Bulletin no. 4 8 August 2013

Ways to Wellness – a new approach to long term conditions in Newcastle

Welcome to the fourth Bulletin for the Ways to Wellness Project. The Bulletin assumes that readers are already familiar with the Ways to Wellness Project, so if you are not already aware of our work then please refer to the FAQs and the first three Bulletins, which tell the story so far.

Highlights of the month

  • Newcastle West CCG Patient Engagement Forum – we had an hours slot to update on Ways to Wellness and get their thoughts on what patients might think of the project. A useful session, many of the suggestions they raised we are already incorporating, but it was really good to know we are on the right track. The only real point they did not like about the project was the term “social prescribing”, which we need to change. Recruited some “champions” who have experienced social prescribing locally and may be able to help with the social marketing work later in the year.
  • Department of Health Social Impact Bond Network Event London – this event brought together 9 SEIF funded projects, who are working on health/social care related SIBS. The main common development issue across the projects was commissioning. LA and CCG commissioners do not yet have the skills or confidence to commission in such a different way, commissioning for outcomes is still relatively new and they usually have no experience of a social finance element and are nervous of taking risks. The event also had presentations from Big Society Capital Bank, Cabinet Office SIB team and Social Finance.
  • Nicola Weaver has agreed to join the Steering Group. Nicola is prescribing and social prescribing lead for the CCG and a GP in the West End, so brings valuable knowledge and experience to the Steering Group.
  • ICRF bid submitted – the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund will help us to pay for, amongst other things, independent “sense checkers” who will look at the project and make sure all elements of it stack up. We hear early September if we have been successful.

On-going development work since 18 June

  • Developing the Ways to Wellness Special Purpose Vehicle – work is progressing on the legal structure of the SPV and the draft CIC (Community Interest Company) articles of association are drafted. The Board recruitment process is just starting, having identified the keys skills that are needed, and having agreed that there will be modest remuneration for the Board members in order to get the high skill set that we need. We will work with a local recruitment firm to help us to identify possible Board members.
  • Operational Plan and Heads of Terms Agreement – We are working towards agreement of Heads of Terms with the CCG. Discussions with CCG finance and commissioning staff helped us to identify two steps to this process, firstly a preliminary discussion at the September meeting of the Governing Body (based upon a draft operational plan) and secondly, Heads of Terms agreed at the November meeting of the Governing Body. In order to facilitate this timetable we need to have an operational plan that can be put to the CCG Board for information/discussion in September and we are currently working on this.
  • Sharing Learning – we continue to be approached by people from other areas to share our progress to date. Recent meetings include people from Middlesborough (the VDA and public health) and also Gateshead (GVOC and Gateshead Council). We also continue to look at other social prescribing and social finance models to see what we can learn from others, and recently attended the North Tyneside Council Social Prescribing Stakeholder Consultation Event.
  • Corporate Identity – we approached 3 local designers and have just chosen our corporate identity for the project, so the new logo will hopefully be ready for the next e-bulletin!
  • Legal support for the project – following a mini “beauty parade” with local and national firms of solicitors we have appointed a local firm, Muckles, to provide legal support to Ways to Wellness. This will be particularly important at the contracting phase of development.
  • Investors – we have identified a long list of potential investors and plan to have completed initial conversations by mid- September.
  • Progress on Target Group/Referral Criteria – we have undertaken further work on draft referral guidelines, and these have been circulated initially to the primary care staff who are already engaged in Ways to Wellness to get their views on this.

Challenges this month

  • Outcomes framework –“Not everything that counts can be counted - not everything that can be counted, counts”. Currently spending quite a lot of energy pinning down an outcomes framework, which will help us to better clarify where the best outcomes are likely in terms of the target group and also to identify outcomes for the contracting process.
  • Management Information Systemsplanning - we held a useful meeting with participants including a GP Practice Manager and a freelance VCS IT specialist with a background in NHS IT and commissioning. We identified data usage, capture points and information governance issues amongst other things. There is a lot of work to do on this going forward.
  • Project Evaluation –following meetings with several potential partners (from local Universities and public health/health economics backgrounds) we have decided to work with Jane Gibbon, Newcastle University Business School who will act as critical friend in terms of designing the evaluation. Jane is also looking into possible funding streams to pay for a long-term independent evaluation. We still have the challenge to work out exactly what we will evaluate, when and why and whilst we have an outline plan, more work is needed on this.
  • Meetings, meetings and more meetings – there are lots of local stakeholders, not just within the CCG (staff and patients) and voluntary sector, but also in the local Acute Trust and local authority. We continue to meet with interested parties, sharing the vision and taking on board their ideas and suggestions wherever we can. Whilst non of these meetings alone are challenging, and in fact are usually very valuable, the time taken sharing and talking and explaining is significant and impacts on the time available to progress the development of the rest of the project. Recent meetings have included attending a meeting of local Mental Health Charities, meeting with a community cardiologist, plus clinical and prescribing leads at the CCG.

Sandra King – Project Director, on behalf of the Ways to Wellness Steering Group

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