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.


Wales’ answer to Gareth Malone (only better)…

David Jones knows a thing or two about the relationship between well-being, inclusion and the arts – and he’s a co-pro fan. This glorious combination has produced the Cor Cwmni Teg Choir – The Good Company Choir – set up with residents of Tegfan Care Home in Aberdare and visitors to the neighbouring day centre. It’s proving to be an inspirational route to health, happiness and wellbeing…  (Read all about it in this article.)

Their next (free) concert will be at Ysbyty Cwm Cynon in May, in the foyer. If you’d like to come along, get in touch with David at

Guardian article on social prescriptions

This article details a range of creative ‘social prescription’ initiatives to improve health and wellbeing. Examples include the House of Memories in Liverpool for those suffering with dementia and Health Cornwall which has provided funding for all manner of creative activities.

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:



Atul Gawande’s 2014 Reith Lectures on The Future of Medicine

Gawande is a writer, practicing surgeon and Professor at both the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. All the lectures are pretty thought-provoking but the fourth – ‘The Idea of Wellbeing’ is of particular interest from a co-production point of view. Gawande argues for a far more holistic vision for medicine that puts people’s agency, their desires, their interests and their need for connection and purpose at the heart of their care, including and especially when frail or at the end of life. He argues for a medical model that looks at human systems rather than merely symptoms and that puts wellbeing, and the sense of individual purpose that enhances it, at its heart:“Everywhere I see the mistake of ignoring that people have priorities in their lives besides merely surviving another day. Even in severe illness or frailty people desire connections to others and to purposes of their own choosing. I think we’ve been wrong… I think we’ve been rather limited about what we think our job is in building systems of care for human existence. We think our job is to ensure health and survival but really it is larger than that:  it is to enable wellbeing, and fundamentally wellbeing is about sustaining the reasons one wishes to be alive.” Well worth a download or listen:

New on our website and blog: Dafydd Thomas

The most recent “In my experience” article by Dafydd Thomas (previously CEO of Wellbeing Wales, now director of The Wellbeing Planner): Wellbeing in context – what makes a difference? where he reflects on a wellbeing project he recently undertook in Namibia. ‘Using any measure of wellbeing, it was clear that the individuals within the older conservancy were thriving in comparison with the other villages. The people had support networks, opportunities, services and a say in local decisions. They also shared the responsibility, the successes and the challenges facing their community with the government officials and other development agencies.  These individuals were ‘doing with’ rather than ‘being done to,’ and as such it was an inspiring experience.’