It’s great when things come together ….especially when different groups start to value the expertise of others and start working together constructively. But why is this so hard to achieve?

We have been bringing groups together from public, private and VCSE sectors for years, we have had some great successes but I wish we could have done more. There is scope for much wider impact and efficiencies to be achieved through cross sector working.

The opportunity is there. Everyone is talking about partnership working, collaboration – it’s been the in thing for a while, but getting people to actually do it is a whole different matter.

For over six years now we have been working with health and social care organisations. At first it was scary, it was not what we were used to. We were entering very different worlds, with their own language, culture, structures and regulations. But then we started to join things up and we started to ask questions:

  • Why haven’t the SME care organisations accessed business support services?
  • Why don’t the care organisation engage more with NHS organisations?
  • When Social Care is a growth sector why do they not get the recognition that other sectors do?
  • Why are care organisations not allowed to be entrepreneurial?
  • Given the significant number of jobs created in social care why do we not support the sector more?

There are some big issues that have come out of these questions and being independent, working across the sectors we can be impartial – ask the important, sometimes obvious, sometimes difficult questions and bring the right people together. That’s all it takes, but then that’s just the start…..

We have many examples from our work with care providers but the common factor is that, in order for cross sector working to be successful, all parties need to recognise and value the skills, expertise and insight that other sectors bring. Care providers are often the ones who see the impact of decisions made higher up the chain, the first to spot trends developing. Working with care providers they have loads of ideas of how things could be improved, but what they lack is somewhere to take their ideas, where they can be recognised. In a highly regulated industry they need the permission and support to be entrepreneurial – otherwise more and more opportunities to improve services will be lost.

One recent example of this is how we have helped and supported the local SME Domiciliary care providers to get involved with Liverpool CCG on the implementation of Healthy Liverpool. Although the providers are contracted by the Local Authority they have a wealth of first hand experience in seeing how people can be supported in their homes and the practicalities of helping keep people out of hospital – all valuable insights for NHS organisations. So they are now taking an active part in the development of Healthy Liverpool, working with both NHS organisations and Local Authority. We are continuing to help the SME care providers to take an active role in the local economy, after all it’s a growth industry, jobs and skills are key to support this sector and will have a massive impact on the local economy.

At a recent event an NHS employee said … “we have moved on from working in silos ..it’s more like we work in our own bubbles….we can see what others are doing but we can’t join up…what we need is someone to come along with pin and join the bubbles together.” Perhaps the pin is someone asking the right questions…..

So let’s recognise and value what other groups can bring, what could be achieved through cross sector working….. let’s work together rather than working in our own bubbles… If you want someone to ask those difficult questions, feel free to get in touch. All sectors are welcome…… we would love to hear your views.