Case study: Our commitment to equity
During the pandemic, ABC developed equity teams in Surrey and Sussex to initially engage with those less likely to access vaccination services and who, in many cases, had no existing relationship with primary care. Our ongoing aim is to ensure equity for underserved communities and to do this we have to respond to their needs and adapt our services.
Learning from the expertise of partners who had links with the communities we wanted to engage with, as well as our newly employed equity managers, we began to work with people experiencing homelessness, refugees and asylum seekers, and GRT communities. Many hours were spent not just vaccinating these cohorts but also listening to their needs and understanding their concerns and long-term health needs.
Having forged relationships and earned their trust, it was clear that we could do so much more if we were willing to meet these people in their own settings – where they feel most comfortable.
Towards the end of 2022 we began to roll out health checks across East Surrey to engage with people aged 40-75 and identify those most at risk of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia. Working with public health, the equity team built on their work with vulnerable cohorts to ensure they too had equal access to such preventative programmes. The team invested in new portable health check equipment and began visiting local faith settings, community centres, GRT sites, homeless shelters and refuges. To ensure that ‘every contact counted’ access to vaccinations was also offered alongside checks at each site.
Clinics are tailored to meet the specific needs of these communities, for example, some offer food to encourage a relaxed atmosphere- a homeless charity donation has also funded food vouchers for those in need.
With a better understanding of the barriers to equity in our communities and the groups of people experiencing inequity as well as data from this work, the equity teams are well placed to continue working with system partners to design responses that are flexible and impactful reaching underserved communities.