Opinion

The times, are they a changin’?

Martin Routledge, Convenor, #socialcarefuture

The #socialcarefuture movement

Last November, 300 people gathered in Manchester – people who use social care, their families, professionals, service providers, commissioners, politicians. In common they all want a better future for social care – not just a bit better, something very different from what we have now. Something that brings health, social care and other support together but goes far beyond “service integration”.

In the last century investment in the NHS and the wider welfare state helped bring about huge steps forward in the health and wellbeing of our country. One result is that there are more of us today that require support to live independently in our communities and to maintain our wellbeing.

We believe that it is possible for us all to reap this health and longevity dividend if we change how we think about and approach ‘social care’ – towards the goal of health and wellbeing in supportive inclusive communities.  In Manchester we started to build a movement in pursuit of a change just as radical and ambitious as that which delivered the massive improvements of the past 70 years.

In our social care future, when we need support we will combine public and community resources with our own – shaping these to support us each to lead the lives we want to lead in our own homes and communities. We won’t be placed without choice into institutionalised places or “units” far from home.   If we live elsewhere this will be small scale, person centred, usually organised by local community led enterprise or business. We won’t talk about “beds” and “placements”.

Does this sound impossible in these times of massive cuts and frozen models of service? Our movement is starting from the position that we can’t allow it to be because it’s about us, our families, friends and neighbours. For about a year we have been gathering “glimpses of the future” – existing examples pointing the way towards what is possible. Jigsaw pieces of better approaches, spread unevenly across the country, needing to be brought together into one picture on the box. We have shared these here: https://socialcarefuture.blog/blog-2/

After ten years of savage cuts the system has had to find ways to survive, but in places has also become more open to exploring options that harness and make better use of resources beyond state-funded services. There is a chance to unfreeze the system and change it. So our informal, voluntarily led and organised network of people and organisations is determined to help big change happen by doing three main things:

  • Demonstrating attractive solutions via “coalitions of the willing” and exemplars, enrolling progressive professionals and leaders on a new mission
  • Changing the narrative – developing a “shared story of change” to energise the movement and build public and political support
  • Challenging the status quo and growing confidence through success

But to make this future real its going to be necessary to change what the public knows and discover what is important to them (us). From this we can tell a different story so that people encourage politicians to provide more money, to be spent on different things. We know that the way the “social care sector” talks about social care puts the public off, makes them feel nothing can be done. We have been working with others who have found ways of changing how people see issues – like equal marriage or keeping children safe. You can find out more here https://socialcarefuture.blog/2018/06/22/telling-a-different-story-to-win-public-support-for-reform-and-investment-in-social-care/

So – “Pie in the sky, never going to happen, ivory tower rubbish”? If you think that read no further. “Hmm, sounds really hard but wow, if only that were possible” – maybe get in touch? @socfuture

 

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