January – opening new doors (ianua)

Which one for 2011?

Looking backwards (yesterday) and forwards today, I think of Janus, the Roman god. Janus was the god of gates and doors (ianua), beginnings and endings, represented with a double-faced head, each looking in opposite directions.  The month of January is named after him. Let’s hope that 2011 is more about looking forwards, opening new doors………

I like a New Year. It feels like a blank page, not yet sullied by the vicissitudes of life. I am a natural optimist so I guess the ianua are half open rather than half closed……So enough rambling and revisiting my Latin roots (or radices) – what might 2011 have in store?

I work in what feels like quite a specialised area – promoting and trying to get people to understand and engage with the “personalisation agenda” in health and social care. The trouble is this shouldn’t be a specialist area – every one of us might one day need help and support, or have family and friends who do. I will talk about this further in my next blog but back to the New Year theme…

Lots of exciting things to look forward to…  On a personal level, January has some interesting opportunities, including a large Whose Shoes? workshop in Walsall. I am working with the University of Wolverhampton who are using the Whose Shoes? approach with local councils and PCTs as part of a major Workforce Development project, including developing a care pathway for frail elderly people and people with dementia. I really enjoy these sessions with multiple perspectives and rich cross-fertilisation of ideas. It is great to see people working and learning together.

Health and social care have traditionally worked far more separately, often in silos. There is variable progress in different parts of the country from “fully integrated” to far less so, but everyone is now facing up to the challenge of “joined-up working”. Although often daunting, this goal is hugely rewarding as success in this area is always beneficial to the people they care for or support!

At the very end of January, I am reporting on this and other key Whose Shoes? projects at the Excellence out of Adversity – International New Types of Worker conference run by Skills for Care / Skills for Health in Glasgow. We will also be updating on progress with our user / carer project in Yorkshire.

Looking wider, other exciting developments that I have been following with interest are shortly coming to fruition. There is so much information on personalisation, often confusing, that I look forward to two key publications in early 2011…..

I believe Shirley Ayres Click guide to Personalisation will be available shortly – and judging by the success of the equivalent Click guide to Children’s Services, this will bring a lot of clarity about available resources and good practice.

April sees the publication of Personalisation in Social Work – Transforming Social Work Practice by Ali Gardner, in the Learning Matters series. Ali is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Manchester Metropolitan University and another passionate supporter of personalisation. I have had some great sessions with Ali, including supporting her students (vibrant, perceptive, challenging!) to play Whose Shoes? helping bridge the gap between the theory of the classroom and the reality of practice placements as they learn more about different perspectives. Ali and I ran a regional workshop together (where my Whose Shoes? DVD was filmed) and have run various joint workshops for academics – all different, all fascinating.

So, good luck to all as we enter 2011 – very challenging circumstances as public sector cuts bite and we all have to work harder to use money effectively for the benefit of vulnerable people who deserve the best a civilised society can offer. There is a huge task ahead of us and plenty to look forward to. As my friend and much respected colleague Philippa said in response to yesterday’s blog … 2011 –  “Bring it on!”


About Gill Phillips - Whose Shoes?

Passionate about personalisation in health & social care. Creator of Whose Shoes? - an imaginative approach to helping people work together to improve lives. http://nutshellcomms.co.uk
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