Are we working in partnership?

When working as a health worker with vulnerable families, there is often organisational rhetoric  that we work in partnership across agencies in order to achieve the best outcomes for children and families. partnerships There exists differing opinion though as to what “partnership” actually looks like.  In reality often it means a referral to another agency with no ongoing relationship with that agency and little sharing of the work apart from initial basic client information.  This does not meet the definition of “partnership” as defined by Stern & Green in 2005 (‘Boundary workers and the management of frustration: a case study of two Healthy City partnerships’ in Health Promotion International, 20(3): 269–276).  They describe partnership as two or more organisations that ‘make a commitment to work together on something that concerns both, to develop a shared sense of purpose and agenda, and to generate joint action towards agreed targets’.  The Continuum of Joint Effort model developed by Success Works in 2002  highlights that there are various forms of relationships between agencies from networking through to cooperation, coordination, collaboration and finally partnership.  ( see for details ). Partnership implies a sustained relationship, formal agreements, shared vision and goals, interdependence, detailed joint planning and role clarification.  In most health and community agencies there is little time dedicated to such endeavours. Questioning the quality of the relationship required to meet best outcomes for families is often neglected and the reality that true partnership is often required when working to support the most complex family units. In some situations, there may be less need for true partnership and coordination maybe all that is needed but workers require clarity around this and an understanding of where investment in relationship building across services will lead to better outcomes for families. In general, the higher the risk issues in families, the more need for partnership models for practice. Mandy Seyfang  


1 Comment

Filed under Infant, Mandy, Mandy Seyfang, Mental, Mother, Seyfang, Uncategorized

One response to “Are we working in partnership?

  1. Good point, particularly in view of the new models of supporting kids. We really need to remember the quality in all of the relationships

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