Why the relationships we build with partners already working in the heart of communities are crucial to delivering real, long-lasting change.
Community partners play an integral role in local health solution design and delivery. Their established and trusted position within the community allows us to draw on their invaluable insight and experience to create solutions that are tailor-made with both the commissioner and the needs of the community in mind.
Not only can we build upon these existing relationships when implementing new contracts, but we can also triangulate data and insights to support people, and share power and resources with communities. As Head of Integrated Wellbeing, a large part of my role involves co-developing solutions that facilitate positive health outcomes in communities, with our community partners at the heart of our engagement.
The importance of community partners to our commissioners
Commissioners recognise the importance of community partners and will often engage with the local and community sector to ensure their role in the development of public health specifications or services.
Commissioners often work to balance skills and experience of small specialists and the benefits of their size and focus, with requirements to balance commercial realities of risk and delivery at scale.
Community partners come in all shapes and sizes, but often bring meaningful engagement with specific and targeted priority communities, who often experience inequalities when it comes to health and wellbeing.
Working with partners brings a level of depth and attention to addressing these inequalities. They offer perspective that is reflective of true understanding, lived experience and empathy. Our work to support communities shouldn’t dilute the efforts of this targeted approach, but instead create more supportive systems and frameworks from which the work of these community partners can be enhanced.
Tapping into local knowledge and expertise
There are many benefits of working closely with community partners. They are trusted, established and local, so help us to complement the great work they are already doing, reducing duplication of effort. A win-win.
They understand their communities and often represent them too, ensuring our approaches and services are grounded in pragmatism, whilst also helping us to remain empathetic and person-centred. They also often have recognised communication channels to communities and can be much more agile and hyper-local in their messaging and engagement techniques.
Community partners also have an evidence-base of not only what has worked well in the past, but also what hasn’t worked well, which is insightful and helpful when we work to create new and innovative services.
Laying the foundations of future legacy
Maximus cannot deliver its programmes in a silo, nor will we necessarily be delivering in an area once a service reaches its natural end. That is why it is vital that we work collaboratively with local community partners, who play an integral role in legacy development beyond our contracts.
By engaging with community partners from the outset, there is a shared appreciation and development of our mission and aims, enabling us to create a positive foundation for the future.
Given that health and wellbeing inequalities in an area can take years to positively influence, we must recognise this to ensure approaches are not tokenistic or purely focused on ticking boxes. Community partners are part of the local fabric and therefore we want to work with them to ensure our impact is shared and facilitates further empowerment and enablement.
As I say, Maximus can’t deliver these services alone. By recognising what Maximus isn’t, we can also be clearer on what we can offer, and it is this work with local community partners, that ensures we collectively have the right ingredients to make the desired impact. It also allows flexibility for innovation and growth, with Maximus often better positioned to mitigate and manage risks while being bold in testing new approaches.
We’re proud of the partnerships we have built to date and look forward to developing many more. With their valuable input, we are better-informed and better enabled to empower and enrich the communities we serve.