Writing in the Healthy Lifestyle (HLS) sector in recent months, a few common themes have cropped up regarding what the Commissioner is looking for from providers. In recent years there has been a general movement in the sector towards more integrated whole-system approaches, this has been reflected in recent HLS bids. Below is a summary outlining the notable themes across these bids.
1. Community Approaches
Commissioners want a localised feel from providers. They want to understand that you tangibly know the area, not just by stating local statistics but through demonstrating evidence of local partnerships and knowledge of community locations. There’s a sense that they want services that can integrate into the fabric of their local communities, listen to local voices, and become a part of their wider healthcare landscape. Ultimately, moving away from solely medical provision models to more personalised, flexible programmes that enhance community engagement and reflect the needs of individual families, supporting them in their journey to healthier lifestyles.
2. Proportionate Universalism
Proportionate universalism is the delivery of universal services at a scale and intensity proportionate to the degree of need. This is a reoccurring buzzword appearing in HLS service specifications and involves responding to the presenting level of need, effectively utilising existing community resources first. Therefore, creating a universally available service for all community members. It is clear there has been a movement away from medicalised service provision models, with Commissioners wanting services informed by proportionate universalism principles to address need.
3. Reducing Health Inequalities
With HLS services, it is vital to demonstrate an understanding of target/ priority groups in the service area and the barriers to accessing services. Intricate knowledge and understanding of local inequalities are necessary to running successful HLS services. It is important for providers to demonstrate they understand how unhealthy behaviours cluster together to create multiple risk factors for unhealthy lifestyles.
For example, Commissioners are keen to see providers understand the causes of poor health in their locality, not just how to treat the problem. Understanding social conditions as fundamental causes of disease is imperative to reducing health inequalities. For example, providing a service that understands health behaviours are governed by place and situated within social structures ensures the service addresses the root cause of the problem. Consequently, giving service users the tools they need to sustain healthy behaviour changes overtime. This is particularly relevant to acknowledging the complex behavioural and psychological factors that combine with social and economic influences to create weight management issues. Behaviour change interventions do not work when applied as a ‘one-size fits all’ approach on a large scale, it is clear that Commissioners prefer tailored interventions.
4. Opportunities for Co-production
A key part of establishing a reputation as a trusted provider is building links between local services and co-producing cross-referral pathways and other co-production opportunities with relevant local services. Commissioners increasingly value HLS services that create strong partnerships with wider health teams, ensuring service users are fully supported and triaged into the correct service for their needs.
5. Integrated Services
HLS services delivered with the wider local healthcare system in mind are increasingly popular with Commissioners. Innovative services that establish and facilitate clear referral pathways between health services and multidisciplinary teams are key to providing holistic wrap-around care for service users. This is very appealing to Commissioners. Increased integration guarantees increased communication across local healthcare systems, enhancing referral pathways and providing tailored healthy lifestyle interventions for local people.
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