The practical resource to link individuals to existing services and to broker engagement from local agencies
Partnership, coproduction and vision
Consistency in selecting a caseload
Coordination for clients and services
Flexible responses from services
Service improvement and workforce development
Measurement of success
Sustainability and systems change
A successful MEAM Approach area will:
Recognise that coordination is about providing hands-on support that can help people facing multiple disadvantage engage with and navigate systems and services. Successful coordination also requires flexibility from local services (see next element) and these aspects should be developed in tandem.
Explore the different ways in which coordination can be provided. Research often points to the importance of a single, consistent and trusted point of contact for the individual being supported. This may sit independently, within existing services, or as part of a multi-disciplinary team. Another approach is for the coordination to be shared amongst “lead workers” identified within the partnership, or a combination of both models.
Recognise that regardless of the model chosen, successful coordination requires those leading on it to:
Have the right skills and values. Coordinators need to understand the whole system, be highly respected by clients and services, and be able to operate at the individual and strategic level. They must be passionate about improving support for people experiencing multiple disadvantage and remain positive about creating change.
Have a clear cross-sector mandate from the partnership to be ‘service neutral’ and to work outside single organisational boundaries (“a remit to have no remit”). Without this, a coordinator’s work will quickly sink back into organisational silos. Coordinators should report directly to the partnership and neither individuals nor agencies should associate coordinators with any existing service.
Take a creative, open-minded approach to engaging with individuals, recognising and building on people’s strengths and not their problems. Coordinators should work in a trauma-informed way, with a good understanding of how trauma and abuse may have impacted on people’s lives and how it affects their current behaviours.
Have the ability to follow individuals across their journey, regardless of changes in tenancy or periods of hospitalisation or imprisonment. Individuals should not be removed from the caseload based on small-scale improvements.
Have the seniority and confidence to request flexible responses from local agencies, with clear lines to managers and commissioners.
Understand that the work is about changing systems and not just providing support. A coordinator role is much more than just a support role and partnerships should reflect this in the level at which they recruit coordinator posts.
Have the ultimate aim to better coordinate existing services, not provide a new one.
Have the time and flexibility to build trust and positive relationships with individuals and to provide person-centred support based around individuals’ needs and aspirations rather than the needs of services. Small caseloads are vital for this, allowing plenty of contact time. Personal experience of using services can also be very helpful in building trust. Many areas recruit on this basis or use peer support workers alongside coordinators.