Someone was talking to me today about my previous blog post. No, not about the snow falling, although they thought this was “cool”….
We were talking about why I first developed the Whose Shoes? board game. A key reason was that I disliked traditional “top-down” approaches to training and “death by powerpoint”. I wanted to create an interactive tool that would give everyone a voice – something that would cut across traditional organisational and hierarchical boundaries and get everyone working together in a person-centred way. In my view, people need to feel “listened to” before they will fully understand and engage with major change.
In this case, the major change in question was one that I feel really passionate about – the opportunities and challenges of the personalisation agenda in health and social care. I strongly believe that we will only make progress with this if we allow people to relax and give them the time and necessary support to explore ideas and harness creativity. The best ideas often cost less than traditional services – but can only be discovered through innovative approaches. After all, everyone knows that…
if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got, and you’ll always feel what you always felt
The personalisation challenge is two-fold: to deliver the outcomes that people want to live fulfilled lives AND find ways to make the money go further. To me these are not incompatible – examples of small, simple but highly effective improvements abound. Frequently, the best ideas come from the “front-line” – whether through people’s personal or professional experiences. These people live in the real world and know whether choice really exists and what will make the biggest difference.
So this comes back to our exciting Skills for Care / Skills for Health project with Barbara Dalby and Sharon Terry in Yorkshire & Humber. These sessions are led BY service users and carers FOR service users and carers – recognising that people are “experts by experience” and empowering them to take a lead.
Other examples are happening in university settings. For example, two service user-led organisations in Wales (the Cardiff & Vale Coalition of Disabled People and a similar group in Bangor) are running Whose Shoes? sessions for university students (Cardiff & Bangor Universities) – and a very similar initiative exists between SWIG (Social Work Inclusion Group) and Portsmouth University.
Fantastic to get service users working with students – after all we’ll be going nowhere with this agenda unless the next generation of social workers and health professionals are working together and putting personalisation at the centre of everything they do.