How can you have a really, really important government agenda, that makes a huge difference to people’s lives, one that has support across all main political parties… and then put SO many barriers in the way?
And I am not talking about public sector cuts.
Personalisation of health and social care provision aims to put the person in the centre and LISTEN to what individuals want to achieve in their lives. It means people with disabilities being in control, directing their own lives. Sounds sensible. After all, it is what most of us take for granted.
But there are barriers. Many of them have been around since the early days of personalisation. But, rather like painting the proverbial Forth bridge, just as quickly as some of these are removed, NEW barriers are being erected…
In the past week alone, I have heard, first hand, of three lovely shiny new barriers:
Firstly, I was talking to a friend trying to help a home care provider move forward with their thinking. She managed to persuade the provider that, instead of automatically doing things for people, they should think in terms of promoting independence. Some successful trips had just started whereby the carer took the client to the local shops… so far, so good. And then the local council introduced a NEW rule. Anyone taking service users out in their cars needed to have PUBLIC LIABILITY insurance. Show stopper No 1.
Second example. Some service users and carers, who are really passionate about the personalisation agenda, have been working informally with social work and medical students at the nearby university, including running Whose Shoes? sessions. Expenses were paid through a simple system. The lead person normally keeps in touch with me and is very enthusiastic about this work, doing a great job helping students develop understanding and empathy. She had been quiet for a while, so I contacted her. The message came back “We as a group have had to stop our contribution to the degree as they have changed the way they pay expenses (they want us to be employed.)There have been no more sessions …Its not my enthusiasm that’s dampened but the kick in the teeth that’s hard!” Show stopper No 2.
Third example. I attended the Later Life conference recently in London. Manchester was showcased as “A great place to grow older” – I enjoyed the presentation, really inspiring. Ironically, within days, the same city was the subject of a “tweet”: “Manchester is losing its public toilets. Hmm… service pathway breakdown! TIP 01 How to stop older customers visiting your city centre” – via Twitter Show stopper No 3.
What a shame for people to want to go out, (all that fresh air, exercise, social and mental well-being, no doubt saving money for the health service at some point) but …they can’t go in someone’s car or, when they get there, can’t find a toilet.
Similarly, how can paying expenses be so difficult? By definition, to avoid tokenism and to be inclusive, “service user involvement” must involve a good mix of service users and carers, not only ones that are “employed”. Likewise, don’t we all take people out in our cars without extra special, costly insurance?
If personalisation, as I believe, means enabling people to lead “normal” lives, this sort of nonsense has got to stop.