Health and social care devolution: findings from public ‘conversations’ published

A programme of work took place in February and March 2016 intended to bring the Greater Manchester public up to speed with health and social care devolution, make them aware of the nature of the step-change required in the relationship between them and public services, and test to what extent they are ready to “take charge” of staying fit and healthy.

A partnership of 30 VCSE infrastructure organisations and Healthwatches, led by GMCVO, was commissioned to engage and consult with people least likely to be reached by the mainstream Taking Charge Together campaign.

With the help of almost 100 frontline voluntary and community groups, partners held 138 face-to-face ‘conversations’ (focus groups) with 1,837 people, most of whom also completed an on-line survey. The kinds of people involved included refugees, young unemployed people, BME elders, deaf people, people with learning disabilities, and people who abuse alcohol or drugs. Groups were asked to discuss:

  • Do you think you know what people should do for themselves and their families to stay fit and healthy?
  • What do you think encourages people to do these things?
  • What do you think makes it difficult for people to do these things?

The findings of the engagement work are detailed in Taking Charge Together: Final Report on VCSE and Healthwatch organisations' Community Engagement Strand. The findings are encouraging, challenging and to some extent surprising. For example:

  • Almost everyone, although they had previously been unaware of the aims of Greater Manchester devolution and proposed changes to health and social care, was very enthusiastic about it.
  • There really didn’t seem to be a lack of knowledge about what people should be doing
  • The problems people had with doing the things to stay fit and healthy, and the solutions they proposed, had little to do with health and social care services as such
  • Changes to the environment were seen as vital, using the legal powers of public sector organisations, eg access to fast food versus fruit and vegetables; having pedestrian crossings and benches in the right places
  • Social connections were also seen as crucial to wellbeing and motivation
  • Life transitions really matter (eg losing a job, children moving away, gaining caring responsibility) as they can have a huge impact on wellbeing both short and long term in terms of motivation, connections and access to time and money

This report will influence the future design of health and social care in Greater Manchester, at both locality and city-region levels.

The report and slides summarising the report’s findings and recommendations are attached.

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