Innovations in health and social care -KeyRing

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What is the problem this innovation solves?

Current models of support and care are expensive, do not lead to greater independence for the individual, there is a lack of flexibility and they struggle to become rooted in the local area. People find it hard to access ordinary housing, maintain social and community connections and live an ordinary life. People who would benefit from accessing preventative support, cannot do so until they are in a crisis situation This means they take longer to get back on an even keel and their support costs significantly more for longer.


Each KeyRing network consists of 9 -20 people living in their own homes, a volunteer lives in the neighbourhood, providing good neighbour support to the network members. By working with the network as a whole KeyRing offers support that is flexible and personalised, mobilising peer, community, family and paid-for support. A network grows as people gain confidence and skills. Members move on from support but can continue to be involved in the social and mutual support aspects of the network, and access support to prevent crisis. Each network is different and reflects the interests of its members.

Evidence base

Social Value Toolkit, VODG 2016; Alder evaluation of ‘Networks plus’ in Walsall - identified ASC/NHS costs for 26 Plus Members before/without KeyRing being £1,157,375 and when supported by KeyRing £584,415, gross full year savings of £572,960, enabling the funding of 51 ‘preventative’ Network places; Emerging Horizons 2015 Recovery Network – people recovering from substance misuse formed a network; this stability meant more effective access to therapeutic and other services, with greatly improved abstinence rates; Hull University evaluation of Ancora project – current evaluation of 5 year ‘help through crisis’ partnership project.

Expected impact

A neighbourhood benefits from a KeyRing Network by helping to reduce loneliness and isolation, support community activity and engagement, maintain tenancies, reduce anti-social behaviour,  increase income as people find work, support access to appropriate benefits, mobilise community action, and increase volunteering. 

It will have reduced use of services, improved health and wellbeing, independence and active citizenship. There will be cost savings to  the local authority by ensuring ‘just enough support’.

Stage/spread (where it is/how much is there?)

Currently KeyRing Networks are based in 22 local authorities, with 54 networks in total, Oldham has 12 networks. 
The impact of austerity on preventative services was severe, however we are now seeing a renewed focus on the preventative agenda in social care bringing a demand for effective, community empowerment models and leading to commissioning of new networks.

What would councils/health organisations/local areas need to do or have in place to enable it to happen?

Outcome based commissioning – allow provider to flex service up and down to respond to increasing and decreasing need; Place-based co-produced commissioning; trusting partnership with providers; a planned approach to re-provision of institutional/group support; focus on neighbourhood support not social care groups.

What would kill it?

Hours based commissioning, intrusive regulation; not recognising the value of the volunteer or the contribution of the network members; the belief that KeyRing is low level support, whereas KeyRing is multi layered support.

Where to go for more information?