Our latest deputy blog post by Dennis Holmes, Deputy Director of Adult Social Care Services, reflects on recent successes in our efforts to provide the best health and social care services.
A month or so ago, Leeds basked in the glow of early summer sun and the Grand Depart of the Tour de France. The national, nay, global spotlight was upon us. Leeds did a fantastic job in hosting the biggest event ever to hit the city.
Yorkshire looked brilliant as it became, for a week, the UK’s number one tourist attraction. Crowds of onlookers flocked to see the race flash by and share the moment. I was one of them and it was amazing!
That was then, now all the talk is of ‘legacy’, maintaining the momentum and ensuring the city doesn’t let the opportunity to build on this amazing event slip through our fingers.
When I was attempting to manoeuvre my way through the crowds that packed Saturday morning, it occurred to me that our Adult Social Care journey over the past year or so has been like Le Tour in some ways.
We have had a great twelve months. Starting with Sandie Keene becoming the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services’ President in the year the Care Bill was going through parliament. Leeds began to feel the warmth of the spotlight as she began to deliver her first TV and radio interviews, rapidly becoming a fantastic ambassador showcasing our successes on the national stage.
Meanwhile, we were creating the build-up to our own social care Grand Depart in the concerted, sometimes frenzied work colleagues were doing in our application to become a Pioneer City for integration between health and social care services. Our work with the voluntary sector was becoming nationally recognised for progressive developments in delivering social care through social prescribing and third-sector commissioning. We have signed up to become a dementia friendly city, now recognised by the World Health Organisation, no less!
Shortly after The Department of Health announced we were indeed a Pioneer city, we were also informed we had been selected as an Exemplar Authority to help with the national process to unravel the intricacies of the Better Care Fund (BCF) by ‘fast-tracking’ the BCF in Leeds to help other health and social care communities see how it could be done.
Big Society Capital chose Leeds to launch its first £1m investment in social care services; that got big media coverage in the Guardian and recently we featured on Newsnight in a feature about how our staff organise dignified funerals for people who die alone with no-one else to sort out their affairs.
Alongside all that, ministerial and shadow ministerial visits came and went. Westminster and Whitehall were keen to see what makes this pioneering, exemplar, fast tracking, progressive city ‘tick’, to the extent that we are globally recognised! That’s when it hits home that Leeds’s success is being noticed!
But, like the Tour de France, the trick now will be not only to maintain our position in the limelight, but also to give it substance.
It’s too easy to believe the hype, too easy to bask in the limelight. That’s why, to maintain our position, we must turn to our greatest critics – ourselves – to ensure our good reputation is well-deserved and terms applied to us such as ‘pioneer’, ‘exemplar’ and ‘progressive’ ring true.
We will know that our innovations are sustainable when we can put our hands on our hearts and know that we can back our reputation with solid evidence. I’m the first to admit, it’s fun being in the limelight. But I think you’d agree it’s far more satisfying to know that any improvements we’ve made are built to last and that they make a real difference in the life of our city.
Until next time…