Aberdeenshire photoThe case-site research in Aberdeenshire is currently focused on using collaborative action inquiry/research to support and explore public service reform; working through inquiry cycles of scoping, exploring evidence and testing change. Aberdeenshire CPP and WWS are working together to generate a series of such inquiry and research activity, as relevant, across the CPP, Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) and third/community sectors. These are currently concerned to:

Investigate the building of community capacity to support health and social care integration: Aberdeenshire HSCP is seeking to work with communities and the third sector to improve health and well-being, reduce health inequalities, and release pressures on health and social care (public) services. A ‘cross service and sector’ Local Inquiry Team of nine staff – from the HSCP, the CPP, the third sector interface (Aberdeenshire Voluntary Action), the community sector and WWS – is bringing together experience in community capacity-building, improvement and organisational change, strategy and policy, public health, and third sector development. This depth of knowledge and experience is being used to undertake an inquiry into the role of ‘community linking’ and exploring a local example in the community of Insch. Such a community linking ‘service’ looks to build the capacity of local people and groups to improve and sustain their local health and well-being – sometimes through developing community activities, at others by linking to existing community and third sector activity and wider public services.

The learning from this inquiry can then be used to inform different elements of the HSCP’s community capacity building strategy – supporting the development of a diverse range of initiatives and approaches between public and third/community sectors.

For reflections from the Inquiry Team at the WWS National Retreat (Feb 2016) on their progress with and learning from this inquiry, read here.

Supporting and exploring the ‘Christie’ approach to public service reform: the CPP and WWS are seeking to support the practical development of public service reform as established by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 and ‘putting Christie into action’. A series of collaborative inquiry activity with partners from the public and third/community sectors working within Shire-wide and local area contexts is envisaged.

An initial collaborative learning event in December 2015 brought together approx. 35 staff from public and third sectors in Aberdeenshire – and a range of different services including health services and management, public health, social care, community learning development, rural partnerships and third sector development, community economic development, service improvement, waste management, and local and central community planning. Discussions explored local experiences of the ‘Christie’ principles of ‘partnership’ and ‘participation’ and a report of the learning is being produced. Further learning events exploring ‘prevention’ and ‘performance’ are anticipated and related sharing of learning. Other inquiry work is now building from this early scoping work with the central CPP Board and Executive now exploring their approach to development and implementation of a Local Outcomes Improvement Plan.

Participatory research: in parallel, some examples of relevant policy and practice development can be generated with those working across all level of the public and third sectors as they become involved in learning inquiries and events. For instance, an example of a combined ‘action learning set – improvement methodology’ approach within health and social care service integration that has been developed in Aberdeenshire by two practitioners is being generated and can inform discussions within the wider action inquiry and research processes.

This mix of collaborative and participatory approaches will support the CPP, HSCP and third sector in developing local public service reform and WWS in working with them to explore and share learning relevant to ‘Christie’ and developing deeper understanding of public service reform in Aberdeenshire and Scotland.

James Henderson, Research Associate with WWS and based at Edinburgh University and Nick Bland, a WWS Co-Director and Visiting Professor at Edinburgh University are working with Aberdeenshire CPP, HSCP and the third sector to develop this CAR approach.

For further information contact, James at: james.f.henderson@ed.ac.uk and/or Sophie Humphries, Aberdeenshire CPP Strategic Development Officer at: sophie.humphries@aberdeenshire.gov.uk