Engaging Community Assets

Project Overview

The Engaging Communities Project was a Scottish Government-funded project building on the “Essence of General Practice” initiative of the RCGP Scotland and was developed in partnership with Assist Social Capital and the International Futures Forum.

With an increased focus on better health and social care integration and an abundance of social issues in communities across Scotland, this initiative aims to bring a new approach to not only determine the needs within each individual community but to focus on the positive capability and capacity of that community and empower them to develop services

  1. by building local relationship networks to improve the social capital and thus the overall well-being of the community
  2. and, through engaging local social enterprises and community organisations to enable partnership working addressing local, suitable and relevant solutions

Assist Social Capital supported the learning journey of the project across both areas by 

  1. supporting the hosting of Community Engagement meetings based on a World Cafe approach asking the local participants about (i) what they think was good about their community, (ii) which organisations are already available in the community creating health and well-being and, (iii) which issues they could identify within the community needing to be addressed
  2. supporting the recruitment of local social enterprise as well as building connections between them and the local community as well as GPs with the aim to create a local partnership model

Findings

  • A key finding 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 main point 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

Recommendations

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.

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