Johanna Davies, WCVA’s Head of Health and Social Care, on why our new health and care project is so important for the voluntary sector and the people who use its services.
WCVA’s health and care project is devoted to enhancing relationships between the voluntary sector and statutory health and care organisations, while championing the role of volunteers.
The voluntary sector and volunteering are vital in the delivery of health and care services across every corner of Wales – in fact, there are 1,980 different voluntary organisations in Wales involved in health and care, from transporting people to and from hospital, to caring for people, collecting prescriptions and much more.
Demand for sector services remains high amid the cost of living crisis and the challenges faced by the NHS. However, for the sector’s services to have the maximum impact, it’s important that the sector is able to work in full, equal partnership with statutory health and care providers.
A MAZE OF PROBLEMS
That’s just common sense, right? Yet there are systemic problems that prevent this happening as well as it should – some of which we’ll come to soon. These problems negatively affect both service delivery and the health and wellbeing of those who rely on said services in their day to day lives.
With all this in mind, WCVA is proud to launch our brand new health and care project, funded by Welsh Government for three years. Our project aims to find a way through a maze of problems, identified during a series of stakeholder interviews across the voluntary and statutory sectors, to create a Wales in which the voluntary sector is trusted and valued as integral and equal partners in the delivery of health and care services, while driving innovative approaches. Some of the problems highlighted in these interviews included:
- Volunteers and voluntary organisations not being integrated into planning, leading to disparity in pay and conditions, stifled creativity and difficulties in challenging funders.
- The image of the voluntary sector, sometimes viewed by those outside it as unprofessional, a cheap alternative to statutory services, or both, which can lead to its contributions going unnoticed.
- Issues around strategic and operational delivery, making embedding services a challenge – leading to insufficient staffing levels, duplication of services and shrinking levels of community-led action.
OUR THEORY OF CHANGE
The health and care project’s Theory of Change. A plain text version of the Theory of Change is available here.
Following extensive engagement with the sector, government and statutory service providers, we’ve developed a Theory of Change for the project. This Theory of Change outlines an influencing, enabling and connecting agenda that will be the lynchpin of our activity. We’ll be a critical friend that drives continuous improvement in policy and practice.
We’ll advocate for the sustainable investment the voluntary sector needs to build capacity and drive demand. We’ll enable the sector to evidence its value and plan strategically. And we’ll connect sector organisations to each other and with the health and care system. If successful, we’ll have a voluntary sector that:
- can influence early and be in continuous dialogue with health and care partners
- is more collaborative and with a stronger voice
- is empowered to participate in strategic structures
- is resourced to make meaningful contributions to people
- is valued, trusted and respected by statutory health and care organisations.
It’s an ambitious programme of activity, but one that could make a big difference. But we can only make that difference with your support and that of the wider voluntary sector.