New report: Realising the value of people and communities in their health and care

The Realising the Value consortium today published the report 'At the heart of health: Realising the value of people and communities'. This report brings together evidence on what good person- and community-centred approaches for health and wellbeing look like and their potentially wide-reaching benefits. We hope this report serves as a useful, practical resource for commissioners and other decision-makers seeking to find ways to empower individuals and communities in their health and care.

Our starting point is that health and care services need to work alongside individuals, carers, families, social networks and thriving communities. We believe there is a strong and growing case for this - informed by both ethics and evidence.

Report consolidates evidence and practice

Person- and community-centred approaches enable people to have a voice, to be connected, to have the opportunity to choose how best to live their lives and to have access to the support to do so. The Realising the Value partner sites demonstrate how lives are truly being transformed by these types of approaches:

“I was a quivering, shivering wreck on 21 tablets a day - and 20 months later I’ve been off medication for nine months and my children are amazed that one person can change so much in such a short space of time. They never thought it would be possible and neither did I - but it is”. Participant in Creative Minds group arts sessions run by the Artworks in Halifax

“Without Positively UK I wouldn’t have been the person I am today. Through the support groups I was able to make friends and I now have a social life. Through the motivation I received I went back to school, have gained a BA and look forward to getting back to work”. Positively UK service user

The evidence base for person- and community-centred approaches is still emerging, but our assessment is that there is good evidence in some areas such as peer support and self-management education, which we describe in this report. In other areas, such as those focusing on community asset-based approaches, the evidence is at an earlier stage of maturity, although there are many good examples of person- and community-centred approaches being implemented in frontline practice.

The value of person- and community-centred approaches is recognised in the 'NHS Five Year Forward View', which sets out a clear vision for health and care services to work in partnership with people and communities to fully realise their value and potential at the heart of health.

Yet despite the growing consensus about the need for health and care services to embrace the benefits of taking a more person- and community-centred approach, it is still far from being ‘the way we do things’ within health and care services.

What’s next?

It is important that we now do much more to dig deeper into both the evidence and practice of person- and community-centred approaches. ‘At the heart of health: Realising the value of people and communities’ focuses on five areas of promising practice:

  • peer support
  • self-management education
  • health coaching
  • group activities to support health and wellbeing
  • asset-based approaches in a health and wellbeing context.

Over the coming months, the Realising the Value programme will be looking to continue and expand on these foundations. We will be working with local partner sites across these areas of practice to understand their experience of implementing person-and community-centred approaches on the ground, and to develop practical tools to support implementation and greater adoption. We will be seeking to improve our understanding of what influences the behaviour of individuals as well as what factors can positively impact on organisational culture. And, later in 2016, we will be making recommendations for policymakers and others about what is needed to support change on the ground and create the conditions for these approaches to flourish.

To find out more about the programme please visit


Suzanne Wood

Suzanne Wood is an Improvement Fellow at the Health Foundation.

Annie Finnis

Annie Finnis

Annie Finnis

Director of Operations and Impact, Health Lab

Annie was Director of Operations and Impact in the Health Lab at Nesta.

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