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Public Services working in partnership for better health and wellbeing

SGBack in November, Sarah Wills, Gofal, delivered a workshop at our event ‘Public services working in partnership for better health and wellbeing’. In this blog, Sarah provides an oversight of who Gofal are, what they do and the positive developments since our event…

About Gofal

Gofal have a simple vision – ‘Good mental health and wellbeing for all’. Gofal work with:

  • People living with serious and enduring mental illness who face the most significant challenges in achieving and maintaining independent lives within communities
  • People experiencing mild to moderate mental health problems that impact on their ability to achieve and maintain healthy fulfilled lives within communities
  • The public, employers, groups, other charities and the media to improve mental health awareness and promote whole population mental health and wellbeing
  • Politicians, Government officials and health and social care professionals to inform and  improve  legislation, policy and practice

Today Gofal support over two-thousand people a year; our recovery model provides a strong evidence based framework to operate within and we are able to clearly evidence the positive difference our services make to people’s lives. Our regular consultation exercises mean that we know exactly what matters to people who use our services and this drives everything we do.  We work in thirteen Local Authorities and five Health Board areas.

We firmly believe that we will achieve more by working with others. We have worked hard to develop strong and constructive relationships locally, regionally and nationally. We work closely with statutory, third and private sector colleagues in pursuit of Gofal’s vision.

My Role

As Head of Service for the Central Region I have responsibility for overseeing the operational and strategic management of services across Cardiff and the Vale, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil.  Part of this has included overseeing the development and running of the Mental Health Dispersed Supported Housing Scheme in the Vale of Glamorgan.  The service was evaluated by Welsh Government after being highlighted as a model of good practice and for its innovative approach as it is a partnership between Gofal, Newydd Housing Association, Cardiff & Vale University Health Board and the Vale of Glamorgan.

The Event

Following the evaluation we were invited to host a workshop at the WAO’s Good Practice Event on Partnership approaches to service delivery for better outcomes in North and South Wales, and were also asked to take part in the plenary panel discussion on partnership working.  We delivered the workshops in North and South Wales in partnership with the Vale of Glamorgan and Newydd.

What’s Happened Since?

The Vale Dispersed Scheme has since expanded to an additional unit, taking it to 7 properties and is likely to grow by a further unit to meet increasing demand.

Following the event I was contacted by the Regional Development Manager for Supported Housing for Betsi Cadwaldr UHB, they were really impressed with the partnership working and successful outcomes achieved on our Mental Health Dispersed Supported Housing Scheme.  They visited in early February and we established a shared ethos and approach to service delivery.  We discussed ways in which our approach could be adopted in North Wales to better meet service user’s needs but also other ways in which the UHB could work with Gofal.

We were also asked to give the presentation to the Blaenau Gwent Independent Living Strategy Forum, with representatives from Supporting People, Social Services and Health.  They were very interested in learning more about our approach and have continued their discussions in relation to how the model could be replicated there.

We have successfully submitted a bid for a replica Dispersed Scheme in Merthyr on the back of our successes in the Vale of Glamorgan, working in partnership with the Community Mental Health Team, Social Services and Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association.  This is in the process of being developed now and is already generating a lot of excitement; especially about the opportunities it offers for step-down from higher level supported housing, more independence and a better quality of life for individuals as well as cost savings to Health and Social Services budgets.

We have also given a presentation to the Supporting People National Advisory Board on the Vale Dispersed Scheme, which has allowed the project and approach to have further exposure at a national policy level.  There was lots of discussion among the members of the board about how we ensure this type of partnership working is embedded at a national policy level.

Plans for the Future

We’ve begun discussions about arranging a trip to North Wales to meet with Betsi Cadwaldr UHB again alongside some of the Local Authority leads to see what can be developed there.

We’ve continued to receive interest from other Local Authorities about the scheme and our approach, for example, Monmouthshire Supporting People have recently contacted us to arrange a visit to the project which will take place in April.

We are continuing to make progress with establishing the new Dispersed Scheme in Merthyr; the first four individuals have been identified and we are just in the process of carrying out joint needs assessments with them as well as working with Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association to identify suitable properties.

