This guest blog is from Service User Engagement Co-ordinator Justin Nield. Justin has been working on the Fulfilling Lives: supporting people with Multiple Needs Blackpool Programme funded by the Big Lottery.

I haven’t always been a Programme Co-ordinator and I lived with Multiple and Complex needs for most of my adult life. I spent over 20 years in active addiction, suffered with enduring mental health issues and ended up living on the streets, frightened, confused and vulnerable.

In 2011, with the co-ordinated support of multiple agencies working together and a team of dedicated workers, I finally managed to get clean and sober, find stable accommodation and a sustainable treatment package. Currently, I am in full time employment as a valued member of the Blackpool Fulfilling Lives team and I am studying for my degree.

There are clearly shortfalls and gaps in Blackpool’s current service delivery and the way in which we support people with multiple and complex needs. In my experience there are a number of reasons for this: lack of communication, lack of collaboration, lack of available funds, massive cuts in funding, negative mentality of workers and an unwillingness to share best practice.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic organisations currently operating in Blackpool and lots of dedicated, passionate workers. But we all need to be working together in co-production, with a shared vision and working practice to really sustain positive outcomes and systemic change.

Working together in partnership we can change the way in which we support vulnerable adults living in the UK with Multiple and Complex needs. An example of how it’s already working in Blackpool; One area of increasing activity and cost in is emergency ambulance call outs, with activity growing at approximately 6% a year. Out of fifty Frequent Callers, a small cohort (six) were identified as vulnerable adults living with complex needs, the impact this group have on emergency and unscheduled service is huge (approximately 40 call outs per month). The ambulance service and emergency costs alone reach £13,480 per month on a rolling basis. Fulfilling Lives working in co-production with the Frequent Caller initiative supported these six people back into current services and co-ordinated specific care planning. As a result of this work these people are not only better supported, but over a period of three months, costs have reduced from 447 to 44. It’s not rocket science!

I believe that getting the right co-ordinated support, at the right time, saved my life.
Fulfilling Lives is potentially the ‘Game Changer’ for the way in which we support people living with multiple and complex needs, not only in Blackpool but across the whole of the UK.