Health and social care organisations face a major challenge – how to engage people, patients and communities to deliver better health and wellbeing outcomes for less cost and to address health inequalities at the same time.
Many commissioners and service managers are starting to recognise the benefits of such an approach.
“Without citizen participation and community engagement fostered by public service organisations, it will be difficult to improve penetration of interventions and to impact on health inequalities.” (Marmot (2010) Fair Society, Healthy Lives, p151).
At Health Together, we know how to commission for and deliver effective engagement to improve health and wellbeing. We combine practical experience of policy making and programme delivery with academic rigour and in-depth knowledge of the evidence base.
Health Together offer a bespoke service. We can help you identify what your organisation wants to do and how to make it happen. From research and needs assessment, through to commissioning, programme planning, delivery and evaluation we can support you to engage with people, patients and communities.
We can provide facilitation, policy development, evidence briefings, report writing, programme design, research and evaluation.
The Health Together team believe in the power of active citizens to improve health and wellbeing and help tackle inequalities. Judy White, Director of Health Together, says;
“We believe that healthy communities are those where people are actively engaged in the life of the community and in shaping services – including those people who have not previously got involved. We believe that in the future health and social care services will need to make community and patient engagement central to everything that they do.”
The core team of Health Together are all part of the Institute for Health and Wellbeing at Leeds Metropolitan University. Active for many years in the field of community engagement the core team have developed successful programmes and policies, conducted numerous research and evaluation projects and conducted large-scale reviews of evidence and knowledge on what really is effective.
Judy White, Director of Health Together
Judy set up the early adopter Health Trainer programme in Bradford and helped develop health trainers regionally and nationally. She has evaluated health trainer and community health champion programmes and published numerous reports and articles. Judy is now a senior lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University having spent 10 years in the voluntary and community sector and over 20 years in health promotion in the NHS.
Mark Gamsu, Visiting Professor at the Institute for Health and Wellbeing
Mark has worked strategically at a regional and national level both in the voluntary and community sector and in local government. Mark’s particular expertise is in developing and implementing practical community led actions to meet local need in ways that are consistent with but not constrained by government policy. He has in-depth knowledge of areas that include, the Social Determinants of Health; Joint Strategic Needs Assessments; Health and Wellbeing Board Development and Citizenship and Health.
Jane South, Professor of Healthy Communities
Jane at Leeds Metropolitan University is one of the country’s leading experts on community engagement. She leads a research programme on active citizens, communities and health and has a national and international profile for her work on lay health workers and volunteer roles in health. Research and evaluation of public health practice and developing bespoke frameworks for practice in local government and the NHS are key areas of expertise.
All the team are experienced policy makers, teachers and facilitators.
The core team of Health Together work closely with a number of partners and associates to deliver a wide ranging set of skills and experience.
Jenny Woodward, Research Fellow and Sue Rooke, Administrator, provide additional support and resource.
Jenny Woodward is an experienced qualitative researcher in the field of health promotion. Her work encompasses health trainers, health champions, older people, child weight management programmes and school meals research. Her background is in communications and marketing – and she uses the skills developed there to produce accessible, concise briefings of health promotion research and evidence.
Sue Rooke is an experienced, efficient administrator with strong skills in event management, project management, IT and new media.
Health Together work closely with clients to identify what an organisation wants to achieve and how that can happen.
The following are some examples of areas of work we have particular expertise in:
- Research and evaluation
We are experienced in undertaking both large and small scale research and evaluation, specialising in qualitative methods which focus on assessing patients, users and other stakeholders’ views as well as on evaluating outcomes. We have developed an evaluation framework to use when assessing citizen involvement in neighbourhood planning.
Seven evaluations of Health Trainer Services in Bradford, North Lincolnshire, Scarborough, East Riding and Kirklees have been conducted by the team. These can be downloaded from the Health Trainers England website here.
Jane South and Jackie Green from the Centre for Health Promotion Research are authors of “Evaluation.” This definitive book from 2006 combines the theory and principles of evaluation with practical implementation, see here.
- Evidence and knowledge
We undertook a large study called People in Public Health which looked at approaches to developing and supporting lay people in public health roles. For more information about the project and a full summary please visit the website.
Four evidence reviews and two evaluations of Community Health Champion programmes for Altogether Better have been completed – these can be accessed on their website.
A recent evaluation of the Sunderland Health Champion programme is available here
- Training and Facilitation
We offer seminars, workshops and bespoke whole day training events on all aspects of community engagement including policy, practice and evaluation – both for commissioners and service providers and for communities themselves. We are accredited with the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) as a training centre and in March 2013, Sarah Lockyer, one of our delivery partners, ran a two day training programme for health champions which evaluated very well. Click here for more information.
