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Strengths, assets and place – The emergence of Local Area Coordination initiatives in England and Wales

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JournalJournal of Social Work
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Mar 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 11 Apr 2020
Number of pages23
Early online date11/04/20
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Summary: Local Area Coordination is an approach that emerged during the 1980s and 1990s to support individuals with learning disabilities in rural and metropolitan Western Australia. Offering direct family support, signposting and networking it aimed to improve access to services and promote social inclusion. It leveraged community resources and sought broader transformation through local collaborations and service redesign, as underpinned by a strengths-based philosophy. Scotland introduced a similar model of delivery from the early 2000s for learning disability support. Since 2010, a number of English and Welsh Local Authorities have introduced Local Area Coordination, and in doing so have expanded its support eligibility criteria to include those considered ‘vulnerable’ due to age, frailty, disability, mental health issues and housing precariousness. Findings: This article provides the first review of developments in England and Wales. Drawing upon published evaluation studies it reflects on Local Area Coordination implementation; reviews the existing evidence base and challenges that surround data collection; and discusses the competing logic of Local Area Coordination in its aim of supporting individual and community improvement of health outcomes and well-being, and of furthering local government civic engagement and participation. Applications: This article points to challenges and opportunities of implementing such a strength-, assets- and placed-based initiatives within Local Authority social service settings. Embedding Local Area Coordination within Local Authority settings requires skilled political and policy leadership. It balances emerging individual outcomes – health and well-being – with the civic mission (values, control and coproduction), and avoids one being subverted to the other.

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