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Ten key actions to put people and communities at the heart of health and wellbeing

“I’m still amazed by how much my perspective on my diagnosis and future has changed. I feel so invigorated. For the first time since being diagnosed I feel like I am being treated as a whole person.”

- Person living with HIV receiving peer support from a Realising the Value local partner site

Today the Realising the Value consortium is launching a set of practical resources to show how person- and community- centred approaches can help to shift power to people and communities. Based on our new learning and evidence, we believe that supporting this shift can improve the health and wellbeing of people, while also making better use of health and care system resources. The Realising the Value programme was funded by NHS England to support delivery of the NHS Five Year Forward View, which recognises that new ways of working with people and communities are needed to address current challenges.

What are person- and community-centred approaches - and why do they matter?

Person- and community-centred approaches for health and wellbeing are wide-ranging. They can span from support that complements clinical care for people with long-term conditions, such as peer support, to everyday community activities that enable people to improve their health and wellbeing, such as playing in a local football team. All are united by a shared purpose to put people and communities at the heart of health and wellbeing.

During the 18-month Realising the Value programme, we have worked with partner sites across the country to show how five person- and community-centred approaches: peer support, self-education management, health coaching, asset-based approaches and group activities, can have a positive impact on people’s lives and improve health and wellbeing. Our local partners have years of experience in the practical implementation of these approaches. From them we know that the impact for the people they work with is significant:

“It’s made a huge difference to my life, because I am not self-harming anymore, I’m not taking overdoses, and it’s made me feel a lot happier”

- Person living with mental health issues participating in creative group activities, South West Yorkshire.

The Realising the Value programme has taken a whole system view to increase understanding of how the five approaches add value, and of what works to embed and spread them in practice. We’ve developed an economic model for commissioners to help them understand the potential of the approaches to create and provide value. We’ve analysed how the national bodies can best support these approaches. We’ve explored how behavioural insights can help us understand more about the motivation of individuals and the choices they make. And we’ve looked at the values underpinning our health and care system, asking what matters to people.

What’s next?

We have identified ten key actions to help to put people and communities at the heart of health and care: 

What needs to happen

  1. Implement person- and community-centred ways of working across the system, using the best available tools and evidence.
  2. Develop a simplified outcomes framework focused on what matters to people.
  3. Continue to learn by doing, alongside further research.
  4. Make better use of existing levers such as legislation, regulation and accountability.
  5. Trial new outcomes-based payment mechanisms and implement as part of wider national payment reform.

How people need to work differently

  1. Enable health and care professionals and the wider workforce to understand and work in person- and community-centred ways.
  2. Develop strong and sustained networks as an integral part of implementation.
  3. Value the role of people and communities in their health and wellbeing, including through co-production, volunteering and social movements for health.
  4. Make greater use of behavioural insights to increase effectiveness and uptake.
  5. Support a thriving and sustainable voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, working alongside people, families, communities and the health and care system.

You can find out more about these in our final programme report.

To move from intent to action, person- and community-centred ways of working need to become widely understood and valued as core to the whole health and care system, not just a ‘nice to have’. They need to be woven both into the infrastructure of the system and the culture of how things are done. We hope that the ten key actions and the practical resources developed as part of the Realising the Value programme will form an integral part of how a new relationship with people and communities is developed further.

About Realising the Value

Nesta and the Health Foundation have co-led the Realising the Value consortium in an ambitious programme of work over the last 18 months. We have brought together the perspectives of people with lived experience, the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector, practitioners, academics, commissioners, providers and policymakers to consolidate what is known about person- and community-centred approaches for health and wellbeing and make recommendations on how they can have maximum impact. The programme was funded by NHS England, to support the NHS Five Year Forward View vision to enable a ‘new relationship with patients and communities’.



Halima Khan

Halima Khan

Halima Khan

Executive Director, Health, People and Impact

Halima was the Executive Director of the Health, People and Impact. She led Nesta’s work in health and also oversaw people (human resources) and impact for the organisation.

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Will Warburton

Will Warburton is Director of Improvement at the Health Foundation. Will has responsibility for the Health Foundation’s largest share of charitable spend, on programmes and fellowships…