How do asset-based areas commission?
- 15 October 2017
- Posted by: Joanne Thomas
- Category: Features
Alex Fox provides a vision of the asset-based area, whether this is a local authority or some other geographical area:
‘An asset-based public body does not have ‘customers’ (whose only responsibility is to pay taxes), rather it views everyone, including people with long term support needs, as citizens, with rights and responsibilities. Rather than ‘providers’, asset-based areas have partners, who share responsibility for system design and the best use of resources. An asset-based area is responsive to need, but always looks for capability and potential. It is confident in the things it can do, and the difference its people’s skills and expertise make, but it has the humility to recognise its limitations, namely to fix people or communities.’
This vision stands the current perceptions of how outcomes are produced and the role that organisations play in doing so, on its head. ‘No customers, only citizens’ recognises that organisations do not produce outcomes, they are coproduced by people, communities and organisations working together. ‘No providers only partners’ reinforces the message that citizen’s play as much, if not a larger role, in producing outcomes as conventional organisational providers. As partners contributing both their own assets and drawing on their lived experience they should have an equal say in both the day to day achievement of outcomes and how this asset-based practice is commissioned.
‘Confidence… humility’ on the part of the asset-based area leads it to recognise that it can and must support the transformation of conventional practice into asset-based by a new model of asset-based commissioning. Both of these require major shifts in mind sets, relationships and decision-making processes that support them. ‘It cannot … fix people and communities’ on its own but can help to do so by working together in a completely different relationship, mind set and decision-making process.
Asset-based practice comprises a portfolio of personal and community level coproduction and self-help designed to enhance the lives of both individuals and whole communities. Examples are: community circles, where trained volunteer facilitators bring together family, friends and neighbours to help individuals with social care needs to identify changes they wish to make in their lives and help achieve them. Social housing providers incentivise tenants to contribute to estate management and maintenance through the use of time credits. Villagers apply to their local council and police for the equipment and training to enable them to operate speed checks to reduce speeding. Health practitioners change their practice to work with patients as equals, drawing on their lived experience as well as practitioner expertise, to improve the management of long term health conditions through enhanced patient self-management.
We believe that commissioning offers a powerful and established vehicle for realising the significant potential of asset-based practice through the transformation of conventional practice into asset-based and the development of new forms of asset-based practice. Furthermore we believe six key features characterise asset based commissioning provide the basis for transforming conventional commissioning so that it can to fully support the development of asset-based practice:
- The focus is on whole life outcomes rather than narrow sector specific ones and the use of all, not just organisational assets. Rather than focusing on deficits and fixing problems, attention shifts to recognising, building on and further developing people and communities as well as organisations. Focusing on whole life and communities prompts rethinking the use of assets to maximise the potential for impacting across a wide set of outcomes.
- Outcomes are perceived to be produced by the combined efforts of people, communities and organisations not just organisations. Instead of slotting people and communities into existing conventional service delivery models the later are re-engineered to make best complementary use of both the assets and expertise of people, communities and practitioners.
- Decision making is exercised by people and communities who have an equal say with practitioners in all commissioning decisions. The lived experience of people and communities is considered on a par with the expertise of practitioners in deciding on how to transform outcomes production and day to day decision making.
- Relationships make best use of the combined expertise of people, communities, service suppliers and commissioning organisations. For example, people and communities become equal co-commissioners with organisations; collaborative approaches to coproduction are supported by alliance contracting; organisational suppliers are an integral part of the commissioning process.
- Commissioning processes are supportive, effective, fast and devolved. For example, there is fully empowered self-directed support, locality based partnerships in which the community is a completely equal co-commissioner and wide area commissioning designed to support effective devolved decision-making.
- There is continual stimulating and reshaping of the actions and assets of people and communities as well as organisations, through for example, asset-based community development, and user-led organisations working with organisational suppliers to fully coproduce outcomes
We believe that all commissioners should ask themselves three questions
- What is the potential value of asset based practice being front and centre of how we commission
- Looking at the six characteristics of asset-based commissioning organisations, to what extent is our approach to commissioning, asset-based?
- Where is the next area for our development?
We would be interested in hearing your experience of moving to asset based commissioning.
Alex Fox. (2017) The Asset-Based Area. Online: Coalition for Collaborative Care, Shared Lives Plus, and Think Local, Act Personal. Available at: https://lnkd.in/g2cfAbx
Field, R. and Miller, C. (2017) Asset-based commissioning; Better Outcomes, Better Value. Bournemouth: Bournemouth University Available at: http://www.ncpqsw.com/publications/asset-based-commissioning/