Case study: Norfolk and Waveney Community Voices – the power of shared insight across partners in an integrated care system

Case study summary:

Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System (ICS) are working with local communities to understand their experiences of health and care and ensure their voices are heard when planning and delivering services. Their insights and data are used to plan services and drive resources to where they are needed the most.


Norfolk and Waveney ICS

What was the aim:

To listen and respond to feedback from local communities by giving trusted communicators resources to engage communities, signpost to information and services and gather their insights. System partners are working collaboratively to respond to this.

What was the solution:

Norfolk and Waveney ICS are working with their local voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector and district councils to pilot a new community engagement programme, which has been running during 2022.

Community Voices works with trusted local communicators to speak with communities who do not engage easily with local health services including people affected by substance misuse and poor mental health. Listening to and learning from voices in these communities helped system partners to develop targeted resources, such as online information and subject-specific webinars, with messaging built around the issues identified through the feedback.

It has demonstrated how these conversations can help develop an in-depth understanding of what matters to local communities to influence how services are planned.

What were the challenges:

Partners across the system delivering similar community engagement work often have different job titles, so identifying them and building connections was key to aligning roles and ensuring the right people were involved.

Lack of resources including time, a reduction in public sector finances and high levels of staff vacancies, meant the system was facing pressures on its services.

What were the results:

In Great Yarmouth, community champions are averaging around 100 conversations a month through their trusted network of 29 ‘go to people’ across 11 community organisations. This builds on the COVID-19 related community engagement and communication work with the most hard-to-reach vulnerable residents who felt isolated during the pandemic. Using local insight and needs, two community operated food clubs were established to help make a difference to the lives of people in the area.

Norwich City Council have developed a live data feed that focuses on key neighbourhoods in their community like those affected by substance misuse and poor mental health. The data gives an indication of how positively or negatively an issue is being talked about within a community and how important this issue is on the ground. Responding to issues identified from this data and building it into how they plan and deliver services, Norwich is designing training that gives their trusted communicators practical tips on how to have specific conversations around mental health, bereavement, addiction and improving individuals’ overall wellbeing.

Norfolk and Waveney ICB are creating an ‘insight bank’ as part of the Community Voices project. They’re working with the University of East Anglia (UEA) to look at the best way to collect, store and use this anonymised, qualitative data as this will empower systems to move beyond information about treatment and services, to hear people’s whole lived experience.

What were the learning points:

Paula Boyce, Strategic Director at Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: “Our Community Champions have enabled powerful and trusted conversations to develop between local services and local communities. This was especially important in encouraging vaccine uptake during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now able to reach right into and learn about all the diverse communities that live and work in Great Yarmouth. Building trust has been central to achieving that.”

Paul Hemingway, Associate Director for Communications and Engagement at NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB said: “Our ultimate vision is to widen access to anyone working to support people and communities in Norfolk and Waveney, not just those working as part of the community voices project. It could provide a place to ‘bank’ the informal insight gathered daily by those working in a variety of settings in health, housing, and debt advice, for example. Insight which is otherwise lost but that is crucial to understanding a person’s whole wellbeing.”

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