Find out more about Gofal via their website.

The Good Practice Exchange work programme: What’s it all about?

Darllenwch y flogbost yn Gymraeg

Over the past few years the Good Practice Team in the Wales Audit Office have held a series of seminars and webinars to support public service reform. Ena Lloyd and Bethan Smith look at our programme of events for this year.

Ffotograff o Jess Hoare yn cymryd rhan yn nhrafodaeth panel Caerdydd

The plenary session at last year’s Digital Shared Learning Seminar

The Wales Audit Office created the Good Practice Team to bring together ideas and approaches to help public services improve. When we first started out, we used to get some quizzical looks! I guess it’s not something you would naturally associate with an Audit Office. But then, not every Audit Office has an Auditor General who feels so passionate about wanting to help public services improve. Huw Vaughan Thomas is one of a kind. He gives us a ‘safe to fail’ space to research, engage, learn from others and share knowledge, ideas and approaches in a variety of ways. Whether it be a seminar, webinar, blog, videos, twitter, or good old emails!

You can’t help but want to go the extra mile when you are given such trust and space, and why wouldn’t you.

What we have learnt over the past few years, is our Good Practice mantra of:

  • We don’t advocate a one size fits all approach;
  • Equally we don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel;
  • We believe in adapting not adopting; and using our very privileged position in the Wales Audit Office to bring together colleagues from right across the public, third sector and where appropriate the private sector.

How does the programme get pulled together?

We often get asked how we arrive at the topics in our programme. Our ‘starters for ten’ is our Wales Audit Office Strategic Plan in terms of our key priorities. So you won’t be surprised to see such topics as Digital, the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and Early Closure of Local Government Accounts included as part of the programme. The topics also have to work across public services and where we can, work in partnership with at least one other organisation. The more partners, the better. We then take soundings from our internal colleagues as well as many people who represent, design and deliver public services in Wales. In fact, the list of people who we chat to virtually or face to face gets longer every year! We meet some great speakers and delegates who just totally blow us away in terms of what they are doing. If you have any ideas about topics you’d like to see in our programme, please do get in touch!

What’s this year’s programme about?

In this year’s programme, if there was one theme that underpins the majority of events, it’s the Wellbeing of the Future Generation Act.

Here’s the programme overview. We have used working titles to give you a flavour of what the seminar is about. However, once we have worked with partners to determine what the focus is, the finalised details can be found here.

The bottom line though, our litmus test so to speak, is what public services colleagues think. At the end of every seminar, we ask for 5 minutes of delegate’s time to complete a ‘Call to Action’ form. Over 1000 delegates attend our events over a period of a year, so it’s a rich source of feedback. We always stress how important it is to us for delegates to complete these forms, not only does it provide us with feedback on the event, but what actions delegates will be taking away and what they’d like to see taken forward by us or other organisations. The feedback we receive also helps shape our programme.

Our events are completely free of charge to all public and third sector organisations in Wales. All we ask in return is that you come to our events armed with ideas, solutions and any issues or challenges in relation to the topic of the event. Our events are called ‘shared learning seminars’ which speaks for itself – we really want delegates to share and learn as much as they can, and take away as much useful information from the event as possible.

For those that have been to our events before, I’m sure they’ll say it’s a packed morning, and we make no apology for that. Our events are purposely designed to equip delegates with as much information and contacts as possible, in order for them to continue conversations after the event.

Every year we seem to have an increasing demand on our events which is brilliant, it means public services are really keen to work together and share ideas and approaches. We have a small budget for our events and whilst they’re free to public services, it is so important to let us know if you can no longer attend before the day of the event as we often have a reserve list for events. We understand work pressures take priority but we’d really appreciate advance notice so we can re-allocate your place to someone else.

Other than events, how else do you share information?

We understand the importance of sharing information in a variety of ways. Whilst seminars might work for one person, videos or blogs work better for another person. With that in mind, our various information channels are listed below:

We share details of seminars/webinars on our website– so keep a look out for them – or if you want to us to add your details onto our mailing lists to receive info for all or some events, then please email good.practice@audit.wales.