Publication - Advice and guidance

The role of third sector interfaces: advice note.

Published: 23 Apr 2015
Part of:
Health and social care

This advice note sets out the role of the third sector interface organisations in relation to health and social care integration activities.

The role of third sector interfaces: advice note.
5. The Third Sector Interface

5. The Third Sector Interface

The TSI exists to support, promote, develop and advocate the interests and role of the third sector locally. The experience and ability of the TSI's in these roles makes them ideally placed, to support the guidance at all stages of the strategic commissioning cycle. In this way the TSI can assist Integration Authorities in answering the following questions;

1. Will your approach to strategic planning enable a balanced investment in prevention and crisis, within the financial constraints on the system?

The tacit knowledge and connections of the TSIs can be invested in to support a deeper mapping of the potential assets of the third sector locally which can be enhanced and

co-ordinated to support a balanced investment, especially the potential for growing the preventative assets of the third sector.

2. Will your approach to strategic planning enable you to consider best value for the public purse from a holistic and long term perspective?

To fulfil their core functions TSIs are required to constantly 'horizon scan' and consider the holistic impact of strategy. RCOP has already evidenced that the resultant skills and capacities, incumbent in TSI managers support the wider partnerships to consider investments differently.

3. Does your approach to strategic planning enable a whole system approach, in the context of the whole system being a person's life rather than a service area?

The diversity of the third sector supports all aspects of people's lives. The comprehensive role of the TSI can therefore bring a generalist perspective and 'connect-in' perspectives from across the sector to assist a whole system approach.

4. Does your approach to strategic planning facilitate the implementation of the wider personalisation agenda including self-management, SDS and person-centred-ness and capitalise on the current knowledge locally?

The TSI can map and "connect-in" the expertise of all the third sector organisations operating locally with expert knowledge and experience of self-management, SDS and person centred approaches. The TSIs are also connected to national intermediaries with specific expertise.

5. Does your approach to strategic planning capitalise on the knowledge that has been gained through other major service redesign processes such as the implementation of 'The Same As You?', the Mental Health Strategy and Reshaping Care for Older People?

The TSIs have experience of supporting the third sector and statutory sector to implement a number of strategies, RCOP in particular. This will be of particular value in ensuring effective third sector involvement in the strategic commissioning cycle.

6. Does your approach to strategic planning ensure that services are designed to cultivate assets; empower individuals and communities; and enable self-management?

As well as being well versed in the strategies and techniques that best support this, the development role of a TSI makes a direct contribution to their achievement. TSI support both catalyses action (by supporting groups to translate good ideas into concrete actions) and supports activity to scale up. Their volunteering development also makes a direct contribution at the individual level.

7. Does your approach to strategic planning ensure that service planning takes into account the natural capacity around individuals and in communities as a starting point and seeks to deliver services that fill the gaps rather than disable this capacity?

As a result of their ongoing engagement TSIs have long standing relationships with communities and organisations. They consequently carry a deep knowledge and understanding of the local context which is often maintained in real time. This means they can provide timely intelligence about what is happening in communities, the robustness of current assets and their development. This intelligence will be critical in both identifying the gaps and designing the service solutions.

Third Sector Interfaces are also well versed in the strategies and techniques that best support this tacit intelligence to be more formally explored and captured (such as 'appreciative inquiry and asset mapping).

8. Does the information you have to inform strategic planning include information about the aspirations of 'hard to reach' individuals and communities?

By existing to support the totality of the third sector locally the TSI will have knowledge of third sector groups trusted by 'hard to reach' voices, connecting these voices into the strategic planning process.

9. Does the information you have to inform strategic planning include information about what has and could support 'hard to reach' individuals and communities to engage with services before they reach crisis?

By connecting in harder to reach voices via the sector this can help prevent crisis by identifying third sector led opportunities for anticipatory care and early intervention.

10. Does the information you have to inform strategic planning include soft information and intelligence about the communities you seek to serve?

The TSIs are coterminous with local authority boundaries and engage and support the third sector at all levels across the geography. Ongoing relationships and dialogue with the diversity of the sector locally can provide soft intelligence to inform strategic planning and near real-time information on impact on individuals, communities and organisations.

11. Does the information you have to inform strategic planning include information about how increasing the capacity of communities through the third sector may reduce demand on acute services?

Third Sector Interfaces have supported third sector organisations to consider and evidence their impact both at an individual project and organisational level. Although this includes formal monitoring and evaluation support in some cases, it can also be targeted at supporting organisations to consider what systems evidence is available. For example in the RCOP context, several TSIs supported organisations to consider how the health data routinely captured by ISD (such as SPARRA scores) could be used to evidence the impact of interventions on flow through within the system or on system usage.

12. Do your planning groups include people who have detailed and / or specific knowledge about all of these areas?

Involvement of the TSI within the Partnership provides the ability to exchange information and intelligence based on their connection with local and national expertise. Given the diversity of the agenda this will be critical for Partnerships who cannot contain all interests and knowledge simultaneously. Furthermore the TSIs facilitative role connecting the sector to the CPPs provides a model that can be built on to enable the effective connection of third sector expertise to Partnerships.

13. If not, who could you invite who may address this deficit?

14. Does your investment strategy include investment in the third sector's capacity to contribute, and if so is this sufficient for what you need them to do?

The TSI can play a critical role in identifying effective ways to develop third sector capacity and build the collaborations to provide that capacity. However the TSI itself needs investment to fulfil these roles and effectively 'unlock' the potential of the third sector.