Leicester City Council has committed to Making it Real, Think Local Act Personal’s framework for good care and support. Mo Peberdy and Anna Severwright, two Leicester residents who draw on social care, and Lyn Knights, Adult Social Care Manager, describe how this new approach is making a difference to all their lives.
Just when you are most vulnerable you have to share intimate personal details with a complete stranger. Try to think what that feels like. Think about the most embarrassing thing possible about yourself and then imagine the next time a stranger knocks on your door you have to tell them all about it in minute detail.
On top of that, reams of paperwork, countless questions and people telling you what you need, what you can have, how you will have it and when. You feel you are drowning and engulfed in fear, dread and pain and you just want it over and done with.
This is a typical person’s experiences of adult social care. It certainly was mine. But at Leicester it is now different. There is change. Little changes at first with a big impact. A focus on co-production, working with those who experience the process, and asking them what they would like, how they would like it delivered and by whom.
It is early days, but as a person who receives support, I have been proud to be part of this process. I have already seen the power the changes have had, how everyone feels better about the work they are doing and people are happier with the support they receive.
Best of all, there’s often not a financial cost, it’s about being more creative with the current package of care, being flexible, innovative and having the time to spend with the person talking to them and finding out what really makes them happy.
“I can live the life I want and do the things that are important to me as independently as possible” is the first I statement in TLAP’s Making It Real. And my favourite. Because often for people like myself, many choices or things that are important are removed from us when we enter ‘serviceland’.
One of the first things we worked on together was the review form. Lyn, from the council, listened and heard that we kept having to repeat ourselves every year, completing a form focussed on tasks such as washing and dressing. She heard that we were scared that our care was going to be cut at review time. Now the form is largely blank and starts with ‘what matters to you?’, totally shifting the conversation and focus.
My review felt very different this year. Instead of having to go back over the practical day to day tasks, I could talk about what I wanted to achieve and how I could start to get there. My budget hasn’t increased but I have been given some flexibility in how I use it so it makes sense in my life. I feel more in control.
For me co-production and good social care is all about trust, power and relationships. It took time to build trust and we felt really heard. Similarly, workers will need to build trust with an individual or family, really listen to what matters to them and then work with the person to co-produce their support.
Lyn concludes “this change in the council’s approach matters because we want to know that people drawing on care and support are doing the things that are important to them, and how we can better support them to achieve that.”