It might now be considered trite to say it, but people are the lifeblood of any service. No matter the sector or subject, the system or the team – the driving force is the people who work in it and the people who use it.
This is why the publication of Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH)’s new document ‘Assets based approaches in service settings’ is so welcome. Taking an asset-based approach to services means focussing on the potential of people who use them – not what is “wrong” with them or what needs to be “fixed”. By recognising and making the most of people’s strengths we can promote the factors that support good health and wellbeing. This requires an understanding that addressing complex issues needs much more involvement of the people who are at the centre of those issues – rather than being viewed as things that can be “sorted out” by professionals alone.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the launch of the new report and one thing struck me – the significant overlap between the vision in GCPH’s document and that championed in the Health and Social Care Academy’s Five Provocations for the Future of Health and Social Care. Leadership, humanity and cultural change are terms used throughout, which suggests that asset-based approaches are one key mechanism through which transformation can be delivered.
GCPH have made it clear that it is possible to design and focus delivery and practice towards assets, rather than deficits – even despite the many constraints placed on public services. Their new publication identifies examples such as Primary Care Learning Disability Local Area Co-ordinators, the Bridging employability service and Healthy Mind, a project designed to support access to online information and resources, as practical examples of asset-based approaches to the delivery of health and social care.
All progressive steps – but remain ‘far from the way we do things’. The rhetoric around asset-based approaches has yet to reach reality in a manner which could be described as significant. The Scottish Government has long been committed to the delivery of these approaches and, as GCPH note, this is informing and influencing the planning and delivery of some services. But as always we need to move comprehensively and quickly beyond rhetoric and to the practical application and incentivising of approaches which encourage people to flourish.
After all, the need to work differently is ever more pressing.
Assistant Director (Policy and Communications)
Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)