Working with your community

A female social care worker or volunteer with a female who needs care and support

We know that local communities and neighbourhoods play an important role in people’s lives – and that’s no different for people who need care and support.

Community skills development looks at how you can help and empower local people to understand how their skills and knowledge can be enhanced and shared to improve the wellbeing of others in their communities.

Over the last six years we’ve worked in partnership with local communities, employers and commissioners to explore the skills that exist in the community and how these can and do complement the provision of services to people who need care and support.

We have a range of resources including case studies which demonstrate the learning we’ve found, and practical tools to help you embed community skills development.

Our Only a footstep away report outlines the benefits to social care of developing skills within the community.

15 test sites explored community skills development which included:

  • working with small residents associations to map the skills that exist within their local community and share them informally
  • working with statutory organisations to link ‘time banks’ and  ‘skills banks’
  • finding out from those offering informal community support, what made it effective and how it was valued.

This was followed by an independent evaluation to identify the learning from these sites.

Engaging and Empowering Communities: a shared commitment and call to action

In November 2016 we co-authored Engaging and Empowering Communities: a shared commitment and call to action - a shared commitment from national bodies to work together to ensure that engaging and empowering communities is central to the radical redesign of services across health, social care and other sectors to improve health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities.

The skills around the person approach is not only that person-centred approaches are vital in ensuring care and support meets individual needs and preferences, but also that everyone has their own skills, knowledge, experience and attributes which they bring with them.

We ran a programme to explore how such skills might be enhanced and supported to maximise people’s independence and improve quality of life.

We supported 24 projects in testing this approach then published an independent evaluation about their experience and achievements.

Download the Skills around the person evaluation report

We’ve produced resources that show how community skills development can support and enhance the experience of different people. These resources can help you if you:

We’ve produced a guide that brings together useful resources in supporting community capacity building. They are grouped under five key themes:

  • improved health and wellbeing
  • a way of living (and dying) that works for, and with, everyone
  • commissioning with/for communities - market place development
  • rethink leadership, learning, personal and professional development
  • recruiting and retaining a local community workforce.

Download the workforce resources to support community capacity building

We’ve developed a guide for social care commissioners to help them understand more about the role of informal community support and how it can be used in the commissioning process.

This guide is designed to encourage you to value the skills that exist in communities, to realise the value of those skills and to maximise the potential of community groups.

It explains the benefits of community skills development and sets out additional guidance and offers practical ways for you to make the most of existing skills within a community and what can be done to enhance these.

Commissioning guide 

We worked in partnership with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) to support the Volunteering in Care Homes Project.

We co-produced the initial induction training for volunteers aimed at supporting organisations to engage volunteers into their service. You can use these resources to complement your existing induction materials for volunteers. 

If the volunteer is expected to undertake the same care duties as any other care worker, then the employer should go beyond this basic induction and ensure that their training meets the expectations of the Care Certificate.

The below resources can help you to engage your volunteers in your service in the best way.

A ZIP folder of all the induction resources is available.

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