Healthy Communities Collaborative making strides for improved health and wellbeing

Putting local people in the driving seat and orientating professionals around them to provide local support is an innovative and practical approach to addressing some causes of health inequalities, says recently published paper.

The Improvement Foundation have published a paper in this quarter's Journal of Integrated Care outlining the Healthy Communities Collaborative method of treating everyone as equal partners with equal weight and importance when aiming to achieve life-changing, sustainable results at the local level.

Jenny Knowles, National Programme Lead for Inequalities at the Improvement Foundation, and article author, said: "Partnership working is vital to addressing health inequalities. However, all too often ‘the community' is a missing element from the partnership. Our Healthy Communities Collaborative model involves working with deprived communities in the improvement of their own health and wellbeing."

Jenny Knowles continues: "In a recent National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) review of the use of community engagement, our Healthy Communities Collaborative work was identified as one of the few national programmes that focus attention on measurement of outcomes and results."

Jenny Knowles concludes: "The latest Health Survey for England highlights that government's health information is not effectively reaching the public. This is where the Healthy Communities Collaborative can really help by getting information directly to people at the ground level and delivered in a way which is more meaningful to them. We hope this article will provide some insights into our approach and the impact on deprived communities."


Assisting the Cancer Reform Strategy

The Healthy Communities Collaborative model is also being implemented in the area of cancers. The recently published Cancer Reform Strategy one year on report "Maintaining Momentum, Building for the Future" highlights the work being conducted by the Improvement Foundation in breast, bowel and lung cancer, which is helping the Department of Health to achieve improved quality of cancer services over a five-year period until 2012.

The HCC work highlighted includes:

  • [3.22] The Improvement Foundation has been running a Healthy Communities Collaborative on cancer awareness in ten pilot areas for the past year, and have now started work with a further ten areas. All of the sites, which are based in Spearhead PCTs, have been undertaking targeted interventions to improve awareness of the signs and symptoms of breast, bowel and lung cancer, and to encourage those with symptoms to visit their GP
  • [3.23] Early signs suggest that there has been a better uptake of bowel screening in the PCTs running a Healthy Communities Collaborative, compared with other Spearhead PCTs. This may be a reflection of the fact that many of the sites targeted the rollout of bowel screening in their local area in their work.


The Healthy Communities Collaborative

The Healthy Communities Collaborative was set up by the Improvement Foundation with the support of the Health Development Agency in 2002.

Its aims are to:
1. Address health inequalities in areas of socio-economic disadvantage
2. Be the catalyst enabling communities and agencies to work together for common goals
3. Harness the skills and knowledge in communities and make them work to reduce inequalities
4. Recognise and change poorly functioning systems using rapid improvement techniques.

The collaborative is particularly focused on low-income groups, and the teams focus on the needs of older people, children and families.



Please click here to read more about the Healthy Communities Collaborative approach or click here to download an article summary.


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