Why this research is a priority
Within the UK policy landscape, there is increased recognition of the importance of closer working arrangements with the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) sector to achieve population health outcomes and reduce inequalities. The NHS long term plan stipulates that partnership structures for health and care (Integrated Care Systems) should bring together local organisations ‘to redesign care and improve population health, creating shared leadership and action.’ As part of the COVID-19 response, the VCFSE sector has also played a significant role within local health and care systems in responding to the early and continuing effects of the pandemic.
About the project
The setting for the research is the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS); an ICS that is interesting because of its recent development of a VCFSE Alliance [www.healthierlsc.co.uk/VCFSE] to support partnership working with the VCFSE sector. In addition to providing insight into the COVID-19 response, this research will look more broadly at opportunities for partnership working to support health improvement; drawing upon practices, experiences, and expertise from within and across this regional footprint.
The project objectives are:
i. To understand structures for collaboration between the VCFSE sector and statutory organisations including models of integrated working
ii. To produce learning about VCFSE roles as part of a system response to COVID-19
iii. To scope the sector’s longer-term role within local integrated health and care systems, including the sector’s contribution to addressing inequalities in health.
iv. To undertake planning and feasibility work to shape future research
Data collection was completed between October and December 2020 and included strategic level interviews with senior leaders of VCFSE organisations, as well as organisations involved in the COVID-19 response ‘on the ground’.
Dissemination and outputs include:
* Findings report shared with ARC-NWC Steering Board and the Lancashire and South Cumbria ICS Board and VCFSE Alliance in Lancashire and South Cumbria
* Summaries for the ARC-NWC newsletter and website as well as for VCFSE partners.
* Academic dissemination – journal articles and conference presentations.
* Funding application for further research