Derby City Council’s Local Area Coordination (LAC) team has been singled out by health professionals from Singapore to learn best practice from.

The delegation from the National Healthcare Group (NHG) oversee a population of over two million people in North and Central Singapore, and visited Derby City Council to discuss how they can roll out the service in Singapore.

Derby is seen as a leader in Local Area Coordination in the UK, and has been at the forefront of its development nationally.

Dr. Wong Sweet Fun, who is the Chief Transformation Officer, as well as being Deputy Chairman, Medical Board and Senior Consultant, Geriatric Medicine at KTPH, led the delegation.

The group were welcomed by a group of the Council’s Local Area Coordinators, as well as some of the people they have worked to help, and Cabinet Member, Councillor Martin Repton.

Councillor Repton, Cabinet Member for Integrated Health and Care said:

“Singapore is thought to have one of the most successful healthcare systems in the world, so it’s a real testament to our Local Area Coordinator team to have been singled out by them to share our knowledge and expertise.

“Derby is well known and respected for making a great success of Local Area Coordination, and having received national and global recognition, we are continuing to see more and more senior representatives beating a path to our door in order to feed on the knowledge of our brilliant team.

“I’m immensely proud of the Local Area Coordinator team here, and all that they have achieved in the six years they’ve been established. You just have to speak to the people they work with day-to-day to understand how much of a positive impact they have across the city.”

In a sentiment unique to Derby, the team works with anyone in the city, rather than solely those with a diagnosed condition, setting itself apart from similar services elsewhere. They work with a range of people, predominantly those with mental ill health, supporting them to ‘get a life, not a service’; empowering individuals to find community based solutions instead of relying on services.

Throughout the day, the group delved into topics like how LAC is run in Derby, but the subject that stole hearts was of course hearing from the people who have used the service, and the successes they have had.

Derek was one of those people. He got involved with the Council’s LAC team a few years ago; he had previously gone to a day centre for adults with disabilities, which unfortunately closed, leaving him feeling isolated, with little to do throughout the week. He was put in touch with Kathryn, the LAC for Boulton, and decided that he wanted to set up a coffee morning for his community.

Derek said:

“I run the coffee morning every Tuesday morning 10.00am – 12.00noon at Nunsfield House. I do raffles and things for the community. Anyone can come.

“We’ve had a lot of people come along: 130 at Christmas. It’s neighbours helping neighbours. Community helping community.

“we want more people of different ages to come along.

“Running it has increased my confidence. I used to use (social care) services, and I don’t need to anymore.

Derek also invites speakers along to the coffee mornings. Recently they have had speakers come and talk about Healthy Housing, and about diabetes, as well as people offering general information and advice to improve health and well-being.

Kathryn is delighted with Derek’s progress, and seeing how far he has come:

“It’s lovely to see his progress. I met Derek as the Local Area Coordinator for Boulton, and he initially asked for my help with the coffee morning but now he does it all himself.

“The café has really strengthened the local area. There are real friendships developing with people that attend.

“It’s become a real hub for the local community. If someone doesn’t come one week, one of the group will go and check to make sure they’re OK.

“Without Derek, those friendships and that support network just wouldn’t be there.”

Kathryn helped Derek to find a venue, and he has now run his coffee morning every week for three years, and has been so successful he’s already putting plans in motion to open a second!

Speaking about her visit to Derby, and on hearing success stories, like Derek’s, Dr. Sweet Fun said:

“It has been so heart-warming to hear all of these people’s stories.

“I think that what we have been shown here is just how much good can come from the work being done (by the Local Area Coordinators). We hear similar stories in Singapore, so it’s great to hear such positive outcomes.

“Today has been a really good starting point for us. What we need to learn from Derby, is how we can turn our own case-studies from heart-warming stories to compelling evidence, to give us a case for using this method of social care; building communities that are thriving and can help and sustain themselves.

“The way that the Local Area Coordinators have organised the sharing of people’s stories is so unusual, and very generous. I really appreciate that.”

Over the last five years, the LAC team have helped over 700 people, in addition to achieving significant financial returns – £4 of social value is created for every £1 invested, to be exact.

The team have also recently won a bid to assist in more targeted work with care leavers, and children in care, a project that will bring over £750k of funding over two years.

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