The Engaging Community Assets project, funded by the Scottish Government Third Sector Division, was built on the Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland) (RCGP Scotland) “Essence of General Practice” initiative1 and developed in partnership with Assist Social Capital and the International Futures Forum. ·
The project started in June 2012 with the aim of improving GP engagement with their communities by getting both the GP and community to identify local issues and improve some of these using social capital and Social Enterprises within the community. Research indicates that there is a connection between a person’s involvement in their community and their wellbeing (detailed in the final ECA).
The overall aim of the project was to improve patients’ wellbeing by signposting them to relevant services in their community with the potential to achieve this. An additional aim of the project was to develop a transferrable Engaging Community Assets model for any practice in Scotland.
One of the main findings from the project was that there was an underlying issue of social isolation with all of the issues identified by each of the communities.
The project team developed a model that could be adopted by other practices in Scotland which could to assist them to engage local community assets, focusing on this universal issue initially. Building relationships and professional connections were found to be extremely important to facilitate signposting from the health sector to Social Enterprises.
Another finding was that the term of this project was not long enough to enable Social Enterprises time to gain funding to expand their existing service or to create a new service to meet the demands from the community. This meant that the number of patients signposted to the Social Enterprises was relatively low and there was also insufficient time for substantial benefits to be realised and fed back to the practices involved.
In response to the outcomes of this project, including the main findings highlighted above, RCGP Scotland recommends that a follow on project be developed for a greater duration (around four or five years) possibly based on the model that has been designed, focusing initially on social isolation.
Practices are currently under a great deal of pressure from demand for clinical services. Successful development of this model will require a dedicated Engaging Community Assets Facilitator within the practice. Patients would benefit from the additional resource of a facilitator to build links with their communities and related organisations.
Download the Engaging Community Assets report here.