Case study: Local Area Coordination - Derbyshire

Local Area Coordination is an approach to designing and delivering public services which supports people with disabilities, mental health needs, older people, and their families or carers. It is a pro-active and preventative form of support which enables people to build and pursue their own idea of a good life.

Through Local Area Coordination, service users stay strong, safe and connected in communities which are more welcoming, inclusive and supportive. As a result, they can find practical, non-service solutions to problems and generally avoid the use of acute front-line services which are increasingly unaffordable.

The service is provided by Local Area Coordinators who support individuals and their families and are based in their local communities as a local, accessible, single point of contact. Support is personalised, flexible, and responsive – as well as being provided in the day-to-day settings of family and community life.

The Coordinators work with service users in order to help design a series of plans enabling them to live the life they choose to lead. Importantly they take time to listen and get to know individuals, families and communities, helping to build strong and positive relationships.

The Derbyshire branch of the Local Area Coordination Network was set up in 2012. It made up of Derbyshire County Council, the NHS Hardwick Clinical Commissioning Group, and the NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

An SROI (Social Return on Investment) study found that over a three year forecast period the Local Area Coordination would deliver a social return of £4 of value for every £1 invested. This constituted £1.76m worth of inputs and an overall impact of £6.47m through 1,907 Coordinators and the communities they support.

The approach has helped improve the health and wellbeing of residents and build stronger community resilience. Individuals now have a sense of having someone to rely on, experience less social isolation and feel a part of their community. Derby City also managed to make savings of £800k in the first 12 months in 2 locations whilst operating at 40% capacity.

Lessons learned:

  • Local Area Coordination is a viable model of co-production which has proven to be effective at transforming service design and delivery by establishing strong and reciprocal relationships with people with support needs and their families.
  • People with long term health conditions and disabilities are often keen to have more of a role in their own health and wellbeing, but to achieve this the system needs to focus less on services and more on relationships – which could be a change unlocked by devolution.
  • The Social Return on Investment of co-produced services can be substantial.
  • Co-production can help build community resilience by decreasing social isolation, and increasing the health and wellbeing of residents.