Putting common sense back into social care
A report published in December 2017 highlighted how 9 councils across England, Scotland and Wales are transforming the way they deliver social care resulting in significantly reduced waiting lists, swifter processes, more responsive decision making, improved outcomes for people, much less time spent doing paperwork and improved staff morale. Community Led Support is different to other change programmes and it requires a different kind of leadership to steer it.
Led by the National Development Team for Inclusion CLS involves member authorities joining a national network of exchange, sharing tools, experiences and learning. In essence, it aims to develop and embed system and cultural change that supports strengths based, person centred and proportionate working. It is based on a set of 7 principles that are implemented in ways that are determined by people directly delivering services along with local partners and members of the community they are serving:
- Co-production brings people and organisations together around a shared vision
- There is a focus on communities and each will be different
- People can get support and advice when they need it so that crises are prevented
- The culture becomes based on trust and empowerment
- People are treated as equals, their strengths and gifts built on
- Bureaucracy is the absolute minimum it has to be
- The system is responsive, proportionate and delivers good outcomes
CLS involves using ‘good conversations’ as a default way of understanding what matters to the person, what the issues are, and what outcomes they want to achieve. This moves away from everyone automatically having a comprehensive ‘assessment’ but the system is proportionate, meaning that those who need one, would have one, but without having to wait.
The areas implementing CLS have found that for many people, meeting them in a welcoming community venue where they can find out what’s going on locally and connect with others has multiple benefits. Inviting people to meet for a ‘conversation’ helps not only manage demand more effectively by using time more efficiently but also, with a good, strength based conversation that looks to local solutions building on the person’s strengths, is more effective in enabling people to remain part of their community for longer, preventing or delaying the need for paid support.
Consistency across organisations is an important part of a joined up effective service and care and support providers play a crucial role. ‘Good conversations’ are part of the assessment process and can avoid lengthy paperwork and time consuming process for the person and the member of staff. Collaborating with other agencies and organisations to look at where unnecessary process and form filling can be avoided invariably delivers wins for organisations and for people who have to negotiate the system. Referral processes are one obvious example of this.
Working in an asset based way also means promoting independence and supporting the person to achieve outcomes that are important to them around independence and this is an area where providers can make a big difference, working with the person and their family and with statutory partners to provide the best care and support that builds motivation, confidence and skills to achieve outcomes over time.
Community led support is not rocket science; it’s about doing what we know we should be doing in services to provide the best social care system for ourselves in the future and for our loved ones, a system that is fit for purpose and that continually evolves over time as it is refined based on learning and evidence about what makes a difference.