Date issued: 11 October 2019
The work of the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance and the evolving Essex Local Delivery Pilot took centre-stage, when Colchester Borough Council’s Cabinet met on Wednesday (9 October).
In a wide-ranging presentation by Pam Donnelly, Colchester Borough Council’s Strategic Director of Customer & Relationships, and Mark Jarman-Howe, Chief Officer NEE Alliance, members heard how the formation of a multi-agency integrated care system, involving both the commissioning and delivery of health and wellbeing services, was beginning to transform lives across the borough and beyond.
The NEE Alliance, which was formed in early 2018, comprises Colchester Borough Council, Tendring District Council, Essex County Council, St Helena, Community 360 and CVS Tendring, North East Essex CCG, ACE, GP Primary Choice, Essex Partnership University Trust, East of England Ambulance Service, and the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust.
Mark Jarman-Howe described the way the wider determinants of health and wellbeing, such as housing, education, employment and the environment were increasingly informing integrated approaches to delivering the support and interventions necessary to improve people’s lives. Addressing these underlying factors is fundamental in the prevention and reduction of inequalities that can lead to poor health and lifestyle-choices throughout life, he explained.
Underpinning the Alliance’s collaborative efforts to address these causes is the Livewell Model, which identifies six areas of service delivery within a broader Community Model of Care:
The meeting heard how Colchester Borough Council has been working with NEE Alliance colleagues and was well-placed to use its position to influence some of the main determinants of health, such as housing and the environment, to begin to reduce the longer-term reliance upon statutory health services. Examples of work undertaken so far, include:
Extending the meeting’s focus on health and wellbeing, Cabinet members also heard from Jason Fergus, Director of Active Essex, and Rory Doyle, Colchester Borough Council’s Wellbeing and Prevention manager, about local progress around the work of the Essex Local Delivery Pilot (LDP) backed by Sport England.
Members heard how, with Colchester selected as one of three test areas in Essex up to 2025, the LDP presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use physical activity to make a difference to resident’s lives, encourage lasting behaviour change, and to share learning to create a common blueprint to tackle inactivity.
With a partnership plan underpinned by a belief that ‘a community that becomes more active is transformed’, the LDP aims to turn individual motivation into self-directed social movements that boost health and wellbeing and help to build cohesive communities.
Jason Fergus described some of the significant learnings of the pilot so far, including the challenges of systems change and making physical activity a by-product of other services. While the LDP had commenced in discovery mode, it was now beginning to move towards the inclusive multi-agency delivery phase, working with individuals and communities to focus on the things that matter most to them.
As one example, Rory Doyle highlighted how a crisis housing project, delivered by Catch-22, was able to include opportunities to be physically activity through gardening, trips to parks, open spaces and other outdoor activity, within the scope of support on offer. Participants reported improved mental wellbeing, lower levels of anxiety and boosted-confidence.
Speaking after the meeting, Pam Donnelly said: “Both of these interrelated initiatives, the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance and the Essex Local Delivery Pilot, represent a real life-changing opportunity for us to work in partnership with the singular aim of bringing about tangible and lasting improvements to wellbeing.
“Getting more people to embrace healthy active lifestyles doesn't just help to improve physical and mental wellbeing, it is also an excellent way to bring communities together by overcoming the barriers that prevent some of our most vulnerable and marginalised residents from enjoying a healthier and more fulfilling life.”
Cllr Mike Lilley, Portfolio Holder for Communities, Wellbeing and Public Safety, added: “These huge and important projects are enabling us to connect the dots, better understand people’s lived experiences and begin to address some of the root causes that lead to inactivity, social isolation and ill-health – including poor mental health, which we know is a huge problem.
“I am delighted the council is playing such a central role in pursuing the kinds of systemic changes we know are necessary to boost health and wellbeing, meet the needs of local communities and create a lasting legacy of increased participation in physical activity and sport.”
Mark Jarman-Howe, Chief Officer NEE Alliance, said: “It’s great to see how engaged Colchester Borough Council is with the aim of the Alliance to improve the health and wellbeing of residents. Bringing a wide range of statutory and voluntary sector partners together is creating exciting new opportunities to do things differently, overcoming traditional organisational boundaries and focussing on the needs and strengths of local people.”
Jason Fergus, Director of Active Essex, added: “By working together in new ways, with many different local communities in Colchester, we are beginning to understand people’s motivations and what matters to them most. We are enabling people to identify and create solutions they want and which will work for them.
“Radical new thinking and new approaches are needed, and it’s incredibly energising that all the partners in the integrated health and wellbeing services are powering this system-wide change to get more people more active in the future, for the wellbeing of all.”