Bridge believes that a holistic approach to wellbeing is required for tackling the UK’s wildfire of chronic illnesses. As Dr Brock Chisholm, the first Director-General of the World Health Organisation (1948–1953) famously said, “without mental health there can be no true physical health.” While mental and physical health are important elements of wellbeing, research by the UK government’s Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing has broadened the spectrum to include a list of Five Ways to Wellbeing; connecting, getting active, taking notice or mindfulness, continuous learning, and giving to others.
The scope of activities that are required to provide such an encompassing support service means that it’s difficult for any single organisation to succeed. This is why we’ve embraced partnership working. Through partnership working, we’ve been able to combine our limited resources to reach a greater number of people with better services, which is why we’re inviting you to consider joining the Bridge Partner Network. Because not everyone will agree on what a good partnership looks like, it’s important to find a good fit for your organisation. This blog will introduce you to our view on partnership working, so you can decide for yourself if a match has been made.
Partnership working in health and social care brings together separate organisations so that they can benefit from pooled expertise, resources and power sharing. The goal of a partnership is to enhance the efficiency and quality of service provision.
According to the Knowledge Biz, most partnerships share the following traits:
Searching for a definition of ‘partnership working’ delivers a wide range of answers. Even within the singular field of social work, there are contradictory takes on what a partnership means in practical terms. Some hold that a working relationship becomes a true partnership when all parties contribute a reasonable measure of service resources. Others believe that consultation can count as an equivalent to service delivery.
According to Jo Tunnard, former associate director of Child Poverty Action Group and current social welfare consultant:
The essence of partnership is sharing. It is marked by respect for one another, role divisions, rights to information, accountability, competence, and value accorded to individual input. In short, each partner is seen as having something to contribute, power is shared, decisions are made jointly and roles are not only respected but are also backed by legal and moral rights.
Blackburn Anglican, a Lancashire church with a vision of transforming communities through partnership working, defines the concept as follows:
Partnerships can be formed between a number of individuals, agencies or organisations with a shared interest. There is usually an overarching purpose for partners to work together and a range of specific objectives. Partnerships are often formed to address specific issues and may be short or long term.
We agree with Blackburn Anglican’s focus on the need for communication, coordination and cooperation. At Bridge, we find that successful partnerships depend more on these elements than it does on a particular role division.
For Bridge, the purpose of partnership working is to deliver a better service to a great number of people. With this goal in mind, we embrace the parts of the many different models of partnership working. The four primary models of partnership working that we borrow from are Networking, Referral Systems, Consortium, and Multi-Agency Working models.
As a potential partner, you’re going to wonder which network is best for you. The answer will depend on factors such as the nature of your services, your goals, and your organisational culture. If you’re considering the Bridge Partner Network, you can judge your fit by looking at our core principles:
In their document, Health and Social Care Working together to Develop the Workforce, NHS Wales reports back on the benefits they’ve attained through partnership working. Numerous benefits were noted in relation to intermediate care/reablement (p60), services to children and young people (p61), adult mental health (p62), and provision of holistic health and wellbeing services (p63). Benefits of integrated health and social care teams listed include:
According to The Health and Social Care Act of 2012 (Sections 13N and 14Z1), the NHS has a duty to promote and secure integrated care where it will improve the quality of services, and reduce inequalities in accessing services or improve outcomes.
The following presentation by the College of Social Work (presently known as the British Association of Social Workers, or BASW) discusses how the act impacts integration, cooperation and partnerships in the UK, including:
Bridge is always looking to form new partnerships with wellbeing services providers that share our goals and core values. If you’d like to learn more about us before deciding if the Bridge Partner Network would be a good fit for your organisation, download The UK Specialist’s Guide to Providing Holistic Health and Wellbeing Services.