Reflections on a collaborative learning process used to developed a shared approach to community capacity-building with a diverse range of community partners and organisations.
By Kim Penman, Health and Wellbeing Lead, Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership.
Note: Written in July 2017, this material informed the development of case study 2 in Community Capacity Building within the Multi-layered Preventative Partnership Working report.
Committing to exploring a strategic approach with a range of partners and participants
Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) published its first strategic plan in 2016 setting out its priorities to transform the way health and social care outcomes are delivered.
With an ageing population, increasingly complex needs and stubborn inequalities the HSCP’s strategic vision aspires to develop strong relationships with the communities we serve. By fully involving service users and carers in service design and improvement, and working closely with community organisations to develop supportive and inclusive communities, the HSCP’s intention is to jointly develop preventative approaches that reduce (or at least don’t increase) the demands on health and social care services and that contribute to improving population health and wellbeing.
The programme of collaborative learning focussed on community capacity building undertaken over the past two years has provided a lens to examine good practice both locally and nationally to inform the HSCP’s strategic approach to working with and empowering communities. In this time, the HSCP has also commissioned and delivered a series of programmes to further develop our relationship with communities, and this has also informed our strategic thinking.
Beyond a linear approach to complex relationship-building across partnerships
The original plan was to develop a simple strategic framework for the HSCP setting out our approach to community capacity-building to inform policy and practice. Through the journey of the collaborative learning activities it has become clear that a linear approach will not deliver.
What was also apparent, is the complexity at the community level, with a multi-faceted range of community support and capacity in place. One size certainly does not fit all with key community anchors varying across Aberdeenshire. The learning through this collaborative learning process has been that developing a shared approach to community capacity-building with the diverse range of community partners and organisations will be a slow burner. It will rely on local relationships and developing a shared understanding and ownership of what will make a difference. It will require HSCP staff to understand, recognise and engage with community partners to maximise local gain. At a strategic level the HSCP will need to steer these local relationships, providing ongoing evidence, good practice and resources to stimulate building community capacity for improved health and social care outcomes.
Using a participatory case study approach to build a shared perspective on current opportunities and challenges
The collaborative learning case study undertaken in partnership with What Works Scotland has provided valuable insight. Download the case study (PDF) or see itr as part of the full Multi-layered preventative partnership working report
This will inform the HSCP’s approach going forward. The HSCP is to establish four programme boards to lead the implementation of the HSCP’s strategic priorities. One of the four will focus on community empowerment and engagement. The case study outlines a useful framework for the Board.
It advocates that the HSCP:
- shares good practice, evidence of what works, practical toolkits to deepen understanding of preventative approaches and effective community participation.
- fosters local relationships between HSCP teams and community organisations to create local capacity and solutions
- implements evidence based models that will support individuals and communities to take ownership of their health and wellbeing.
First written in July 2017, this material informed the development of case study 2 in Community Capacity Building within the Multi-layered Preventative Partnership Working report.