A break in the “in my shoes” series today to reflect a little on an ‘anniversary’. Next week is CARERS’ WEEK and the dementia series will return with posts every day raising awareness of what it means to be caring for someone with dementia. But today it is exactly a year since I was on the Q&A panel at a national personalisation conference at Coventry University. I came away fired up and wrote this analysis. I looked at how I felt things needed to change, and it remains one of my most popular blogposts to date. So, a year on, how much has changed? How much have we achieved? A rhetorical question for now, but perhaps food for thought…
I was very pleased to be invited to be a panelist on a Question & Answer session at the SSRG conference in Coventry Personalisation and Personal Budgets: Lessons from Research, challenges from Policy and Practice. It was just like the BBC’s “Question Time”- but without David Dimbleby. I am co-manager of a discussion group on LinkedIn with Philippa Codd, a highly acclaimed social care and health consultant. Our group is called “The personalisation group to revolutionise social care”. We have explored issues around “barriers” and “enablers” to personalisation in some depth and I have also written a more detailed account of this Q&A session there. Please apply to join if you are interested to know more.
The panelists were:
- Prof Peter Beresford, Brunel University
- Andrew Jepps, Northamptonshire Adult Social Care
- Clive Newton, Age UK
- Gill Phillips, Nutshell Communications Ltd
- Anna Thacker, Warwickshire County Council
- Dr Clare Wightman, Grapevine, Coventry
The session was very well facilitated by Maryam Zonouzi, Director of the Coalition for Independent Living.
My top 10 issues from the discussions:
(1) Choice – we need to give people REAL choices about how they spend their lives and a chance to fulfil their potential. I shared the analogy I regularly use about fruit …this became a key theme for the day – the subject for a future blog!
(2) Cut down bureaucracy – tools and processes are getting in the way of improving people’s lives and spoiling relationships between people who use services and professionals. The tide is starting to turn in schools with an announcement this week that teachers can get more “hands-on” with children, including ….horrors…. comforting a child!
(3) Get people working together in a creative way to unblock issues, tackle difficult conversations and build relationships…walk in their shoes… hmmm, perhaps we need a creative learning and development / engagement tool here?…..!
(3) Avoid jargon and over-complicated language – and job titles – imagine introducing yourself as the Person-Centred Planning Facilitator (and that’s one of the better names!)
(4) Follow up doggedly the Dilnot report and current examples of shameful care highlighted in the media until such time as everyone who requires support with health / social care needs can receive assistance in a fair, safe and dignified manner.
(5) Listen to what people want to achieve in their lives (outcomes) and make sure that the types of support that will be most helpful to them actually EXIST and that they have the right ADVICE & INFORMATION to find them.
(6) Embrace the spirit of personalisation in everything we do – whether community based or “service” based. Put the person in the centre and make the services fit and join up around the person – not the other way round!
(7) Advocacy – we all know that personalisation can work well if you or an advocate can understand and get the best out of the system. We need to ensure that EVERYONE has someone to help them navigate the care system and make the best choices.
(8) Recruit people into social care and health with the right values and attitudes and then train them for the “real world”. Do this WITHOUT stifling the very values and aspirations that made them want to work in the sector in the first place!
(9) Support (rather than chop!) the organisations who are meant to be supporting “Big Society” (in particular, user-led organisations and voluntary sector)
(10) Transforming lives is about inclusion – the key thing for most people is whether there is someone who really cares whether they have a good life or a bad life. Not easy to prescribe but a reality – and where a caring society is truly tested.
The way forward, as I see it:
Recruit for attitudes and values.
Strip out unnecessary complications
Concentrate on person-centred support / outcomes
Engage people; remove “us” and “them” between people who use services and professionals.
Harness creativity and provide a safe atmosphere for people to work constructively together.
Ensure robust monitoring systems, including unannounced visits
Pull together existing good practice for people to use and share in a manageable way and stop inventing new processes and frameworks!
Get on with it! – improving lives cannot be put on the “back burner”
I stress that this is my personal response to the session. More a reflection than an actual summary – any comments gratefully received.