East Coast Community Healthcare CIC (ECCH) is a staff owned Social Enterprise, providing community based NHS and social care in Norfolk & Waveney.
Our services include district nursing, health visiting, community in-patient services, physiotherapy, speech & language therapy, occupational therapy, specialist nursing care, palliative care, primary care, breastfeeding support, school nursing (Waveney area only) and public health services.
We have contracts with the NHS and two County Councils. At least 70,000 people are registered as service users with ECCH.
Why did ECCH become a social enterprise?
We were part of Great Yarmouth and Waveney NHS Primary Care Trust. We applied to become a social enterprise so that we could take charge of our own destiny and make real improvements in services to patients. It was widely recognised at the time of our spin-out that the social enterprise model would offer us the opportunity to create a more sustainable and flexible organisation. We are a ‘human’ organisation in every way, most of our funds are spent on staff to care for people and we have an ethos of high quality care, every time.
Why does being a social enterprise make a difference?
The difference is that staff have a stake – and therefore a real say – in how the organisation works. Social enterprises offer staff a new sense of belonging. They can even become a Staff Director and sit on the Board, if they’re elected by their colleagues.
One of the current Staff Directors is Ali Jennings, ECCH's Safeguarding Lead/Named Nurse. She said: "The social enterprise model fits perfectly. We are passionate about the care and services we provide but an important difference is that clinicians can influence the strategic direction we take is in the very best interests of patients and clients.
“There is an energy and buzz about ECCH which makes it truly outstanding.”
Recognition for ECCH
In 2013, ECCH was “Highly Commended” in a national competition to find the “Public Sector Mutual of the Year” – the Philip Baxendale Awards.
Afterwards, the Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude wrote congratulating ECCH for the “significant improvements to community healthcare provision since its transfer to an employee owned social enterprise in October 2011.
Mr Maude said in his letter: “ECCH has made positive changes to the healthcare services provided to local citizens.”
Strong performance as a social enterprise
Around 68% of staff are shareholders - well above average for a social enterprise. We established “The Hub” which holds regular meetings for shareholders to aid communication and future growth. Two Staff Directors, elected by shareholders, sit on the Board. Shareholders played a full role in the appointment of the Chair and Non-Executive Directors, playing an integral role ‘from the ground up’ in the continuing direction of the business. Shareholders are regularly consulted.
Achievements as a social enterprise
- East Coast Community Healthcare gave itself four years to achieve a long list of milestones such as implement mobile IT for over 350 staff, create a more integrated approach to improve care for patients, work with our acute hospital and primary care colleagues reduce length of hospital stays, reduce staff sickness… all these we achieved in the first 12 months. We have increased staffing and also reduced overheads to increase spend on services.
- ECCH has received excellent reports following inspections of its community hospitals, district nursing service, and the Nelson GP Practice by the Care Quality Commission.
- We want our patients to have a ‘one-stop shop’ for care: We have been commissioned to run two Out of Hospital teams of nurses, therapists and care workers to serve the Lowestoft and Great Yamouth areas. It is part of a new way of working that integrates NHS and social care services to benefit patients.
- We extended our district nursing service to cover twilight hours and we are now working with staff to provide a resilient 24/7 service to patients.
- The government made us an “Early Implementer Site” for Health Visiting – actively supporting mums during pregnancy and for two years after their child is born.
- Our Family Nurse Partnership programme – supporting teenaged parents – is nationally recognised.
- Our breastfeeding team has been awarded the highest recognition from UNICEF, achieving Level 3 of its ‘baby friendly’ initiative. The team has also launched an App to support mums and dads and has a very successful peer support team.
- In the past year 98% of people who responded to the NHS Friends and Family Test said they would either be likely or extremely likely to recommend the care they received from ECCH.