It was with some trepidation that I read the Coalition’s new “Vision for Adult Social Care” this week. Would there be any surprises?
It’s great to see the new government taking up the baton of “Putting People First”. The key themes of choice, empowerment, using social capital from communities and partnership working (rather than professionals having a monopoly of wisdom) fit perfectly with “Big Society” principles. Most importantly, once you start to give people a voice – like any democratic approach – there is no turning back. Personalisation is here to stay.
I am, however, particularly pleased to see that my learning and development tool Whose Shoes? is still valid – not just valid but proclaiming loud and clear, and often in uncompromising terms, the key messages included in the new vision statement. As I read on, key messages kept leaping out at me which are totally in line with my Whose Shoes? scenarios … “free the frontline from bureaucratic constraints”….“a proportionate approach to the management of risk”….”the system should support rather than hinder people’s goals”….“educational or employment opportunities”….“reduction of inflexible block contracts”….. “nothing about me, without me”
Whose Shoes? was developed 18 months ago. So does this mean that nothing has changed or moved on? No, it means that change of this magnitude takes time; it must evolve through a shift in power and the creation of new ways of working. Top leaders are using imaginative ways of engaging staff and communities, using the synergy that comes from genuine involvement. Creative approaches to learning, exchanging practical solutions – concentrating on outcomes which may or may not require state-funded services.
Working in silos is no longer an option as personalisation dictates new partnerships. Partnerships start from building relationships. Relationships start from getting to know each other and building trust. Whose Shoes? is inclusive, enabling service users and carers to engage with a wide range of professionals in an extremely natural way. Empathy and innovation are key – it is only through breaking down existing barriers that the conditions will be laid to speed up the journey to personalisation – but avoid derailment.
“Training – for personalisation – is not just acquiring a tick-list of ‘competences’, but developing understanding of how it is for this individual, walking in their shoes…..” - Barbara Pointon, MBE, Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society
“Whose Shoes? was the winner of the national Dragon’s Den style “Thinking outside the Box” event in Newcastle.
About the author Gill Phillips has 30 years experience in social care. She became passionate about the personalisation agenda while working for Coventry City Council as Service Manager, Performance Improvement. Wishing to pursue innovative ways of engaging people, Gill established Nutshell Communications Ltd and developed Whose Shoes? She gives lively, challenging talks and workshops across the UK. Contact Gill through her website www.nutshellcomms.co.uk and follow her on twitter @WhoseShoes