Posts Tagged ‘encouraging innovation’

Random reflections about the public sector and social media from #smwldn_ps

Friday, February 18th, 2011

My thoughts from the Public Sector Innovation Huddle hosted by Viadeo and Dell, as part of Social Media Week London 2011. The unconference was for public sector and third sector communications professionals using or exploring social media best practices. There were nine sessions and I wanted  to attend them all because there was such a range of interesting and diverse subjects!

More thoughts and videos from the Public Sector Huddle on the Viadeo Blog 

 A stitch online – Macmillan’s super scarf  @timolloyd 

“From knitting to nudity” key takeaways from #smwldn_ps

Social Media Week is a global platform that connects people, content, and conversations  around emerging trends in social and mobile media. Between 7th and 11th February, nine cities around the world including London, New York, Paris, Istanbul held hundreds of events focusing on all things social media.

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Guest Blog: Why personalisation can only be achieved through creative engagement

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

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 and follow her on twitter @WhoseShoes

Whose Shoes? is featured as a “good practice” example in the Department of Health: Putting People First Communications Toolkit:
Watch the lovely Whose Shoes? videos

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Digital inclusion should start with local authorities

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

With over 600 hits on the Click Guide to Children’s Services webpage, the Guide has now been downloaded in 30 local authorities, 20 children’s charities, by universities, child minders, foster carers, training organisations and advocacy services. But we are being told by child care professionals in local authorities that they are being blocked from downloading the Guide.

I am not sure why some local authorities are stopping staff from accessing the internet. The Click Guide to Children’s Services is a free downloadable resource which, for the first time, brings together the wide range of resources for looked after children. It is a rich source of knowledge and information and demystifies the complexity of children’s services as well as being a signpost for useful online resources.

It appears that MessageLabs (an email filtering service that a lot of organisations are using) have marked our email messages as SPAM. We would advise you to contact your IT department asking them to ‘white list’ or add the email address to the approved senders list. IT departments should know what to do to make it happen.

If your local authority does not have a social media policy it is worth looking at the trailblazer Blackburn with Darwen guidance.

Contact us – we can help your local authority develop a social networking policy

The Click Guide to Children’s Services is our contribution to promoting joined up thinking across the care sector. We are now working on Guides to Personalisation and Workforce Development (which are due to be published November 2010).

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Why social media is important for social care – the challenges and opportunities

Monday, September 20th, 2010


Social media has the power to encourage social interaction and build both online and offline communities.  Social media provides a new way to engage, connect and link with people who use and provide social care services.

Coming this week my thoughts about: 

How social media  “savvy” are social care organisations?

Who is blogging, tweeting, connecting through LinkedIn and Facebook and posting YouTube videos?

Twitter – the paradoxical answer to information overload and the secret of

How public sector workers are responding to the budget cuts and redundancy via blogs and tweets.

Innovative examples of local authorities using social media to connect with their citizens

Using social media to support children in care. The launch of a unique resource ~ the Click Guide to Children’s Services

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TED inspirational ideas worth spreading

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

 I am passionate about empowering people through knowledge and the power of ideas to change attitudes and lives. TED is a real source of inspiration.  

TED started out as a conference bringing together people from the worlds of Technology, Entertainment and Design (hence TED). The first TED conference included demonstrations of the newly released Macintosh computer and Sony compact disc, while mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot demonstrated how to map coastlines with his newly discovered fractals and Artificial Intelligence guru Marvin Minsky outlined his powerful new model of the mind.

The TED Conferences are the heart of TED and the content has expanded to include science, business, the arts and the global issues facing our world. Over four days, 50 speakers each take an 18-minute slot, with many shorter presentations, including music, performance and comedy.

TED is a unique phenomenon which gathers the best minds from around the world to share thoughts and ideas.  I would like to see a TED conference for social work and social care  to inspire and share best practice across the world. Who would you nominate? 

Some of my favourite TED Talks:

Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution! 2010
In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning — creating conditions where kids’ natural talents can flourish. Ken Robinson challenges the way we’re educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence

Derek Sivers: How to start a movement 2010
Lessons about leadership and the importance of the first follower with help from some surprising footage, Derek Sivers explains how movements really get started.

Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index 2010
Statistician Nic Marks asks why we measure a nation’s success by its productivity instead of by the happiness and well-being of its people. He introduces the Happy Planet Index, which tracks national well-being against resource use (because a happy life doesn’t have to cost the earth). Which countries rank highest in the HPI? You might be surprised.

Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity 2009
The best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love. Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

Julian Assange: Why the world needs WikiLeaks 2010
The controversial website WikiLeaks collects and posts highly classified documents and video. Founder Julian Assange, who’s reportedly being sought for questioning by US authorities, talks to TED’s Chris Anderson about how the site operates, what it has accomplished and what drives him. The interview includes graphic footage of a recent US airstrike in Baghdad.

Tony Robbins Why We Do What We Do 2006
Tony Robbins the pioneering life coach discusses the “invisible forces” that motivate everyone’s actions.

Barry Schwartz The Paradox of Choice 2006
Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

Enjoy, do contribute your own favourite TED Talks and your nominations for the inspiring leaders in social work and social care.


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Social work practitioners develop a caseload management system

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

It is really refreshing to read about the contribution made by practitioners to the very challenging area of workload allocation and caseload management. Biri Yaya and Carolyn Cousins are qualified social workers, managers and published authors who take a keen interest in what really makes a difference to supporting front line social workers and practitioners.

This article shares the essence of two case allocation tools developed by the authors and implemented in a local authority. One of the most difficult aspects of front line management is knowing there is yet more work that has to be allocated to an over stretched team. The temptation can be to allocate to those who are willing, or will offer the least resistance. As all managers know, some staff will over commit and agree to take on more, while others will resist work – and these can sometimes be the very staff who the manager suspects are the least busy.

Many social work offices still rely either on a team meeting forum for allocation – where the overworked but committed social worker puts their hand up to take on more, much to the relief of the manager, while others rarely offer to take on anything new, or the alternative system usually relies on the individual manager allocating work based on their own judgment of capacity, gained from the self report of the social workers. Neither of these systems openly or transparently determines capacity.

The Weighted Case Limit sets a standard across all staff in a team or service, it requires a set case load limit and that case weighting be pre-determined. It allows for better informed judgment of worker capacity for allocation. It also helps define and distil the kind of caseload that can assist the worker’s professional development.

The Individual Capacity Planner is tailored to each worker and aims to assess spare capacity. Here work load capacity is determined using a quick case by case analysis, and rather than use case number ceilings the tool examines the amount of time required for each case. This model has been used both in safeguarding and family support contexts. This model relies on social worker report, but it does introduce some analysis and accountability, beyond a simple, ‘I’m too busy’ or ‘I can take another case’.

A systematic approach that takes optimum capacity in the notionally available time and impacting factors have proved to be effective methods of case allocation. Download the full report including an exemplar of caseload weighting here. Tried and Tested Workload Management Allocation Tools

The authors welcome feedback on these approaches and thoughts from practitioners who use them in different contexts.

About the authors

Carolyn Cousins (MSW, MEd (Adult), Dip. Mgt) is a social worker and adult educator who has worked across the statutory, voluntary and health sectors both in the UK and Australia. She is currently the Assistant Director of Education and Training at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Fountain Trust.

Biri Yaya, (PhD, M.S.W) is an experienced qualified social worker and team manager . He has published a number of peer-reviewed articles.

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2010 – new decade, new challenges – what needs to change in social work and social care?

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

happy new year 2
“We have enough people who tell us the way it is – now we need a few more people who can tell us how it can be!”

A brief roundup of some of  the topics we will be featuring in 2010 

The Advanced Practitioner – managing your career

“Find It Here” – the launch of the first comprehensive Directory of online resources for people supporting children and young people in care

The Big Ideas survey – share your thoughts about how we can improve social work and social care 

Integrated Working – what stops care and health working together?

The e-Learning revolution and social media – a new approach to improve the skills and knowledge of staff in the care sector?

What makes a good employer? A simple audit tool which reveals whether your employer demonstrates that staff really are the most important resource in the organisation.

New Partnerships – Shirley Ayres Consulting will be joining up with a number of organisations who are committed to driving up standards in social work and social care.

Leadership and Management in Social Care – has the investment paid off?

An undervalued and unrecognised resource? – the launch of an exciting new website for grandparents.

Introducing Blastbeat Education UK a not for profit company that has developed a fun & exciting Music & Multimedia Business progamme offered to young people and schools around the world. Blastbeat promotes and encourages young original songwriters & musicians, supporting youth communities on a local & global level, empowering young people to create social enterprises creating community and social capital to help bring about change for the good of society.

Quality Assuring Training  – do the increasing number of quality marks and standards really make a difference to the unregulated training in the care sector?

Stress busters – See life from a different angle.

