What does the future hold for social care?
A quick search on google news would suggest the whole sector is a ticking time bomb, with nearly every headline shouting about a ‘chaotic’ system that’s in ‘crisis’ and on the verge of ‘catastrophe’.
But the people behind the Social Care Future movement have a different vision for the sector. One where social care makes a major contribution to everyone’s wellbeing and receives high levels of public and political support as a result.
A spokesman for the group said: ‘#socialcarefuture is a growing movement of people with a shared commitment to bring about major positive change in what is currently called social care.
‘Those coming together via this growing movement include people with lived experience, families, professionals, managers, support providers, user-led organisations, politicians, commissioners, community groups and others.
‘We work together in a variety of ways to pursue the shared vision above. It’s a vision that will require a significant change in what social care does and how it works, moving away from institutional practices by shifting power to people and communities.
‘But it’s a vision we already see inspiring great new approaches all around us.’
In December the group announced plans to host a series of action-focused gathering to explore and develop its work on some big themes and to help bring its vision to life, the first of which took place on February 4 at Manchester’s Friend’s Meeting House.
The event was open to anyone with an interest in social care and began with an energising performance by MiXit, an inclusive touring musical theatre company from the north east.
This was followed with sessions on ‘reframing’ as a tool for achieving social change, as well as discussions about independent initiatives followed by ‘open space’ where attendees were able to bring and share their ideas and actions with others.
Martin Walker from Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) and Rachel Mason, from the National Co-production Advisory Group, then hosted a worshop on self-directed support.
The group examined the gap between the health and social care system’s idealistic ‘policy of personalisation’ and the reality that people needing care and support experience day-to-day.
Participants discussed the ongoing injustices that many people with mental health needs and those in assessment and treatment units still face as a result of an approach that is not meeting their needs. With many blaming the lack of trust between those who use the services, those who provide the services and those who commission the service.
Rachel then shared her own experience of being able to use a direct payment to support her son, meaning she could avoiding an expensive out of area placement which led to a better outcome overall.
She said her success was down to a supportive social worker and an approval panel that focused on reinforcing that what she was proposing offered the likelihood of better outcomes at half the price. She said she ‘got lucky’ in a system that struggles to facilitate similar arrangements for the majority of people.
The group then reflected on how the system would be if more providers took similar approaches.
The afternoon sessions kicked off with a rousing talk on co-production by joint chairs of the Hammersmith and Fulham Disabled People’s commission, Tara Flood and Kevin Caulfield, who were instrumental abolishing home care charges for elderly and disabled people in the constituency.
Ms Flood said: ‘We are calling for a new culture in local government which means that disabled residents and decision-makers are working together in an active way to plan, design and review the policies and services that affect our lives, to get rid of the barriers we face.
In the afternoon, event organiser Martin Routledge hosted a session on commissioning where he shared initial work and thinking aimed at developing a ‘framework for radical change’ to commissioning.
He said the group had spoken with directors of adult social care about what they are motivated to change and what help they would need to in order to align with the group’s vision and mission.
He then invited the group to help draft the framework, starting with the goal of improving lives and strengthening communities; not just services.
One attendee, who commissions services for adults with learning disabilities, said: ‘I look at the ways we can commission services going forward to make sure we involve the people who use them.
‘I was keen to come along because it was the ideal opportunity to meet people who use services and find out what we’re doing right and what we should be doing differently.
‘It’s important to include the people who use the services so we can help create the life they actually need as opposed to the one we think they need.
‘It’s also really helpful to meet people who work in different areas of social care because you get a different perspective. And it’s great to see how driven everyone is.’
‘More than 150 old and new members of the #socialcarefuture movement came together in Manchester.
‘We inspired and supported each other and planned how to turn our vision of the future and frustration with the present into purposeful impactful action. We built on existing plans and made new ones – bringing the diversity of our movement into play by building alliances for serious change.
‘Oh and there was dancing and singing too ‘
Attendee, Jonathan Senker said: ‘I came to the first event and, although there are big things ahead and lots of work still to do, I am really impressed by how things have moved on and the developments you have made since then.
He said: ‘More than 150 old and new members of the #socialcarefuture movement came together in Manchester.
‘We inspired and supported each other and planned how to turn our vision of the future and frustration with the present into purposeful impactful action.
‘We built on existing plans and made new ones – bringing the diversity of our movement into play by building alliances for serious change. Oh and there was dancing and singing too.’
Photo Credit – Social Care Future