Early in 2013 we were commissioned by the Local Government Association to facilitate a series of area based workshops on a whole system approach to assets based working and health improvement in Walsall, which we did in collaboration with the Federation of Community Development Learning. Click here for more information.
In early 2013 we were also commissioned by Sheffield City Council to facilitate a series of consultation events to engage the voluntary and community sector in the development of their joint strategic needs assessment. Judy White and Mark Gamsu can be viewed here talking about the events they facilitated:
- Programme Review and Development
We are available to act as consultants to any agency wanting to set up a programme to engage communities or patients, covering all stages of development from reviewing existing provision or developing an initial idea, then programme design and implementation, through to monitoring and evaluation. For example, in Spring 2013 we undertook a review of community health champion provision in Lincolnshire. For the report of this scoping review, please click here.
We publish regular briefings on Government policy and are able to help organisations design their own bespoke community or patient engagement policies.
Our model of working is rooted in working collaboratively, particularly with the voluntary and community sector, to bring community voices into decision making around health and promote an assets based approach, as these examples from our current work illustrate. We offer a flexible and bespoke service and are happy to undertake very small commissions as well as larger ones.
We have just completed an evaluation of the East Riding Health Trainer programme of work with fishermen and the report should be available by mid October 2013.
We are currently engaged in evaluating the reading programme run by the Bradford District Care Trust and will be reporting on that at the end of October 2013.Healthwatch
We are delighted to be part of the winning tenders to run Healthwatch in Leeds and Wakefield. Jess Parker, Business Development Director, Touchstone said:
“Touchstone is delighted to be delivering Healthwatch Leeds in partnership with Health Together, Leeds Involving People, Inclusion North and the people of Leeds. Health Together offered invaluable insight and made huge contributions during tendering and mobilisation of Healthwatch. Their national influence, academic rigour and ability to analyse the evidence, offering practical, applied solutions has brought strength to our unique voluntary and academic sector partnership.”Walsall District Council – facilitation of area based workshops
In late 2012 we were asked by the Local Government Association to facilitate a series of six area based workshops for Walsall District Council working with NHS Walsall. These aimed to rebalance practice in Walsall to place greater emphasis on working in partnership with the public taking an assets based approach Denise Parry, Area Manager for Walsall South said:
“I have recently had the pleasure of working with Mark Gamsu from Health Together. I found him to be thoroughly professional and very supportive always prepared to go the extra mile. We particularly appreciated his understanding of community assets and how they could be developed.”Sheffield City Council – facilitation of engagement at JSNA consultation events
In January/February 2013 we facilitated group activities at a series of four Joint Strategic Needs Assessment consultation events for Sheffield City Council and provided an on the spot summary of the key points emerging from the groups. We also contributed to a members review of public health, advising on what ‘people-centred public health’ might look like. Richard Parrot a commissioner with SCC said:
“Mark and Judy have been a huge asset to us in the public engagement on our latest JSNA. Their ability to combine expert knowledge with a genuinely people centred approach has helped stakeholders from all sectors engage positively with our JSNA and has made a real impact.
NHS Lincolnshire – scoping the work of community health champions
We are working in collaboration with Public Health, NHS Lincolnshire, the University of Lincoln and Development Plus, a leading voluntary sector organisation based in Lincoln, to scope the work community health champions are currently doing across the county. We will be producing a report to help inform business planning for Public Health. Teresa Roche, Public Health Consultant said:
“Health Together have supported our Community Champion Scoping exercise - it has been a pleasure working with them their knowledge has helped shape our thinking and their collaborative approach has made all the partners working on this project feel included, we look forward to the report that they are producing for us which will help inform the business case we are developing.”
News and events
Putting ‘the public’ back into public health - Building the experience of citizens into public health evidence
People-Centred Public Health
A new book by Jane South, Judy White and Mark Gamsu, People Centred Public Health, was launched on Friday 15th February 2013. See www.policypress.co.uk
Dr Ruth Hussey (Chief Medical Officer for Wales) and David Hunter (Professor of Health Policy and Management, Durham University) spoke at the event and a debate on what an equitable and people-centred public health system would look like took place. For links to the talks and debate click on the appropriate link below.
To view Peter Duncan's presentation "Public Health moves back to local authorities – are there lessons from the recent history of health promotion?" please click here.
To listen back on Dave Bucks presentation "Clustering of Unhealthy Behaviours" please click here.
