Category: Not for profit sector

Spectrum Community Health CIC

Wakefield Integrated Substance Misuse Service (WISMS) – now Spectrum Community Health CIC

An investment of expertise, energy and resource commitment from three partner organisations, aiming to achieve a radical change in care for substance misusers through positive and effective change in culture and leadership.

What was the issue?

WISMS is the NHS component of a multi agency partnership which includes the third sector, the local mental health trust, the local authority and criminal justice organisations in the Wakefield district.  WISMS provides treatment and care for substance misusers and offenders (adults and young people) working directly with and on behalf of GPs.

In 2007, NHS organisational and policy changes in this field were placing a significant focus on fitness for purpose, and required WISMS to adopt a more business orientated approach to managing the needs of service users.  Healthskills were commissioned by WISMS in conjunction with the support of a commercial partner, Schering Plough to develop an innovative project to deliver, measure and replicate tangible outcomes for service users.

The aims of the project were:

  • To develop competence and confidence across the WISMS partnership to initiate and lead service change
  • To engage service users, clinicians and managers across all disciplines within the broad substance misuse arena to improve networks and partnership working
  • To develop a set of markers that will measure impact on outcomes, and provide a ‘dashboard’ that will meet the expectations of commissioners, the needs of the service users and the ambitions of the service providers

What did Healthskills do?

The core elements of the programme have involved:

  • Diagnosis and assessment: Benchmarking of existing service outcomes and stakeholder mapping, interviewing and feedback
  • An ‘empowering’ leadership programme to develop knowledge, capability and confidence, and including strategic coaching and mentoring
  • A programme of events to engage and develop service users
  • Development of a balanced scorecard that reflects the outcomes of an exemplar service for substance misusers, focusing on the user experience; individual health and wellbeing; impact on communities and social return on investment.

What is different as a result?

The programme has provided an outstanding improvement in leadership and  communication across multi professional groups, evidenced by greater personal accountability to provide a better substance misuse service in Wakefield, and a wish to challenge the status quo.

There is greater understanding and integration of commissioning in substance misuse and services for vulnerable people.

Service users are more actively involved in driving policy at all levels, including commissioning and shaping services

WISMS successfully applied for, and achieved Integrated Care Organisation status in April 2009, one of only 16 healthcare partnerships in England to do so.

What our client said

I feel immensely privileged to have, through what might best be described as a series of serendipitous events, been able to be involved in the Healthskills Empowering Leadership Programme…

… overall I have felt increasingly more comfortable with myself and my role as “leader” and marvelled in the way in which so much personal achievement and personal change has been gained by so many of the participants on the ELP in such a short time …

… the ELP is about achievement at all levels – this has been a lesson in the importance of celebrating achievement, of whatever kind – helping individuals acknowledge what it Is, how to continue to aspire toward it and not being afraid to acknowledge it. A  lesson in watching how, when given the opportunity to step out, stand back, reflect within an evidence based framework individuals regardless of their role can all start to make significant achievements toward their goals – what power to effect change!

                                                                                                         Dr Linda Harris, Clinical Director, WISMS


We have worked with not-for-profit, voluntary and charitable organisations for many years providing support for learning and development, leadership, engagement and culture change.  Macmillan Cancer Support, Spectrum Health CIC and Age UK are organisations which have benefited from our help and are seeing more capable and confident leaders, better team working and cohesion and more effective collaboration with other sectors and partners.

Our expertise

Our clients consistently tell us we are authentic and empathetic in our approach, and that integrity is important to us. Having a focus on ‘beginning with the end in mind’, understanding the real challenges you currently face and being able to deliver sustainable change are part of our core values.


The Healthskills approach to developing organisational health within the not-for-profit, voluntary and charitable sector can involve many different interventions based on an initial discussion with the client, diagnostic assessments and a co-created delivery plan.  Elements may include:

  • Leadership development programmes
  • Board development
  • Service user development
  • Service user engagement initiatives
  • Action learning around specific organisational or service challenges
  • Developing a balanced scorecard for organisational outputs
  • Executive and senior leader coaching

To discuss how a tailor-made programme can benefit your organisation please get in touch:

Macmillan Cancer Support

The design and development of a Patient Leader development programme for Macmillan Cancer Support, aimed to develop the capability of local leadership to improve patient care.

What was the issue?

The NHS Five Year Forward View says that ‘we need to engage with communities and citizens in new ways, involving them directly in decisions about the future of health and care services’ (5YFV, 2014). The concept of patient leadership is emerging as one important new way of working collaboratively with patients and carers.

The establishment of Healthwatch as the independent consumer champion, provided an opportunity for patient representatives to have a strong voice of influence and a genuine leadership attitude and capability in order to adequately serve their local communities.  Healthskills were commissioned by Macmillan to develop and facilitate a programme to support patient leadership, recognising the need to develop these individuals, many of who were recovering from cancer and often in challenging and pivotal roles, to become the system influencers and community enablers who will truly make a difference to those using and receiving cancer services in their localities.

What did Healthskills do?

We designed a programme that incorporated different elements, different experiences and different levels of a blended approach to meet the diverse needs of the disparate cohort of individuals we were working with.  The programme design consisted of the following interventions:

  • Programme launch workshop: designed primarily as an engagement event with an emphasis on both what the programme can provide for participants and to explore specific needs and aims of participants from the programme;
  • Masterclasses exploring leadership issues and the application of theory into practice;
  • Action learning set sessions to reflect and consider how they are applying new skills and developing their leadership behaviours;
  • Individual coaching sessions to reinforce the learning and unpack the challenges ahead.  The sessions provided opportunities to consider next steps and focus on developing goals to enable them to realise their aspirations;
  • Leadership Conference to share learning, achievements and challenges and future plans

What is different as a result?

The programme has provided a significant improvement in the confidence and capability of the participants.   Patient leaders report that they felt more equipped and confident in their skills around leadership and management, better able to act as an advocate for their conditions and more effective at influencing peers and stakeholders.

What our client said

I currently work for Macmillan Cancer Support and invited Healthskills to submit a tender to design and deliver a pilot patient leadership programme.  The programme launched in May and evaluations and feedback so far have been excellent.  I would wholeheartedly recommend Healthskills as a quality provider of management and leadership programmes for the health and social care sector.

Angela Cleary, Leadership and Support Lead, Macmillan Cancer Support

The programme equipped me with the skills to distinguish between a leader and a manager and I learned to identify the areas I needed to work on. The one-to-one coaching sessions were probably the most valuable hours I have spent since restarting my career. I developed a great rapport with my coach and I was able to be frank and honest about my own personal fears and insecurities. These sessions have formed a huge part of my personal growth over the last few months.

As a direct result of this course, I had the confidence to apply for a job I may not have considered before and am now in a leadership role that I love.  It’s early days but I’m putting into practice the things I learned and achieving brilliant results so far. Through work and self-improvement, I feel like a different person from when I was just out of recovery. I feel empowered and on top of my game and so much of that’s attributable to the Patient Leadership Course. I’m forever glad I took the opportunity.

Participant, Developing Patient Leaders Programme