Innovation Exchange

The Crescent Life Services Centre

Introduction

Key activities

Benefits and impacts

Learning

The Crescent Life Services building in Dundee’s Whitfield estate is a model of partnership working in practice; promoting joint working between co-located departments and partners and providing a vibrant community resource in an iconic and innovative building which has community, health and social care services – along with shops, a café and a library – under one roof. It has brought together 160 staff to deliver key ‘life’ services and provided a focal point for the regeneration of the area.

 

The real success of The Crescent will be measured in reductions in social and health inequalities over many years, but in the short time it has been open the building is already improving collaboration, streamlining services and encouraging local people to use a wider range of services and have a greater say in their community.

 

Theme: Partnership and Collaboration

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One of the pillars of public service reform is a greater focus on ‘place’ to drive better partnership, collaboration and local delivery. With that in mind, The Crescent is about integrating services to tackle social and health inequalities in one of Scotland’s most deprived housing estates, in a way which also supports the physical regeneration of the estate and engages with local people. Aims include improved social and health outcomes for people in Whitfield, and an increase in public and private sector house building activity to continue the regeneration of the area.

 

The Council’s Whitfield Regeneration Framework identified a need to replace community facilities in a central location, and in a better form, as part of the physical regeneration of the estate.  From a service delivery point of view, the Council was also looking at ways to jointly resource and integrate its services with those delivered by healthcare providers. NHS Tayside supported this integration agenda and recognised the opportunity to tackle Whitfield’s health inequalities and related issues, including the viability of the GP surgery and pharmacy and the lack of clinical and group meeting space within Whitfield. Developing a new building also provided an opportunity to tackle issues of anti-social behaviour associated with community buildings, the shopping area and pharmacy.

 

Another priority, identified through our local community planning process, was to increase residents’ influence in the regeneration and the development of facilities in Whitfield.

 

The Crescent achieves all of these objectives by placing, at the heart of the physical and social regeneration of Whitfield, a building which brings together community, health and social care services under one roof, giving ‘one stop’ access to ‘life’ services for the public while also promoting joint working between staff from a range of departments and partner organisations with a focus on prevention and early intervention. The Crescent also provides community facilities such as shops, a café and a library, making it a real ‘hub’ for the estate and a catalyst for further development.

 

The project was developed through effective partnership and engagement between Dundee City Council, NHS Tayside (Dundee Community Health Partnership), the Whitfield Development Group which represents local residents and the resident-led management group of the Whitfield Community Centre.

 

In developing the building, the partners listened carefully to residents as part of the planning process. Draft plans were shared with the community and a great effort was made to ensure that the design of the external and internal areas fitted with the wishes and expectations of the local community. Room sizes, landscaping and colour schemes were all consulted on. The community was involved throughout the building phase through successful initiatives like the highly creative public art project, which enhances the focus and local character of the site.  A hand-over event at The Crescent in March 2014 connected local residents and stakeholders to the new building by returning the artworks to the community who co-designed them.

 

The result is a unique community building, located in the heart of Whitfield.  The Crescent comprises a double fronted, two-storey building with a central foyer.  From here the public can access all services and also the plaza which extends across the new ‘High Street’ to link The Crescent with the new Ballumbie Primary School. The plaza is a landscaped outdoor space where the community can sit, meet or host events such as outdoor performances, fairs or markets.

 

The ground floor contains a large entrance foyer, a locally-run café, a library, shared use community and NHS rooms and retail units. Boots Pharmacy occupies one of the retail units and a small supermarket will occupy another. The upper floor contains a GP surgery, clinic and consultation rooms, social work rooms, activity areas and open plan office accommodation shared by staff from Dundee City Council (Communities and Children and Families services)  NHS Tayside and Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership. For health,  The Crescent provides an opportunity to deliver services which do not need highly specialised clinical settings in a much more user/family/child friendly environment, and to try out ‘tests of change’.

The Crescent became operational in April 2014, and service providers have worked together since to deliver a range of services to the local community.

 

Our aim in the long term is a significant reduction in the health and social inequalities in this part of Dundee and an improvement in community wellbeing. The success of the ‘one stop’ approach will take a number of years to evidence, and a long term benefits realisation plan will be developed to assess our success in achieving a measurable reduction in inequalities. However, NHS Tayside already reports that the GP practice has attracted almost 1,000 new patient registrations since The Crescent opened. Success measures will include attendance at the GP, whether individuals are being signposted to other sources of support such as social prescribing, and the uptake of prevention activities such as screening and immunisation.

 

We are already seeing improved communication between staff from different services and organisations who are dealing with the same families, resulting in more streamlined services. For example, the Council’s Social Work teams can easily liaise with colleagues in health (such as health visitors and school nurses) without the need to set up formal meetings, and can also point families towards community activities. The high quality building environment encourages innovative thinking and promotes a culture of high quality services, while, in terms of efficiency, the modern building, shared use of spaces and biomass energy system will reduce costs, freeing up resources for frontline services. Development of The Crescent has also empowered the local community, giving them influence over a major new building and the services it delivers, one example being the establishment of the Whitfield Community Project Local Management Group to take responsibility for the community rooms in The Crescent.

 

We believe The Crescent is taking public service reform into the heart of Whitfield, and is an excellent example of local delivery improving lives and delivering public wellbeing through integrating services and enhancing community engagement to meet local needs.

The Crescent is innovative on several levels. The original regeneration framework envisaged the private sector delivering new community facilities as part of the housing-led Whitfield regeneration. The economic downturn forced the Council into a new approach and we took the bold step of developing community and other infrastructure during the recession period, ahead of development. This puts Whitfield in a much stronger position once the housing market improves.

 

The Crescent is an attractive place for Whitfield residents and a vibrant resource for the regenerated community.  It provides a hub for community and healthcare facilities and is breaking new ground by effectively integrating social work and community health services together under one roof, closer to the community in a way that has never been tried before.

 

The iconic and original building design is innovative. It is inclusive, with a welcoming central foyer, attractive outdoor space and high quality finish.  Anti-social behaviour is discouraged due to it being double fronted with no rear, and no service area. From a security perspective, this removes places for anti-social activity, and ensures good visibility all round the building.

 

The improved access to a wider range of health and social services and the co-location of staff enables NHS and Council staff to work closer together to tackle the issues that contribute to the health and social inequalities in this part of the city. The shared use of the building helps integrate public services and makes more efficient use of a public building.

 

From a user perspective, rather than going to a specific building to see a GP, attend a clinic or meet a social worker, and feeling that everyone knows why you are going to that building, the shared use of The Crescent and the central foyer gives a degree of anonymity to service users. This removes what can be, for some people, a significant barrier to accessing health and social services. The Crescent also provides the opportunity to ‘hook’ people into a range of activities that can benefit their wellbeing e.g. a visit to the doctor can now also provide a chance to use the library, increase IT skills or sign up for new activities.

 

The Crescent is helping to prepare Whitfield for the future. The regeneration plans could see up to 1,000 new homes being developed here and The Crescent has been designed to meet the needs of this enlarged and regenerated community.

 

The benefits of the joint resourcing approach have been recognised and plans are already underway to develop similar models in other parts of Dundee, potentially including an even wider range of service providers, such as the Alcohol and Drug Partnership.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:

 

Gregor Hamilton

Head of Planning and Economic Development

Dundee City Council

01382 433520

Case study added to site: June 2016

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