Social Enterprises help NHS deliver community-driven care
Peter Holbrook from Social Enterprise UK discusses the positive impact of social enterprise collaborations with the NHS and details his recommendations to further social value in health care delivery.
The UK’s National Health Service is undergoing the most significant reforms in its history. New bodies are emerging, new legislation is coming into force, and the line between health and social care is blurring. As well as getting to grips with the raft of changes taking place, organisations delivering health and social care are under pressure to cut costs and deliver better quality care; whilst under the constant strain of increasing demand for services.
As the challenges mount, health commissioners and providers must utilise every tool they have to ensure the UK’s health services emerge from these reforms unscathed.
Click here for Peter Holbrook's interview with the Information Daily on why political leadership is key for health and social care transformation.
The Social Value Act, which became law earlier this year, is one such tool. It means, for the first time, that public bodies in England and Wales must consider the social value created by organisations delivering public services. Across the country, the Act is already making waves, being adopted by local authorities and transforming the way services are commissioned. Birmingham City Council recently outlined aims to boost the local economy by requiring its suppliers to provide local employment opportunities, while Liverpool City Council is creating a Social Value Taskforce to ensure the new law is properly enforced across Merseyside.
Choosing providers based on the social value they create can help save costs and get the most value from taxpayers’ money. For example, when social enterprises deliver services, profits are reinvested into services and wealth stays in local communities. Roughly a third of Social Enterprise UK’s members deliver health and social care services, and the emergence of ‘spin-outs’ – groups of staff moving out of the public sector and setting up social enterprises - means social enterprises’ role in health markets looks set to continue growing.
At Social Enterprise UK, we’re working with the Department of Health to deliver programmes that bring social enterprises and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs - the new bodies in charge of commissioning health services) together, to explore how to create and deliver social value. This work, and the benefits commissioning for social value can bring, has convinced us that there is a real opportunity here for social enterprises to help CCGs meet their objectives and ultimately deliver better care.
At SEUK’s recent annual health conference, Lesley Dixon, Chief Executive of leading social enterprise PSS (Person Shaped Support), highlighted social enterprises' ability to see wider than patient’s immediate medical needs. Social enterprises often have the freedom to work more closely with local communities, and root out the underlying wellbeing and social issues that fuel health problems. They’re able to gain the support and trust of local communities and other local players, such as housing associations, to develop preventative services that support patients before they need hospital care. This means less expenditure up stream and a better service for patients.
Unlimited Potential, a social enterprise working in Salford, has trained local people as experts to engage with men at risk of cancer - in pubs, taxis and ‘greasy spoon’ cafés. They’re successful because they have the trust and understanding of their local community, and are able to co-design cost saving services and interventions with the individuals they seek to reach.
As well as turning to the social enterprise community for support, there are a number of other steps CCGs and other health commissioners should consider when incorporating social value in their commissioning practices.
Step 1: Think about what social value means to you. Develop your own social value priorities that reflect your own organisational priorities and the needs of the local area. Consider wider objectives within your area - such as a local authority’s duty to improve the economic wellbeing of an area as well as the delivery of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) and Joint Health and Wellbeing strategy (JHWS).
Step 2: Engage your wider community and establish what social value means to them. Find out the needs on the ground and translate this into the design of contracts.
Step 3: Develop a solid policy for social value commissioning. Clearly outlining what social value should look like in your area will give commissioning staff a better understanding of how to create social value in services.
Step 4: Consider how these policies will look on paper. Ensure that any social, economic or environmental requirements are visible in contracts.
Step 5: Develop criteria against which social value can be measured and use it when assessing bids from providers.
Step 6: Learn how to evaluate social value.
The Social Value Act could be an antidote to many of the problems facing organisations working in health and social care. Despite this, there remains a relatively low level of understanding about what it actually means, and there is still much work to be done to build social value in to every health contract. With greater collaboration between CCGs and social enterprises, this can be achieved, ensuring that every pound spent on the delivery of health services can be used for maximum community and patient benefit.
Peter Holbrook is Chief Executive at Social Enterprise UK.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.