Poor health is a problem for many families and that is why, in Hampshire, we have created a dedicated health lead for Hampshire’s 'Supporting Families Programme.'
My role is jointly funded by the Hampshire’s 5 clinical commissioning groups and the county council and was created because the partners wanted to secure engagement between early-help and health.
As the health lead, I take a two-pronged approach and engage health partners at both a strategic/commissioning level and at an operational level.
The breadth of health partners I am engaging and talking to include GPs, primary care, Hampshire County Council commissioned mental health teams/services, public health teams, substance misuse teams, school nursing, health visitors, and also third sector and charity providers.
By making local health teams aware of the early help offer for families in Hampshire, I can then help them design and commission better services for families.
For example, I was recently asked by public health to be part of the panel reviewing tenders for the provision of comprehensive substance misuse services including adults, young people, and pharmacy-based drug treatment services. By being part of the panel, I will ensure the family approach is embedded into the service and that the whole family’s needs are met holistically.
We think there will be real benefits from making sure health is fully engaged with the early help programme – and I am contributing to Solent Southampton University’s independent evaluation of Hampshire’s programme by identifying the direct impacts on health budgets and resources.
We would be very interested in hearing from any areas that have done anything similar to what we're doing in Hampshire. Please leave a comment below, or email me.
Julia Dixon, Hampshire Supporting Troubled Families Health Lead
Julia Dixon has a background in health and social care organisations, working predominately with vulnerable young people and adults. She has also worked in all aspects of the criminal justice system, including youth offending, prison and probation services.