A pilot programme run in Devon and Cornwall designed to help unemployed people manage and overcome health and wellbeing issues and get back to work has proved a success.
Unemployed people on a job scheme presenting with disabilities or health conditions took part in the pilot scheme, which worked more closely with partner heath organisations and focused more on health management and progression than solely finding work.
Evaluation of the pilot showed that people helped in this way were almost twice as likely to find suitable, sustainable work compared to customers whose wellbeing and employment journeys were not integrated.
The pilot was run by employability, skills and offender rehabilitation provider Working Links as part of its delivery of the government’s Work Programme in the South West after witnessing a significant shift in caseload dynamics.
Working Links introduced an integrated health and wellbeing delivery model to enhance its services to the majority of people coming through its doors – people with health conditions, disabilities and complex issues.
The organisation has recruited health professionals such as dietitians, psychologists, physiotherapists, and occupational health experts to cope with demand for wellbeing services among its caseload.
The pilot, led by health and wellbeing facilitators Tammy Stone and Laura Cotton, went beyond simply referring people to external health providers for treatment or advice. It integrated health partners into the organisation’s employability model, with partners delivering tailored group and individual support sessions within Working Links.
Integrated partners include Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), Outlook South West which supports people with depression and anxiety, Livewell South West delivering health-focused interventions and drug and alcohol charity Addaction.
Embedding these services, Working Links has been able to enhance confidence, build assertiveness, and help manage work-life balance amongst its customers, as well as shape perceptions around health issues.
Weekly sessions helped to keep up momentum and customer progression, with almost 90% of participants saying they felt closer to returning to work following the sessions. What’s more, 97% said they felt they were in a better position to manage their health and wellbeing more effectively.
The pilot was launched in 2016, supporting more than 330 people across Devon and Cornwall with their journeys compared to a control group with the same characteristics. Results showed there have so far been almost twice as many job entries within the health and wellbeing group compared to the control group – 79 compared to 44.
“We found that sometimes a gap existed between health services and employment providers in terms of integrated health and employment actions. This pilot has been successful in ‘bridging’ that gap so customers are able to receive the specialist, tailored health support they need but also maintaining work-focused momentum. Promoting work as a key part of our health management and wellbeing has been instrumental to the success.”
Working Links is building on the success of the pilot, integrating health practitioners into its new employability programmes and in its bids for the Work and Health Programme.
To find out more about how Working Links supports communities, call 0800 917 9262 or visit www.workinglinks.co.uk