BASW and the new National College for Social Work

“The insurmountable difficulties of today are the solved problems of tomorrow.” ~ Cardinal Heenan

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Is social work ready for the social media revolution? How to become LinkedIn

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

employer supportSocial media is a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. Three years ago, the term barely existed. Today, social media encompasses social networks, mobile platforms, information sharing, online video, and far more. Facebook the leading social network has over 200 million members.  An interesting development has been the growth of professional networks. Networking is about building relationships, facilitating knowledge sharing, and collaboration.

Research undertaken by Bersin and Associates indicated that informal learning now accounts for over 80% of the learning that takes place in organisations. Social media can make informal learning formal, encourage employees to contribute to the development of a learning organisation and empower people to publish their expertise and learn from each other.

Social media and collaboration tools such as basecamp provide organisations with an easy way to connect with stakeholders, provide direct access to information and an environment for them to contribute to developments and discussion. One of the biggest professional networks is LinkedIn with over 56 million registered users in 200 countries with 2.6 million registered users in the UK. LinkedIn is a good way to raise your profile and connect with people who share similar interests across the world. The launch of the network for professionals who work with children and young people in care was a response to a request to provide a forum for professionals from across the children’s workforce to share good practice and information.

If you are new to LinkedIn I thought it would be helpful to offer a few tips for making the most of your presence online.
1. Complete your basic profile
It is straightforward and worth the time to do this. Put as much detail on your profile as you can, including your current position, work experience, education, specialist skills and interests.  If you upload your CV you can complete your profile in minutes. HR people and recruiters use LinkedIn for candidate searching and they do it by key words. Add targeted words to your profile summary so that people can find your areas of specialism and expertise.

2. Upload a photo
A photo makes your profile more personal. It is good to put a face to a name. Everyone has at least one good photo of themselves but do make sure that it is suitable for a professional network. It is worth asking friends for an honest opinion of your photo.
3. Start to connect
Find out which of your colleagues and friends are already on LinkedIn and invite them to connect with you. I suggest that you create your own messages rather than use the default settings. You do not have to accept invitations to link in with people you do not know but always respond with a polite message if you do not know the person.

4. Get Involved in groups and discussions
Find out about interesting groups to join. For example the network of professional social workers. This means you can ask questions, answer questions, link up news articles and other relevant information and you could even moderate a group.

5. Update Regularly
Keep in touch by regularly updating your news, interests and activities.
6. Get Recommendations
Having other professionals confirm your skills and knowledge is very powerful. You can  ask your colleagues, your manager, clients and even friends if relevant.

7. Accounts and Settings
Spend some time familiarising yourself with your account and settings. LinkedIn is a secure site but you do have choices about what information is accessible only to your network and more publicly available. You can decide how you wish to communicate with the world and how the world can communicate with you. Apart from my email address I have not included any personal information. You can edit your profile, your public profile settings and your contact settings.

8. Personalize your LinkedIn page
There is an option of making your public profile have your name in the URL. For instance, instead of you can change it to Go to the edit my profile page and change the public profile URL address. But be aware that this is also open to Google and other search engines, as it becomes your public profile which is accessible outside of LinkedIn.

9. Explore the Applications
There are a number of additional applications that you can add to your profile page. You can browse through the applications and find the ones relevant to you. Slideshare Presentations allows you to upload and share presentations. If you are a keen reader, you can create a reading list from Amazon and Events allows you to share information about conferences and events you are attending and interested in.

Questions or comments? Email

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New group launched for professionals working with children and young people in care

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Linked in 119x32How do we make integrated working in children’s services a reality? This is particularly important for children in care who require a whole systems approach for their health and well being. Their special needs are are at the interface of social care, education, health, youth support, housing and leisure activities. 

We have been looking for a way to connect professionals across the children’s workforce to network and collaborate, share resources and information and promote good practice. The new group offers the opportunity to discuss evolving practice and to exchange thoughts and ideas which promote the health and well being of children and young people in the care system. Join our group  if you would like to share information about policy initiatives, interesting reports, practice guidance, research and events.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas about the policies and practice which are really making a difference to the lives of children and young people in care.

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Can Gerry Robinson fix Dementia Care Homes?

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

gerry_robinson_presser_oct09-150x150A very timely BBC 2 documentary in which businessman Gerry Robinson explores what can be done to help improve services within care homes dedicated to looking after people with dementia.  I have always found Gerry Robinson’s  approach thoughtful and probing and I am delighted he is exploring an area of care which both requires and deserves more scrutiny. If you work in this area or are faced with making a decision about finding care for a person with dementia I recommend that you watch this programme which is available for the next seven days on BBC iplayer.

