NHS Wakefield District and Wakefield Council's Joint Public Health Unit piloted an asset and co-production approach as part of the programme reviewing their Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA).
At a time of ongoing pressure on council and wider public sector finances, it is important that commissioners and providers look at all available local assets. This can help to:
- Reduce the impact of reduced budgets, avoid too many of the same kinds of services being delivered in one area and not enough in another,
- Open up new opportunities for people and keep people who use services and their communities at the heart of those services.
The asset mapping work conducted used a range of methods to talk to people in the local community including a world café event, digital photography, face to face conversations and discussions in local groups.
All of the conversations focused on five questions:
- What makes us a strong community?
- What do we do as a community to make people feel better?
- What makes this a good place to be?
- What factors help us cope in times of stress?
- What makes us healthy in mind, body and spirit as a community?
Commissioners put the information that they found out about assets with the information from the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment. This has been used to make sure that, in the future, commissioning builds or strengthens existing community assets. They found that a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment process that gathers information about both assets and needs works well together with a model of support that is based on assets and co-production.
This "richer picture" provides "opportunities to develop a different commissioning framework, one which enables co-production working and builds and strengthens community assets to best address 'needs'".
Commissioners found that using an asset-based approach was "empowering" for communities and "their active participation in a more positive process which emphasised the talents, strengths and resiliencies within the community was clearly extremely rewarding". They also said that in areas where life is harder and assets are fewer, ways to engage and involve communities will be needed that gather information about both assets and needs.