and different from approaches they may have typically used in the past.