Altogether Better was established in 2008 and since then has developed an award-winning model that has engaged over 18,000 volunteers as community health champions who have in turn reached over 104,000 others. Academic evaluation of our work has demonstrated effectiveness in supporting positive behaviour change, improving health, more appropriate use of health care services and decreasing hospital admissions.
Working within the principles of co-production, Altogether Better brings citizens and services together to:
- Achieve better outcomes
- Transform relationships
- Create capacity
- Find different ways to meet increasing demand within limited resources
We support citizens:
- To build their knowledge, resilience and confidence to achieve their potential
- To become engaged, involved and active citizens
We support communities:
- To share their skills and expertise, improving their own health and the health of others
- To become stronger and more resilient
We help organisations and services:
- To create the conditions for new and productive relationships with patients and people in communities.
- To learn and develop new forms of governance and new types of partnerships
Following success delivering our lottery-funded Community Health Champions programme and learning from prototyping work in the Right Conversation Project, which created a new, participatory relationship between citizens and services, we are implementing our evidence-based approach in primary care, A&E and other clinical and community settings, engaging, training and supporting individuals from the community to become volunteer Health Champions that devise and deliver non-medical groups and activities and provide peer support for patients.
We have compelling evidence that Champions influence change on multiple levels: alongside building their own knowledge, skills and understanding they share learning with patients, resulting in better self-management of health, increased engagement and less reliance on services. Our ‘Communities of Practice’ bring together Champions and services and it is in these conversations that citizens participate and influence in an unprecedented way. Being from the community and volunteering within services, they transfer knowledge into the system and increase the intelligence held by services of community issues and assets, identifying opportunities for redesign that services are receptive to because they know and trust our Champions.
We are now working with increasing numbers of GPs, CCGs and NHS Trusts and are generating significant interest from others who recognise that our participatory approach can simultaneously increase positive health and wellbeing in communities and create capacity within services facing escalating demand and finite resources.