Testimonials from previous clients
Here is a selection of comments from previous clients of the Health Together team:
- Alyson McGregor, Co Director Altogether Better, 9.05.12:
“Judy has many years of experience of working in health improvement and has a deep understanding of the issues we are dealing with dealing with which has enabled us to commission evaluations which not only provide us with valuable evidence of our work but which will also enable us to influence and inform our future practice. The benefit to of our continuing relationship with Judy and CHPR is that they are unique in understanding our values, principles and practice and that they work with us to develop our thinking and ideas about the evaluation we are commissioning. They bring not only academic rigour and challenge but also an ability to work sensitively and diplomatically with our diverse group of stakeholders enabling us to collectively develop our thinking about the evaluation we have commissioned. I hope that we will continue to work together and would without reservation recommend them to prospective commissioners.”
- Julie Parker, Public Health Lead, Sunderland Teaching Primary care Trust, 8.5.12:
“We recently commissioned Leeds Metropolitan University to carry out the Sunderland Health Champion evaluation. When we commissioned the evaluation we understood that the deadlines were tight, and yet the university performed to a high standard and met every deadline. One of their biggest assets is great team work and excellent communication skills, not only with each other, but with Public Health at Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust. I would definitely recommend them.”
- Antony Sadler, Service Director - Commercial Services, Communities, Wakefield MDC, 14.05.12:
“Leeds Metropolitan University was commissioned on behalf of the Wakefield Together Partnership to develop an Evaluation framework to support its Area Working arrangements. Through the project, Professor Jane South has worked closely with the Partnership which has provided an excellent opportunity for collaboration. The project has involved the facilitation of stakeholder workshops, and multi-agency Director working sessions; development of a comprehensive Outcomes framework and a bespoke Evaluation toolkit. Wakefield’s partnership with the University has been found to be extremely positive and is considering further opportunities for collaboration in the future.”
- Chris Nield, Consultant, NHS Sheffield and Gareth Johnstone, Community Development & Health Commissioner, NHS Sheffield, 11.05.12:
“The team (at Health Together) worked with us closely (on the evaluation) to achieve an understanding of how we achieved the results, visiting the Sheffield site and meeting staff involved in the process of data collection and reporting. Gathering data from volunteers was challenging but the flexible approach of the team through Judy’s leadership enabled this to be collected and counted. Judy’s positive process and approach means the final report can be used to meet the requirements of key stakeholders demonstrating the economic costs and benefits...”
- Gateshead NHS, September 2011:
“Mark Gamsu designed and facilitated an event 'Engagement and Responsibility' for Gateshead PCT. Participants included the LA, PCT and Voluntary and Community Sector. Mark was an excellent facilitator who managed to engage the group in lively and challenging debate. From the event Mark developed an action plan to develop a more strategic approach to engagement across Gateshead. Evaluation from participants was positive including: "Mark demonstrated huge knowledge and was able to be flexible to respond to the demands in the room”
- Richard Caulfield Chief Executive Voluntary Sector North West, September 2011:
“Mark Gamsu’s knowledge of how the health system works and of the voluntary and community sector has proven invaluable in the work he has conducted for Regional Voices and Voluntary Sector North West. He is good at communicating with professionals in both arenas and analyses information in an effective way producing accessible reports that inform key decision makers.”
The team have published widely in the area of community engagement.
- Jane South co-edited an edition of Perspectives in Public Health which was published in July 2013. This includes: a guest editorial ‘Building the evidence base for health trainers’ written by Dr Shelina Visram and Professor Jane South; ‘A change of mind set: one health trainer’s view of the service’ by Tony Crawford (a health trainer in Leeds) and Jenny Woodward (Health Together); and ‘Addressing inequalities in health – what is the contribution of health trainers?’ by Judy White, Jenny Woodward and Jane South (all from Health Together). All these articles were published in Perspectives in Public Health, Special Issue on Community Health Workforce July 2013 Vol. 133 No. 4
- South, J., Branney, P. & Kinsella, K. 2011a. Citizens bridging the gap? Interpretations of volunteering roles in two public health projects. Voluntary Sector Review, 2, 297-315.
- South J, Sahota P,(2010) Harnessing People Power in Health Promotion, Primary Health Care, 20, 8 16-21
- White, J., South, J. (2012) Health trainers can help people manage long term conditions. Primary Health Care, 22 (2), 26-31
- White, J., South, J. (2012) Editorial: Health Together: how community resources can enhance clinical practice, British Journal of General Practice September 2012
- Woodall, J., White, J. & South, J. (2012) Improving health and well-being through community health champions: a thematic evaluation of a programme in Yorkshire and Humber, J Perspectives in Public Health published online 13 August 2012 DOI: 10.1177/1757913912453669
The online version of this article can be found at: http://rsh.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/08/10/1757913912453669
We publish regular briefings on Government policy and are able to help organisations design their own bespoke community or patient engagement policies. One of our team, Mark Gamsu, has co-authored a briefing on Healthwatch with the Local Government Association. Useful to read alongside this is a further briefing on Healthwatch from the Local Government Association.