DDN Magazine July 2023 DDN July_2023 | Page 11

more people going through that supported accommodation pathway is testament to the fact that service users are feeling happy , feeling supported .’ To ensure that clients were aware they ’ d ‘ still be receiving the same level of service under the Connect Wiltshire umbrella , we sent out information via email , letters , leaflets as well as speaking to clients face-to-face and updating our stakeholders in strategic meetings ,’ adds Roberts .
‘ We haven ’ t removed a service , we ’ re creating a more inclusive service for everyone – a new service based on real need .’
Julian House – while previously there were voids , since the organisation has been a sub-contractor for Turning Point ‘ we ’ ve been full , which is phenomenal . It just shows that developing those relationships has really paid off .’
Although it ’ s still early days for the service itself , what ’ s in place is the result of an intense 18-month period of work and planning . Aside from the usual processes and legalities of a project like this , it was also about ‘ collating evidence , hearing
from service users about what ’ s working , what isn ’ t , how we can improve local delivery ,’ Fry stresses . ‘ We co-produced specifications , so while public health are the lead commissioner we co-commission it alongside the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner ( OPCC ) and we also sought support from internal services ’ including children ’ s services , adult social care and housing . So it really did feel very collaborative .’
OUTREACH Wiltshire is a rural county , making travel to community hubs difficult for some people – how much of an influence did this have on shaping the service ? ‘ It ’ s something that we ’ re really mindful of ,’ says Fry . Money from the supplementary substance misuse grant and rough sleeper drug and alcohol treatment grant enabled the service to provide outreach buses , and Connect is also looking at much more collaborative working with GPs . This additional funding for rough sleepers ‘ enables us to have a team of people that are able to go out and access a different cohort of clients that may struggle to access treatment ’, says Roberts . ‘ We ’ re able to take treatment to them .’
CRIMINAL JUSTICE There ’ s also a strong criminal justice element to the service , with workers funded through the supplementary substance misuse treatment and recovery grant . ‘ We also have the money through from the OPCC so we ’ ve got really good continuity of care
from the prisons – we really hone in on that pathway ,’ says Fry .
A clear outcomes framework has been developed for the joint combating drugs partnership , meanwhile , as ‘ it ’ s an area that touches on so many different organisations as well as our lead providers – it ’ s about what data can you bring ,’ Fry continues . ‘ What ’ s happening with county lines , drug arrests , A & E admissions – are those pathways working ? We ’ re very data-driven , and everything ’ s shared at the combating drugs partnerships so we ’ re clear about whether we ’ re doing well or if we have to potentially support to improve that performance – or just hold partners to account .’
Peer mentors and service user reps also attend the joint combating drugs partnership meetings , while commissioners attend the service user council , so there ’ s constant feedback . ‘ The service users are very frank , they ’ re very open – if it ’ s not working they ’ ll say ,’ she states .
SERVICE LEVELS While there were some initial worries around what would change and if people would keep the same keyworker , the service was determined to communicate clearly from the start . ‘ What we didn ’ t want to do was start losing people from treatment ,’ says Fry . ‘ It ’ s just having that continuity and discussions with service users and staff and partner agencies . The feedback is we ’ re getting more referrals from the 18-25s which we really wanted to see , and just the fact that we ’ ve got
ONE HOLISTIC MODEL So in the time since the Carol Black report said that partnerships were deteriorating , is there a sense that things are improving on a national level ? ‘ I think so ,’ Fry says . ‘ There ’ s a lot more governance , a lot more scrutiny , a lot more accountability now . There are national commissioners ’ calls , regional commissioner meetings , SRA ( senior responsible officer ) meetings and more to share learning . A great deal has been put into it .’
And when it comes to lessons learned , what advice would she have for other areas trying to do similar things ? ‘ I think the lead-in time is really important , but now it ’ s about making sure that we have that life-course approach and one joined up , holistic model . I think that takes time to embed , and it can be a culture change from the way partners may have worked in the past . For example , we ’ re now calling them Connect rather than Turning Point and DHI . So while you ’ re employed by that agency , the service is called Connect . They ’ re their own providers with their own cultures , but for us it was about joining up so we really did create that ethos of that one service approach . It ’ s about letting people we know that we haven ’ t removed a service , we ’ re creating a more inclusive service for everyone – a new service based on real need .’ DDN
This series has been produced with support from an educational grant provided by Camurus , which has not influenced the content in any way .