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Using a community data tool to enhance population health approaches

Community Action: MK has developed a data gathering tool to collect insight and intelligence from local communities which can be combined with population health data and support service redesign.

  • Proposal
  • 2022

Meet the team


  • Clare Walton, Julie Webb, Anna Klis-Davies, Rebecca Warrener - Community Action MK
  • Louis Sandford - Mental Health Commissioner
  • Nicky Wadely - Asst Director for Population Health

What is the challenge your project is going to address and how does it connect to the theme?

This project will address is how to capture lived experience data that grassroots voluntary, community & social enterprise (VCSE) groups are uniquely placed to gather, and combine it with more traditional data sets to improve mental health services. This will support better outcomes because change will be directly informed and co-produced by VCSE and NHS teams, with direct input from beneficiaries, so much more likely to be sustainable in the long run. We will achieve this by using the existing, bespoke MK Community Data Tool to gather grassroots intelligence as part of the existing local VCSE network, the MK Mental Health Alliance (MKMHA).This collaborative network has already enabled two very small, grassroots VCSE groups to feed vital lived experience data regarding mental health access and provision directly to mental health service providers to affect positive change. Without the MKMHA they would not have been able to participate in this way.

What does your project aim to achieve?

This project aims to support mental health services and strategic planning to reflect the needs of beneficiaries more accurately.  It will enable Lived Experiences to be heard and used alongside currently recognised data sets to co-produce solutions. Two current health inequality projects run through the alliance are focusing on better health outcomes for BAME and LGBTQIA+ communities, with data being collected via embedded and trusted local VCSE groups. VCSE groups working across communities in MK are involved in the MKMHA, making data relating to the wider determinants of health accessible to service providers. This project will allow us to develop the tool further to enhance its analysis/reporting functions and expand its use to capture information from more communities facing inequalities in mental health.  More broadly, we will be able to gather evidence and learning that supports a more inclusive, participatory approach to improving population health across a range of areas.

How will the project be delivered?

The three main areas this project involves are:

1) Digital development of the community data tool. This would be carried out by our experienced digital partner.

2) Supporting a diverse range of communities to feed insights into the tool. This work will be done by the CA:MK team, who have existing experience of gathering community data and strong links across the VCSE sector.

3) Creating better links with primary care networks so that local Lived Experience can be used by health providers to directly improve their services.

Our approach is based on co-production with all MKMHA members so they are invested and committed to using the tool. We will develop an outcomes framework and risk analysis to monitor progress and manage risks.  This project will be supported through existing governance arrangements for the mental health community transformation programme, which will enable us to work with colleagues that are experienced in quality improvement methodology.

How is your project going to share learning?

We will build on the approach of open learning, which was at the heart of developing the MK Community Data tool. We will share achievements and challenges through a variety of communication channels including local and national networks (e.g. NAVCA, The Data Collective and the NHS Improvement Team). We are involved in the NHSE VCSE Leadership programme, which provides an avenue for sharing learning nationally. Greater integration of the VCSE and integrated care systems is articulated in national policy so the learning will prove valuable to all ICSs. The tool is open source meaning other organisations can adopt a similar approach to gathering Lived Experience data. Mental health alliances are being established across the four local authority areas within our integrated care system which will support learning and adoption across the local footprint. As a Q member I will also commit to ensuring learning is shared via the Q community.

How you can contribute

  • Critical friend
  • Collaborator
  • Investor

Plan timeline

17 Jul 2022 create outcomes framework/risk analysis and finalise project plan
31 Jul 2022 initial meeting with digital partner to agree Tool development plan
14 Aug 2022 launch project at MHA meeting and coproduce data collection plan
31 Aug 2022 check in with digital developer
25 Sep 2022 initial meetings with primary care networks
16 Oct 2022 user testing for amendments and additions to MK Data Tool
31 Oct 2022 agree communication plan relating to Lived Experience data including reporting
13 Nov 2022 launch tool with new and improved functionality
22 Dec 2022 focused comms/support to engage new VCSE groups using the tool
31 Jan 2023 initial reports for PCN/ liaising with developer around reporting functionality
28 Feb 2023 mid project monitoring review
31 May 2023 continue supporting VCSE groups to feed data into the tool
31 May 2023 create reports using new functionality relating to wider determinants
31 May 2023 regular reporting and meeting with PCNs assessing impact/ agree improvements
30 Jun 2023 monitoring report, comms to share learning with local/regional/national networks

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