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New research launches highlighting the transformative impact of Local Area Coordination on people, communities, and the service system

The research

Today we are delighted to support the launch of new research into the transformative and positive impacts of the Local Area Coordination approach. Since 2019, the Local Area Coordination Network of councils (convened by Community Catalysts CIC) has worked with an NIHR-funded academic partnership consisting of the Universities of Hull, Sheffield, York, Exeter, and Leeds to undertake the first ever ‘multi-site’ evaluation of Local Area Coordination in England and Wales.

“By undertaking the first comparative research on Local Area Coordination, we were able to evidence how the approach creates consistent outcomes across locations. What is really important is that by focusing on how people experience LAC, we’ve been able to capture the impact on individuals and their communities, and the benefits it offers for the public services system.”

Professor Joe Cook (Research Lead, University of Hull)

Key findings

1. Positive impacts for people and their families including:

  • An improved sense of connection, companionship, and reduced isolation.
  • Increased confidence and independence.
  • Improved coping mechanisms and strategies.
  • Reduced stress and anxiety.
  • Decreased risk of crisis situations in the future.

The research highlighted the importance of trust and time in the relationships forged between Local Area Coordinators and the people and families they are alongside. Local Area Coordinators achieve this using a non-hierarchical, person-centred approach. This often contrasted with the research participants’ previous experiences of services. It demonstrated that things like time and trust aren’t simply ‘nice to haves’ within the design and logic but essential parts of the approach, and result in more sustainable outcomes.

In addition, taking a strength-based approach, recognising and celebrating potential in people, and appreciating their gifts were all identified as important aspects of producing sustainable outcomes.

2. Positive impacts on communities including:

  • Increased community engagement and local participation.
  • Positive relationships forming between local people.
  • Awareness of (and access to) community assets.

The research showed how Local Area Coordination is building connection between local institutions and communities, strengthening relations, and nurturing trust in communities.

It also identified a notable ‘ripple effect’ observed from participant’s stories. For example, people who had a Local Area Coordinator alongside them surpassed national averages for volunteering rates.

3. Preventing, reducing, and delaying a need for formal care

The research showed that Local Area Coordination prevents, reduces, and delays a need for formal care and supports. This resulted in:

  • People feeling more capable of dealing with problems early on, preventing them from getting worse and experiencing crisis.
  • People finding support from natural sources like friends, neighbours, and community organisations, rather than drawing on formal services.
  • People already drawing on formal services becoming better able to find the right support, at the right time and in the right way for them, thus reducing the overall need for ongoing costly and longer-term service intervention.

The research also highlighted how Local Area Coordination helps prevent people from becoming lost in the system or trapped navigating it, and ensures they know their rights and entitlements. It shows how Local Area Coordination supports improvements in the way that the system works, driving improved collaboration, cultural and practice shifts for professionals, and continuous advocacy for person-centred support, as well as feeding people’s experiences back to system leaders.

Read the short summary policy briefing.

Read the full research.

Contact for more information.