Whilst unemployment is currently low in Wales relative to past decades, economic inactivity due to ill health remains high, and our latest report provides evidence as to how this can be addressed focussing on partnership structures and processes.
The most common forms of poor health that impact on an individual’s ability to stay in work, are poor mental health and musculoskeletal disease. The report presents evidence on how organisations can work together more effectively to either reduce the numbers of people leaving work due to these issues or increase the numbers of people re-entering work following a period of sickness.
The key messages in the report relate to how learning from the evidence can be mainstreamed into the ways stakeholder agencies work together to change working practices and improve outcomes over the long term.
The main lesson from the evidence is the importance of co-producing interventions with all relevant partners involved from the outset; in identifying the problems, the solutions and who is responsible for each stage of delivery. By operating in this way health services, employment services and employers can agree joint outcomes, understand each other’s perspectives and be held to account for each stage of the process.
The other message for policy makers is the importance of adhering to all aspects of successful interventions. There are many examples of successful interventions which support people back into work that contain a number of steps and require continued support. The evidence shows that the closer these models were adopted elsewhere, the more successful they were. Conversely, areas which had tried adopting only some elements of the interventions had experienced less positive results.
Therefore, effective early co-produced interventions which use existing evidence and adhere to proven examples of what works are therefore vital to this agenda.