Personalisation – bridging the gap between theory & practice

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.

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.
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3 Responses to Personalisation – bridging the gap between theory & practice

  1. afteralice24 says:

    sounds like it was well worth attending – and the points you have come away with are absolutely valid – especially ensuring “person-centred” means just that – and that we dont rush in and out of someones life just so that we have got another support plan done. I have come across an inspiring service users organisation in Richmond who are using very creative ideas to make sure people really do end up with an improved quality of life – they are RUILS – i have featured them on my blog post “curiouser and curiouser” on afteralice.wordpress – I also agree with you about jargon and stuff – i struck me how wordy it gets to explain the personalisation process – and confusing – so I thought hard about and came up with a visual aid which our team now uses and clients really appreciate. I’m afraid I have been unable to paste it here – I am not a techno bunny – but its on my blogpost “the white rabbit has a beer”…. do please have a look and use it if you consider it useful.


  2. country boy. says:

    There is no doubt we have a very big problem in respect of care re: health and wellbeing. As for the Dilnot Reforms, I fail to see how the cost of change can be plucked out of the thin air without even knowing what is needed or how it may be achieved. If we didn’t know how we got into this mess how the heck are we going to get out of it? Instead of pausing for thought now, perhaps we should have used a bit of common sense.


  3. Pingback: Round up of “In my shoes” – Dementia Awareness, Week 4 | Whose Shoes?

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