Following our last blog looking at the Discovery and consultation processes for our early intervention procedures and preventative services, the final stage of this project is the creation and delivery of the Stockport Support Services. The new Hub brings together a range of support services offering adults and families in Stockport the early advice and support they need to help them live independently and well. The Prevention Alliance (TPA) is one of a range of services commissioned by Stockport Council to deliver early help and prevention in Stockport.
This blog has been written by Julia English, who leads the TPA team that deliver Stockport Support Hub, and Siobhan Myers, who leads one of two ‘Your Support’ teams of Key Workers.
Image: Nikki Donlan, Keyworker, Stockport Support Hub
New Stockport Support Hub website
Investment in the new Stockport Support Hub website has been a key part of this innovative partnership.
It provides a simple online referral form which enables people to access support offers at a time that is convenient to them. (Those who do not have digital access can contact the Support Hub on 0161 474 1042.)
Our new Support Hub triages referrals for all early help and prevention services commissioned by Stockport Council. This new approach helps people to reach the right support at the right time. Our Hub team receive referrals for a range of services including:
- Carers Support – Supporting you if you care for someone that would struggle to manage without you because of illness, disability, frailty, a long-term condition (including mental illness or dementia) or addiction.
- Community Support – Connecting you and your family to community activities, groups, peer support, learning and volunteering opportunities, and providing support to develop community activities.
- Domestic Abuse Support -Supporting you if you are affected by domestic abuse.
- Home Support – Providing practical support to help you maintain your home environment and live safely and independently in your own home. A specialist hoarding service is also available.
- Transport Support – Providing transport if you are struggling to get to appointments and activities or struggling to use public transport.
- Your Support – Providing one to one support to help you make changes to improve your health and wellbeing and build your confidence. Siobhan talks more about this later.
The Hub team have extensive experience in providing information, advice and assisted signposting. Most have been with the TPA for many years and during this time have built great working relationships and networks with professionals and organisations in Stockport. They have a vast knowledge of local services and ensure people are directed to appropriate offers.
If people are unclear about which service is right for them, or require multiple services, our team contact them so we can fully understand their situation and help them to reach the right resources.
We provide people with immediate information and advice on a range of offers to support their wellbeing and regularly issue food vouchers and send direct referrals to appropriate services. The team are extremely passionate about supporting people and this is reflected in the positive feedback we receive. We are proud to be part of a service which is free to adults who are experiencing difficult times. We feel we make a real difference to people’s lives and can be there for those who may not have anyone else to turn to.
The website is built to be fully responsive and accessible to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 which ensures the content is accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility involves a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities.
We are continuing to develop the website to include useful resources and case studies that bring to life the support offers available through the Support Hub partners.
We are part of the DigiKnow movement
A key aspect of supporting people to be independent is ensuring they are digitally included. We are passionate about enabling people to access digital tools to extend the options and opportunities available to them.
Our Key Workers support people over the phone to improve their digital skills. We regularly use video calls and WhatsApp as part of our blended approach of face to face and digital support sessions. Virtual support sessions are a convenient way for people to engage and fit around people’s busy lives. If a person does not have access to a device, or cannot afford data, we will refer them to other Digiknow partners who can provide access to data and devices.
Digital tools are key to our support offer:
- Digital support sessions delivered through our Deaf Drop-In have proved popular, enabling flexibility for the Deaf community to attend in person or virtually. Our work with the Deaf community is often digital-based, using a variety of digital platforms, such as Sign Health, to enable people to access appointments and information. We regularly help people to download Sign Health to their phones.
- Digital skills play a crucial role in helping people to live more independently, and we help people to access digital tools that many of us take for granted. That might be setting up online shopping for someone struggling with mobility, completing online forms, using banking apps confidently, or managing benefit claims or energy bills online.
- We signpost people to a range of apps to support their wellbeing, for example, #StayAlive (a suicide prevention app to help people stay safe in a crisis) or TogetherAll (an online community to support each other with mental health and wellbeing).
The TPA is a unique partnership of not-for-profit organisations who work together to improve health and wellbeing in Stockport:
- Age UKS
- Jigsaw Support (part of the Jigsaw Homes Group)
- SKylight (part of the Stockport Homes Group)
- Talk, Listen, Change (TLC)
Our teams are passionate about working with people to recognise their strengths and make positive changes. Many of our Key Workers have been with us since the start and have exceptional knowledge of the communities we serve and local support offers.
When people feel overwhelmed and require short-term support and guidance to improve their wellbeing, they are referred to Your Support. We provide a dedicated Key Worker who will work with the person for up to six months. We focus on working on what matters to the person, helping them to build confidence, increase their independence and achieve positive changes in their life.
We do this by working with the person to identify their strengths and goals. We are person-centred – each person is unique and what works for one person doesn’t for another. We talk with the person, and together we develop a plan to achieve what is important to them. Sometimes, a quick fix is all the person needs, but often people need us for a bit longer, and we can coordinate a multi-agency response to ensure the right support is in place.
We like to meet people face-to-face to introduce ourselves; we also offer ongoing support through a combination of face-to-face, phone or video call contacts. Having said this, some people feel nervous about meeting their Key Worker for the first time, so we can build their confidence over the course of a few phone calls if they prefer. Chatting over e-mail or WhatsApp at the start is more comfortable for some people.
We ask people to complete a questionnaire called SWEMWBS (a short version of the Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale) at the start, midpoint and end of their journey with us. This consists of seven short questions that help us gauge how a person feels and whether the support we provide is working for them.
Feedback and lived experience are incredibly important to us, and we complete surveys at the end of our one-to-one work to understand what we are doing well and where we can improve. We always reflect on feedback and do things differently to improve where we can. When we are due to finish working with a person, we refer them to Community Support (Pure Innovations), so they can continue to build on their confidence and skills and develop networks of support in their community.
Benefits of the new Hub
Last year’s Discovery identified gaps in service provision and some duplication of services, leading to confusion amongst referrers. Understanding the gaps, what was working well, and the frustrations some users were experiencing led directly to creating the new website and prevention offer.
The new commissioning arrangements, which went live in April 2022, have already significantly reduced duplication. It’s a much clearer system for professionals as they can make one referral to the Support Hub, and we do the rest! Prior to the Support Hub, a professional might make a referral to the TPA along with other agencies. This meant that early help and prevention services were receiving duplicated requests for support, resulting in longer waiting times for one-to-one support.
With the new website in place, anyone can make a referral using our online form and self-referrals have increased. It’s good to see referrals made directly by the person who needs support, as it means that people can find us and feel comfortable reaching out to us.
The strong emphasis on early help and prevention means we can reach many more people than before. From the launch in April to June 2022 the Hub has triaged 1,394 referrals and Your Support have received 470 referrals.
It is still early days, but we are pleased that the single point of access of the Support Hub website, along with the strong partnership arrangements across early help and prevention services, are helping people to receive the right support, when they need it. We have regular meetings with the Adult Social Care team to discuss what’s working well and address any challenges we are experiencing.
Our experience of the design process and working with Commissioners and partners to implement our new service offer has been extremely positive. All partners have embraced the changes and carried on doing what they do best – helping the community to be happy and healthy. We are looking forward to seeing how the service evolves over the course of the new contract and the possibilities of new projects. It’s an exciting time for Stockport, and we are very proud to be part of it.