Local Area Coordination in a nutshell
Originating in Western Australia, Local Area Coordination is a practical, assets-based approach that is being adopted by a growing number of local authorities and health partners across England and Wales:
The Local Area Coordination approach…
- Helps communities to become inclusive, welcoming and self-supporting places.
- Supports people to stay strong and prevents a need for service intervention by building on personal strengths and by finding natural support through local relationships.
- Supports people facing crisis to get a person-centred service within the context of a supportive community network around them.
- Helps public services to transform so they are integrated, person centred, and co-produced with communities.
- Reduces costs to the system as a result of people requiring less assessment, intervention and expensive ongoing care.
How does it work?
Each Local Area Coordinator works with a defined neighbourhood of 8000-12,000. They approach, or are introduced to people, who may be isolated, causing concern or are at risk of needing formal services. Coordinators support people to build their own their vision for a good life, finding pragmatic solutions to any problems, and drawing on family and community resources, before considering commissioned or statutory services. This means that instead of assessing or signposting people into services, they can:
- Invest enough time in understanding what a good life looks like to the individual or family, and how they could get there.
- Help people to build their own capacity and connections, so that they can stay strong and independent.
- Build new community connections or capacity where they don’t exist.
This isn’t just a useful addition to existing preventative support, it gradually reforms the ‘front door’ of the local public service system, transferring resources away from interventions which don’t work, into an approach which builds independence, capacity and resilience. By working with communities to recruit and appoint Coordinators across a locality, councils, health and other statutory services can:
- Reduce resources wasted in unnecessary zero-outcome eligibility assessments.
- Replace signposting services which either send people in circles or create dependency.
- Map and invest in local community assets where they are most needed, putting co-production into action.
Local Area Coordination can be accessed and is effective for people of all ages including some labelled as having complex needs, who can be helped to reduce the frequency of crises. It avoids set eligibility criteria and formal assessment processes, in order to get straight to planning and practical action.