Well, it certainly feels as though 2012 has started with a bang!
Today “David Cameron orders merging of health and social care … Integration of services will save money says prime minister” (Guardian – 5 January 2012)
At the start of the New Year, Philippa Codd and I announced the re-branding of our LinkedIn group to focus on integration – perhaps Mr Cameron noticed and liked the idea…?
Our group was previously called “The personalisation group to revolutionise social care”. It has grown steadily and now, with over 1000 members, is known for its lively discussions and action-focused approach – constantly sharing best practice, challenging poor practice. It has come alive with more and more people meeting up and working collaboratively, not just on the net.
But the title no longer reflected what we were doing or the way forward. We re-named our group: “The Personalisation Group to Integrate Social Care, Health and Housing”. Housing seems to be omitted from Mr Cameron’s announcement?
Why did we do this? During 2011, we had worked increasingly across health and social care …AND housing. It became very obvious that for a truly person-centred approach, ALL sectors need to work very closely together. After all, if you needed support for a long-term health condition, would you want to struggle to understand the boundaries between different agencies and departments or would you want a joined-up service?
Would you want the nightmare that my family had with health and social care fighting over funding for our relative’s care through a Continuing Care Assessment (ie trying to pass the buck, NOT fighting to pick up the tab!) I remember long meetings with piles of paperwork and five people sitting round the table discussing humiliating “domains” to establish exactly HOW bad this woman, who was clearly dying, was under each category. I remember the anger and frustration, thinking the system had lost the plot somewhere and how much better it would be if these resources were directed at providing the actual care.
Philippa has a strong background in housing and has always seen very clearly the central role of housing in promoting well-being and a personalised approach. We had some very informative meetings with Vic Rayner, CEO of SITRA. This culminated in us being invited to deliver Whose Shoes? workshops as part of SITRA / Box of Frogs wonderful “Festival of Ideas and Possibilities” for personalisation in Birmingham, Leeds and London. We used Whose Shoes? to tease out the key opportunities and challenges and are following up the issues raised with SITRA and with the East Midlands Housing Association.
One of the key concepts of Whose Shoes? is to encourage people to “walk in the shoes” of service users and carers and give everyone a voice. We encourage service users and carers – “experts by experience” to apply to join the LinkedIn group. Please get involved to help us work towards a truly integrated, co-production approach.
It is early days but the re-branding of the group looks to be very timely. Indeed, our experiences of talking in-depth to many service users and carers in 2011, particularly older people, have highlighted the need for integration across not just Social Care, Health and Housing …but also… local services, retailers, bus drivers, leisure facilities…. the wider community!
We are hoping that the new focus – and renewed impetus – really help to build a positive future, improving the lives of vulnerable people in 2012 and beyond.
So, yes, let’s start 2012 with a bang. Happy New Year everyone!