Connecting People is an evidence-informed approach to supporting people to connect with others
Connecting People Research
Connecting People is an evidence-informed approach to supporting people to connect with others.
Social connections are made with neighbours or people living locally; people interested in the same hobby, sport or leisure pursuit; or family or friends with whom the individual may have lost contact. Connecting People supports individuals to develop and use resources from across different networks and communities, and practitioners can help to facilitate this process.
It is a practice model which has been developed and evaluated in two studies funded by the National Institute for Health Research School for Social Care Research in England. Its implementation is now being evaluated in a third.
Connecting People studies
Connecting People emerged from a study of health and social care practice which explored how practitioners support people experiencing mental health problems to connect with others and develop social relationships. Observations from a researcher of good practice in a variety of practice settings was put together in a model through an iterative process of focus groups, fieldwork and consultation with experts. Further information about this study can be found here.
The Connecting People pilot study evaluated outcomes for service users of the model being used in a variety of services for adults with a learning disability or a mental health problem. It found that when the model was implemented with high fidelity, service users’ access to social capital, mental well-being and perceived social inclusion increased. Further information about this study can be found here.
The pilot study found that community mental health teams were largely unable to implement Connecting People with high fidelity and hence outcomes were poorer for service users. Therefore, the Connecting People Implementation Study brought together service users, practitioners and researchers to co-develop an implementation toolkit, comprising guidance on training, practice and implementation. This is currently being evaluated in a controlled study, which also evaluates the process of implementation. Further information about this study can be found here.
The Connecting People model has been culturally adapted for use in very different social, economic and cultural contexts internationally.
In Sierra Leone, Connecting People was adapted for use by mental health nurses in the wake of the Ebola outbreak. An evaluation of the training provided to the nurses found improvements in their skills in communicating and building relationships with service users, identifying assets and linking to community resources. Further information about this study can be found here.
In Nepal, Connecting People was adapted for use by community-based workers to support people in bonded labour to enhance their social connections by engaging in social activities, building trust with supportive people and drawing upon existing resources in their community. Further information about this study can be found here.
Supporting people with mental health problems to develop their social networks is a growing field. Some links to associated research can be found here.