Wrapping health and care services around vulnerable people

Today (Wednesday 23 January) the new NHS England Chairman, Lord David Prior visited Doncaster to explore how health and care services are working together to improve the wellbeing of people in the borough.

Lord Prior spent the morning learning about the ground-breaking Doncaster Complex Lives Alliance that has been operational for the past 18 months. The Alliance, which consists of a wide range of partners including NHS, Doncaster Council, St Leger Homes and a number of voluntary organisations, works with people with a variety of complex issues such as homelessness, rough sleeping, addiction and offending behaviour.

Colleagues from Complex Lives

One of the latest additions to the Complex Lives service is the introduction of a new GP and nurse drop in session, providing vulnerable people with access to vital primary care services.

The weekly drop in sessions are a good example of Doncaster’s commitment to providing health and care services where people need them the most. They take place every Thursday at Changing Lives, a dedicated centre that offers vital support for some of the most vulnerable people in Doncaster.

Working in partnership with Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, Primary Care Doncaster provide this service, with an annual investment of £70,000.

Laura Sherburn, Chief Executive of Primary Care Doncaster said: “I am delighted with the new drop in sessions at Changing Lives, providing much needed access to primary care services for some of our most vulnerable people in Doncaster.

“We know that people who need our help the most can find it difficult to access mainstream services so providing this new facility means that people can access health and care services in an environment they feel comfortable with.”

During his visit, Lord Prior visited Changing Lives and learnt more about this new service and the impact the Alliance has had on Doncaster people to date. Lord Prior also met one of the service users who the Alliance has supported to find safe accommodation and is now working with to integrate back into society.

The newly published NHS Long Term Plan reaffirms the need to focus on providing services in a joined up way. Strengthening the work of Complex Lives, there is a particular focus in the plan on health inequalities relating to homelessness and a commitment to improve access to specialist homelessness NHS mental health support, integrated with existing outreach services. This is just one of the main areas of focus for Doncaster’s Complex Lives service.

A further key commitment from the NHS Long Term Plan is a focus on severe mental health problems and commitment to a new community-based offer will include access to psychological therapies, improved physical health care, employment support, personalised and trauma-informed care, medicines management and support for self-harm and coexisting substance use.

The Complex Lives service has these areas of focus at its core – more than 100 of our most vulnerable people in Doncaster experiencing social isolation and suffering mental health problems are supported by the Complex Lives team.

Jackie Pederson, Chief Officer, NHS Doncaster CCG

Jackie Pederson, Chief Officer at NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The Complex Lives service is a great example of how services in Doncaster are working together to improve the health and wellbeing of some of our most vulnerable people.

“The Complex Lives Alliance demonstrates how partnership working across health and social care can have a huge impact on helping those that have or are at risk from entering periods in their lives that can have negative impacts on their health and wellbeing.”

Jo Miller, Chief Executive, Doncaster Council

Jo Miller, Chief Executive, Doncaster Council said: “Our work on Complex Lives is a great example of a highly committed, multi skilled team approach helping people who need joined up support and who also need hope for the future. It shows that for some people our current health, care and supported housing services do not always respond to their specific needs, and we need to work in very different ways than before. Getting to the root cause of the issues people face is crucial – for example, the impact of childhood trauma is a major issue.

“This goes for policy too – we have to be clear that this work is responding at a local level to a national crisis in homelessness and the health challenges that come with that. This needs joined up national policy solutions, and the NHS Long term Plan is an encouraging step in that direction but much more is still needed. We will be taking this joined up work even further in the next twelve months and the support of the NHS Long Term Plan and local health services will be a vital part of that”.

Following the launch of the NHS Long Term Plan, we are now asking the people of Doncaster for their views on how Doncaster Council and Doncaster CCG can work more closely together to jointly commission health and care services. Please read our vision and answer four short questions.

A video is now available of the event and was developed in partnership with the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System. Please click below to view: