The Prevention and Avoidance Community Team (PACT), led and supported by Adults Supporting Adults, aims to get vulnerable adults back home from hospital as quickly and safely as possible. Hundreds of people have already been helped to return home after a visit to A&E instead of being admitted to a hospital ward.
PACT’s success has come through public and third sector managers collaborating across their organisational boundaries. The service was commissioned from Adults Supporting Adults in partnership with Age UK Lincoln and LACE Housing Association, by Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. The project is saving Lincoln County Hospital around £48,000 inward costs per month and there are plans to expand the network to encompass East Midlands Ambulance Service, Grantham Hospital, Boston Hospital and Louth Hospital.
Trixie Bennett, Chief Executive of Adults Supporting Adults, explained that “rather than have people pushed around between lots of different organisations it was an opportunity for someone to come to one place and be signposted to people who could support them”. The chief executives of the three charities exemplified the collaborative culture, spending time in each other’s organisations and explaining their values and ways of working: “Each of the chief executives have made ourselves known to the other organisations and we have shared our expertise around.”
Bennett says the managers in the partner organisations are highly effective leaders, able to work across organisational boundaries as well as spot and develop talent: “They are managers who are able to identify people of quality, good negotiators and people with vision.” The culture is open and engaging: “Communication skills are the basis to everything we do.” When recruiting staff, they start with values and creativity: “We can teach people the job but we can’t give them the right values. Values will always be the centre of what we look for. [Then] we look for people with passion who can look creatively at the issues – problem-solving in a way that puts [the client] at the centre of everything.”
Bennett sees the growing openness of the public sector to collaboration as “a refreshing change”.
“I [have] worked in the public sector for 25 years. The difference then was that there were so many obstacles you had to jump. I think the change in the public sector, including looking at procurement and commissioning in a different way, has led them to realise there is creativity in the third sector which can add value to everything they are looking for but can also deliver the efficiencies.”