The Alzheimer’s Society states that ‘In less than two generations one in three of us will either have dementia ourselves or be related to, or caring for, a person with dementia.’ The significance of this statistic and the implications for society require a transformation of perceptions and strategies. One of the biggest challenges facing society today is the funding and care of older people, a growing number of whom will have dementia. 

“We are in the dark ages of dementia care”, “Keeping people alive rather than helping them to live”, “dementia farms” and “granny warehousing” some of the terms used in the programme to describe current provision. Shameful comments about how we treat some of the most vulnerable people in society but does it have to be like this? One of the major challenges with ¼ million people in dementia care homes is that they are mostly paid for out of public funds but run by private companies. 

Should we be shocked that anyone can buy a care home provided they have the money, do not have a criminal record and can demonstrate that they are suitable to be a “registered person” with the Care Quality Commission?  Yes the services are regulated but there are no minimum standards in terms of the specialist dementia knowledge and skills required. It would appear that homes are judged on their capacity to manage risk rather than the fundamentals of care which can leave residents spending hours just staring at the walls.

“Life could be so much better” is the conclusion from the first programme. It is not that complicated to make a difference: staff who feel valued and have additional training in understanding dementia, one to one contact and encouraging the involvement of family and friends and involving residents in the running of the home all create a more positive and rich experience. 

When my mother had dementia we were fortunate in finding an excellent home. I would have no hesitation in recommending Lakeside Nursing Home  SE19 2DR. The manager is passionate about ensuring that dignity and respect underpin the quality of care provided. The ethos of the home centres on the recognition of the individuality of the resident and the importance of actively involving friends and families.

When looking for a residential care home I always advise people to start by reading the latest report and quality ratings from the Care Quality Commission which provides a number of useful indicators. There is a big question about whether any of us would want to place a vulnerable person in a dementia home with a rating of poor or adequate and should local authorities even be suggesting this as an option?
The Social Care Institute for Excellence has an excellent online resource in the Dementia Gateway if you work with people with dementia in nursing, residential or domiciliary settings. There are lots of practical tips, tools and activities in the sections below that will help you with your daily work. Each section has been written by a national dementia expert so you can be sure the information and guidance is up to date and reflects what we know about best practices in dementia care. Another section lists Useful Dementia Resources where you can find out more about dementia, research studies, reports and policies, resources for people with dementia, carers and professionals

What training is provided for staff is an important question to ask when considering a dementia care home placement. Encouragingly there are a lot of training programmes available to address the skills and knowledge gaps identified by Gerry Robinson.

The Open Dementia e-Learning Programme is aimed at anyone who comes into contact with someone with dementia and provides a general introduction to the disease and the experience of living with dementia. This programme is designed to be accessible to a wide audience and to make learning as enjoyable as possible and so allows users to fully interact with the content and includes video, audio and graphics to make the content come alive. In particular the programme includes a considerable amount of new video footage shot by both the Alzheimer’s Society and SCIE where people with dementia and their carers share their views and feelings on camera.

Skills for Care have developed a Knowledge Set for Dementia Care. Knowledge sets provide key learning outcomes for specific areas of work within adult social care. They are designed to improve consistency in the underpinning knowledge learnt by the adult social care workforce in England. In addition to the knowledge set documents, staff can download a ‘progress log’. Both documents are freely downloadable at  Skills for Care. The progress log will be required for each individual worker/learner for each knowledge set. Individuals can keep copies of their progress logs showing their ‘signed off’ progress for their NVQ portfolios.

The Alzheimer’s Society provide factsheets which cover a wide range of dementia-related topics. The online sheets can be saved as a PDF or emailed to a friend.

The Open University has produced a free leaflet, Dementia Care: Sustaining The Person Within, to accompany the programmes. It lists the help and support available when making decisions affecting the care of people with dementia. Centred on the life story of one woman with dementia, the leaflet explores challenges and opportunities for good practice, from a diverse range of perspectives of people involved in dementia care. The aim of the booklet is to encourage people to ask: What is good quality dementia care? How can it be provided? What resources are needed? What organisational cultures are needed to achieve this type of care?

I have always believed that how we care for the most vulnerable members is the mark of a civilised society.  It is in all of our interests to ask questions and challenge poor and inadequate care services on both a personal and a professional level. I would like to see exemplars of best practice promoted and published by the Department of Health. This would establish a benchmark of what we should be aspiring to now and in the future. Public funding is an important consideration but is it the only critical factor in delivering quality care? Research which explores the link between costs and quality care would be a useful starting point.

What will it take to sort out our care homes? An interview with Gerry Robinson in the Daily Telegraph

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