The National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) has recently published a report that highlights the positive outcomes being achieved by Community Led Support (CLS) initiatives in local councils.

Derby City Council’s CLS initiative, known as Talking Points, was one of nine sites included in the evaluation. It demonstrates just how valuable taking a community led approach to adult social care can be for increasingly stretched services across the country.

Councillor Martin Repton, Cabinet Member for Integrated Health and Care commented:

“The report highlights what a significant and positive impact Community Led Support has made for Derby residents. Thanks to the innovations of our own, dedicated employees, the Council has been able to take on the challenge of an increasingly tight social care budget and still deliver superb outcomes for our communities.”

What is Community Led Support (CLS)?

CLS involves local authorities such as Derby City Council working collaboratively with their communities, partners and employees. Ideally this work takes place across the whole authority (not just within social care) to design a health and social care service that works for everyone.

At the heart of CLS is a desire to improve lives for local people by bringing support services to communities by enabling residents to stay in and better connect with their own communities. Compared to more traditional social care models, this approach is leading to better outcomes for people who are not just struggling with their physical health, but also their mental health.

How is Community Led support making a difference in Derby?

In Derby, the CLS initiative, called Talking Points, has revolutionised social care journeys for vulnerable residents across the city. In just over a year, not only have waiting lists to access support shortened significantly, but an organisation-wide buy-in has improved the process for everyone involved, including employees who have been empowered to think differently about how their service can best help those who need it.

“Talking Points are all person-centred. The conversations are important – it’s about ‘what matters’ to you. We get stories about people’s journeys – freedom to talk with an individual and explore lots of options.” – Voluntary sector employee

Before Talking Points was launched in Derby, people who needed to access social care services could wait months after first approaching the service. They were taken through a lengthy assessment process for something as simple as having a handrail installed. Now, many people are seen within a matter of days or weeks at their local hub. This reduces the likelihood of having to access further support because of a lengthy initial wait, in which time, a person’s physical or mental health may have deteriorated.

Financially, the savings made at the start of the social care journey (for example, through reducing the number of assessments) are helping to re-distribute much needed funding to other areas such as end-of-life care where paid support is more appropriate. The NDTi reports highlights how, in Derby, Talking Points has delivered a £2.22 non-cashable saving for every £1 spent (meaning that we have been able to deliver an improved level of service without increasing the resources needed to provide it).

Marie’s story

Marie is in her mid-30s and has a severe obsessive compulsive disorder which had led to the breakdown of her relationship. As she was moving to a new area of Derby, Marie’s community psychiatric nurse referred her to Talking Points to find out what local support was available.

Marie started to explain to the social care worker about all the things she couldn’t do and would need support with. But the social care worker asked Marie about things she could do and what she wanted to achieve for herself.

“I was really surprised” said Marie “Normally when I speak to someone from health or social care, it’s all about what I need help with, no-one has ever been interested in what I can do for myself, what I like doing and what things I want accomplish. It was a real breath of fresh air chatting about my positives”.

By turning the conversation on its head, the social care worker was able to find out more about Marie, about what her life is like and what support would be needed to help Marie achieve her goals in a positive way.

I was so surprised by how different the conversation was at Talking Points. It felt good to talk about my positives rather than my negatives and the social care worker really helped me look forward to moving to a new life in a new community. I really feel good about myself and what I can achieve with a little help from others – Marie

The social care worker gave some advice about voluntary services such as Derbyshire Mind. She also recommended some short-term support from the Home First team that could help Marie get back on her feet following her separation.

Rather than looking for services to do all the things for Marie that she struggled with herself, Marie was able to get support to learn new skills and do even more things for herself.

“I was so surprised by how different the conversation was at Talking Points. It felt good to talk about my positives rather than my negatives and the social care worker really helped me look forward to moving to a new life in a new community. I really feel good about myself and what I can achieve with a little help from others”.