On this page you will find all the latest feedback from surveys which have been sent out via the Community of Learning (CoL). To sign up to the CoL and see future surveys click here.
Community of Learning Survey on Whole Systems Working
Thank you to everyone who responded to our survey with details of their work towards creating whole systems approaches. This was very helpful to us in identifying some of the learning so far from this country.
The objective was to gain a greater understanding of what it will take to create a whole systems approach, so that this can be used to inform the route map, including possible solutions. It has proved very useful in this respect as it does suggest that the route map should recognise the vital importance of, and the challenges associated with, partnership building and working, but also how systems thinking and a whole systems approach can transcend this by bringing in additional elements and dimensions.
Most of the responses came from Local Authorities, and all of the networks included public health. There were some differences in the range of partners engaged, depending on the focus of the programme. Programmes were evenly split between those with a specific budget and those without. Most were of the view that the new way of working offered advantages over previous approaches, with the majority assessing this as “much more” beneficial.
Feedback from Local Authorities about Future Engagement with the Programme
Thank you to all those who responded to our survey for Local Authorities – we gained a lot of useful information and plan to take forward a range of actions over the next few months.
As background, in December 2015, the four Pilot Local Authorities (LAs) for this programme were selected. Whilst the programme will focus on working with these four, we are keen to engage a wide range of LAs in order to gauge their views, understand their priorities and test emerging findings and materials.
In February 2016, we invited LAs to let us know what support they would like to have on whole systems approaches, including through what mechanisms they would like to be involved (including details of their existing networks so we could avoid duplication) and to identify any issues that they would like to discuss with LA colleagues. This is only one of the approaches are using to gain perspectives from LAs and other stakeholders, but it is an important first step.
We received 41 responses from 37 LAs, including 11 that did not originally put in an expression of interest to be pilots for the Whole Systems Programme. The key feedback is that:
- LAs would welcome a range of material about creating whole systems approaches
- There are a range of issues about which LAs would like further discussion. Colleagues are particularly interested in discussing issues and sharing updates, and new material about what really works on:
- Prioritisation and securing value
- Partnership building including securing buy-in from wider stakeholders (particularly when there is not coterminosity, for instance with Clinical Commissioning Groups, and where there are two-tiers of local authority)
- Embedding collaboration between planning and public health in practice
- Promoting healthier eating and tackling the wider food environment
- Engaging with local communities
- This feedback fits well with the key elements of the Programme and we will be using it to develop materials and prioritise events and on-line discussions including:
- Creating a set of draft materials to be launched in October 2016 – these will present the work so far and be available for all LAs to use to test out and provide feedback, so that the finalised version can be produced for September 2018.
- Practical events and workshops, including exploring how these might be delivered on-line and through webinars. This is likely to take time to set up, first to ensure that it is does not duplicate pre-existing events and networks, and also to ensure that colleagues are able to access new information and evidence-based suggestions
- Newsletters and updates were a popular suggestion: we will consider increasing the number of these as a result
- On themes, there were very many suggestions and we will give further thought to which ones to prioritise and how best to achieve this
- On networks, as well as continuing to use regional networks, we would like to ask interested LAs to share updates more widely through their other networks.
- We will consider how we can take up the kind offers of colleagues interested in sharing case studies or giving presentations
Feedback from Community of Learning on Enablers and Barriers
Through the Community of Learning (COL) we sought views on what are the opportunities, enablers and barriers (if any) to creating whole systems approaches to tackling obesity. We would like to thank everyone who responded. We received 124 detailed responses from a wide variety of colleagues, including those from LAs, NHS providers, third sector bodies and a number from schools. We will use this along with other feedback from LAs and others to inform our action plan.
Key points and next steps
- As barriers, colleagues identified lack of time, the difficulty of engaging wider partners in the obesity agenda, and the challenges of creating a truly joined up approach
- Several also commented on the fact that the long-term nature of actions required to make in-roads into obesity made it more difficult to get it prioritized
- 20 people added a number of additional comments, many expanding on the themes above – the following were typical:
- The importance of really making obesity a priority, including making time, effectively engaging with colleagues in other sectors
- The long-term nature of tackling obesity, when many planning cycles operate on much shorter timescales
- Issues about leadership and engaging wider partners, particularly where systems thinking is relatively new. The importance of ensuring that everyone’s efforts are genuinely all focused in a single, agreed direction and not at cross purposes with other agendas
- Avoiding categorising prevention as being for public health and the NHS being solely about treatment
- Ensuring that all sectors are involved – not just health
- Making the case – demonstrating the return on investment
- Attitudes to/lack of understanding of obesity are still holding back progress
Practical events and workshops were the most popular request (77%), with other ways of sharing good practice and experience also high on the list (51%). Briefings on whole systems working were also very popular (75%).
In terms of what would help to overcome barriers in the longer term, the most popular response was a step-by-step process for creating a whole systems approach (75%) and sharing the evidence base about the benefits of whole systems working (62%). Practical events and workshops were also commonly mentioned (58%). 56% of colleagues mentioned that commitment from partners and greater fit between different but related strategies (50%) were also key.
Colleagues are keen to see evidence of what works so that they can use this in making the case to partners locally, and to ensure that the money that is spent on obesity really does reflect the evidence about what is most likely to work.
A number commented on the importance of tackling the wider obesogenic environment including the food industry, and the importance of joined up working at national Government level.
A number of colleagues talked about their own work and their experiences of creating whole systems approaches and were keen to find out more about what was most likely to work. In terms of issues that respondents would like to discuss with others, key themes included:
- Making the case for investment
- Building the evidence base and sharing it – many people stressed “we need more information about what does work”
- How to engage communities