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Key points

Person- and community-centred approaches for health and wellbeing have significant potential to improve outcomes for individuals, support the development of strong and resilient communities and, over time, help reduce demand on formal health and social care services. There is evidence from both research and practice to demonstrate the benefits of person- and community-centred approaches, across three dimensions of value:

  • Mental and physical health and wellbeing: Person- and community-centred approaches have been shown to increase people’s self-efficacy and confidence to manage their health and care, improve health outcomes and experience, to reduce social isolation and loneliness, and build community capacity and resilience, among other outcomes.
  • NHS sustainability: These approaches can impact how people use health and care services and can lead to reduced demand on services, such as emergency admissions and A&E visits.
  • Wider social outcomes: Person- and community-centred approaches can lead to a wide range of social outcomes, from improving employment prospects and school attendance to increasing volunteering. They also can potentially contribute to reducing health inequalities for individuals and communities.

In this report, Nesta and the Health Foundation are strengthening the case for people taking an active role in their health and care. We are identifying evidence-based approaches that engage people and communities, and developing tools to support implementation across the NHS and local communities.

This report explores the value of people and communities at the heart of health, in support of the NHS Five Year Forward View vision to develop a new relationship with people and communities. It brings together a wide range of person- and community-centred approaches for health and wellbeing. It provides an overview of the existing evidence base with a particular focus on the potential benefits of adopting person- and community-centred approaches. It also describes where there are gaps in the evidence and where we need to know more.

We intend the report to be a practical resource to support the work of commissioners, providers, communities and others seeking to find ways to empower individuals and communities in their health and care. In addition, we hope that it will help commissioners, policymakers and practitioners to understand the range of approaches available, some of the key components and their potential to improve health and wellbeing outcomes, NHS sustainability and social value.

Alongside the main report, we have also published two annexes produced by the Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University: a scoping review of the evidence base and evidence summaries for five shortlisted approaches. These are also available on the Nesta website.

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