Leeds’ progress as an integrated care pioneer – Rebecca Charlwood

The integrated care pioneer programme supports 25 pioneers who are developing and testing new ways to deliver person-centred integrated health and social care services across England. As part of the new care models programme, the pioneers have been working on addressing the care and quality gap identified in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

Earlier today (22 September) they came together at the Pioneer Assembly to explore how they have been tackling some of the challenges around workforce. Leeds Pioneer hosted the Assembly and Rebecca Charlwood, Chair of their Health and Wellbeing Board talks about the work they have been doing in Leeds.

Leeds is the second largest city in the UK outside London, with a diverse population of over 770,000 people. We experience significant health, wealth and wellbeing inequalities, for example, travel just four miles between the areas of Scarcroft and Seacroft and life expectancy for the local population reduces by around seven years. So we have some big challenges, but these are alongside some fantastic opportunities and assets , including world leading health and care practice and research.

Earlier this year we launched the city’s new Health and Wellbeing Strategy , setting out a bold ambition to make Leeds the best city in which to live a healthy, happy life. Our strategy has five outcomes, 12 priorities and a selection of performance measures to guide and monitor our progress. We’ve been using the national focus on sustainability and transformation to bring our strategy to life, developing clear, joined-up plans, alongside our West Yorkshire partners, so we all understand the changes we need to make.

At the centre of all this work to plan for the future, we’re making sure we keep our focus fixed firmly on people. In Leeds we believe wellbeing starts with people. By that, we mean it is the conversations, connections and relationships between people that shape our experiences of health and care, both through the services we receive and within our local communities. We want to nurture a health and care system where people have more of the right kinds of conversations to unlock the most empowering solutions across a whole range of situations and problems.

Emphasising a ‘people centred’ culture and approach resonates with my own professional experiences. As a mental health support worker earlier in my career and later a UK compliance advisor for a national charity, I saw extensively how important it is that people get the right type of support at the right time, that it is tailored to their personal story and wherever possible centred around their homes and communities, rather than institutions.

With this focus on people and community in mind, I’ve been really encouraged to learn more about Leeds’ role in the integrated pioneer programme.

During the Assembly we talked about the journey we are on towards more integrated, people centred services in the community, such as our integrated neighbourhood teams and the new models of care we are developing in our localities and care homes, providing high quality, responsive services. We also talked about a key enabling factor – and the main theme of this Assembly – workforce. I am excited to share our approach to strengths based social work, and to hear from others about their work to create and support a more integrated health and care workforce.

We’re bringing together initiatives such as strengths based social work, health coaching, restorative practice and social prescribing, to create a model for doing things with people, rather than just doing things to them or for them. Our aim is to help people find their own strengths and solutions working with their families and their communities wherever this is possible and the right thing to do. We still have a long way to go to embed this, but by taking a whole city approach to culture, recruitment and career development we believe it is the right way forward.

The Assembly was a chance for quality conversations about our experiences towards developing high quality, joined up, person-centred care. Whilst each area faces unique challenges, many of the issues we need to address are similar. Leeds always welcomes the opportunity to share what we’ve learnt and to learn from others. This opportunity for collaboration and improving together – a ‘working with’ approach between different areas of the country – will be vital if we’re going to find the best ways to meet the current and future needs of the people we serve.

Image of Rebecca CharlwoodCouncillor Rebecca Charlwood is the Chair of the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board and has been the Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults for Leeds City Council since May 2016.

Councillor Charlwood moved to Leeds at the age of 20 for university and has called the city home ever since. After university, she was determined to pursue a career that could genuinely make a difference to the lives of others. So, she became a mental health support worker, with a focus on peer support .Her four years in that environment had a profound effect. She then went on to work for a national charity for a further four years as a quality officer. This role reinforced just how important it is that people receive the right support at the right time, in order to help them work towards recovery.

Councillor Charlwood then began a Masters degree in public policy and management. This led to her decision to get involved in politics, with a commitment to making sure the right people were making the right decisions about how best to support those who need it most.

Following completion of her Masters, Councillor Charlwood continued to work within the third sector, as a UK compliance advisor for a care provider. She was then elected to represent Moortown and Meanwood ward as a local councillor.

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  1. Elaine says:

    I echo the sentiments below, I have always been proud to have been part of the Leeds developments, as I previously worked in Leeds (and live here), but recently have been disappointed to find that it appears progress made in the early part of 2000’s has been reversed. I too am caring for an elderly male relative and have had to negotiate a complex system which is not seamless and relies heavily on carers. I would be happy to go into detail in private conversation or write a detail report if that would contribute to supporting improvements. I still work in the NHS and have been involved in New Models of Care.

  2. John says:

    I’m generally a huge supporter of what my city has been doing but just recently as a carer and advocate for a frail elderly relative with dementia, I have been left disappointed.

    Not with the individual professionals or the contribtions of individual parts of the system – the care at the point of delivery has generally been excellent – but with the lack of integration at the interfaces between acute, community, primary and social care.

    The system still seems designed for the convenience of providers and not patients and carers.

    I work in the heath and care system and it confounded me. What it’s like to navigate for a person without an advocate or carer I dread to think.

    Maybe I was unlucky and it’s an isolated case but the experience was poor and the waste of resources quite evident.

    Sorry Rebecca – still much to do. How can I help improve things ?