The introduction of social distancing measures has led to a novel way of holding meetings for many. For Leeds’ Local Care Partnerships (LCPs), virtual meetings held to date have been warmly welcomed and surprisingly well attended, with insights gathered from a broad range of partners.
Meetings are dedicated to enabling the exchange of information, allowing local partners to share what they are doing and how their service offer has changed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, meetings have been held by Cross Gates, Beeston & Middleton, York Road, Woodsley & Holt Park, Seacroft, Otley & Aireborough and Morley, and all LCPs have opted to hold virtual meetings at least once a fortnight. The LCP development team plans to continue to support these meetings for as long as people find them useful.
Hosting multi-disciplinary virtual meetings, including small Third Sector organisations, has not been without its technical challenges, but attendees have consistently found the meetings helpful in understanding what partners are doing, getting a feel for local pressures and making connections where there is scope for more joined up working or capacity to help one another.
Some of the key outcomes and issues that have arisen from the meetings to date are as follows.
- Sharing good practice: one of the most valuable aspects of the virtual meetings has been the opportunity to share details of service and support changes with one another. This has given organisations a greater understanding of the support available to local people, and the ability to share key learnings across LCPs.
- Cross Gates Good Neighbours virtual groups have been connecting members through Zoom social groups, allowing people to maintain social networks through this period of isolation. The LCP development team is working with Forum Central and 100% Digital Leeds to explore how other organisations can be supported to host similar groups for their members.
- Raising issues and shared problem solving: partners are sharing residents’ concerns and local service issues, and in some cases providing offers of support.
- At the Woodsley & Holt Park LCP, OPAL mentioned that they had identified an increase in members reporting falls around their home since social distancing measures were introduced. Leeds Community Healthcare were able to share resources developed by their therapists to support people to reduce fall risk at this time. The LCP development team is seeking resources from Adult Social Care and Public Health to accompany this guidance so that partners can be given a full set of tools and help to share with the people they are supporting.
- Engaging new partners: new partners have joined each of the LCP meetings.
- Third Sector organisations acting as the local hubs for Doing Good Leeds have been able to join meetings in Morley, York Road and Woodsley & Holt Park, while Leeds City Council (LCC) Communities team have engaged with a number of the partnership meetings, bringing additional information and a new perspective. Elected Members have engaged well with the virtual meetings and have brought a different perspective in terms of the issues being raised with them by residents. The meetings have also enabled Councillors to get an insight into the work being undertaken across health and care to keep essential services and support in place in their wards.
- Communication: Updates provided by absent partners are always shared verbally at meetings, and key Leeds-wide messages are being shared by the development team during meetings, for example the change in emergency food provision. Formal minutes have been replaced with an LCP ‘digest’ which combines updates
and links from partners at the meeting with applicable messages picked up from other LCP meetings.
- Progressing LCP priorities: While many meetings have focused on partner updates relevant to the current situation, some LCPs are looking at how they maintain momentum on some work areas they were previously focused on.
- The Seacroft LCP want to finish a group that was formed to develop the Health Foundation bid on asthma management in children and young people. Keeping the working group together means that detail can be worked up should they be successful in reaching the next round. They also want to retain their Design Group which is refining their priority area of mental health, and ensure they are ready to start exploring new ways of working once the current lockdown is lifted.
- Duplication: there is potential for a significant amount of duplication across partners in a given area and the risk of people being contacted with offers of support multiple times. The LCP team has established that the LCC and Third Sector information sharing agreement would allow third sector organisations in an area to link with their local hubs to better co-ordinate activity across these partners.
- Health inequalities and the BAME community: an initial analysis of data from the ‘shielded’ cohort in Leeds suggests that some of the areas with low numbers of people coming forward to ask for help are those with higher numbers of BAME residents. Additional issues raised through LCP meetings are culturally unfamiliar or inappropriate foods in food boxes and lack of established relationship with some of the organisations offering support meaning there are ineffective channels of communication.