Penultimate Deputy Blog – Spring/Summer 2015
After a little while away I thought the time had come to start to conclude the Deputy Blog series.
As I’ve said previously, change is something that affects us all: sometimes a bit, sometimes a lot. Sometimes changes are reasonably well spread out; sometimes they happen simultaneously. For me the last 12 months have seen an awful lot of changes, many of which I’ve reflected in previous posts, but in the last few months we’ve seen more developments that will certainly shape the future of social care in the coming years.
The first and most significant development has to be the outcome of the general election. With a majority government now in place we can anticipate the implementation of a raft of policy initiatives. Naturally the economic strategy of the government will also be significant, particularly as it relates to Local Government. However, there are other nuances to policy which may, in the longer term, have far greater influence on the direction of social care.
One of the threads in the election campaign, it seemed to me, was that of greater devolution of powers to cities and regions. Clearly there are different approaches in relation to the extent of devolution and the conditions that may be attached, however I think it’s likely that increasingly devolved powers and duties can be expected by Local Government over the term of this parliament.
Some of you may be interested in attending this event on 25th June. Booking here.
There were early signs immediately before the election of a desire by central government to initiate a devolution experiment on quite a large scale in Greater Manchester, obviously it remains to be seen how this experiment works out, particularly in relation to how the devolution of NHS budgets to the region is managed in practice.
But in a sense, here in Leeds we too are engaged in our own experiment with NHS organisations. In all my years working within social care, I have never worked so closely with such a wide range of NHS colleagues on such a broad spectrum of service developments and financial alignments. I’ve been fortunate enough to see some practical, on the ground examples of how this alignment is delivering practical changes and benefits.
I’ve written before about the South Leeds Independence Centre (SLIC) which is now in its third year of operation. Here, Adult Social Care staff work alongside Leeds Community Healthcare colleagues to help people recover from ill health and return to their homes. All our data suggest that the SLIC is proving very successful in achieving what it was set up to do, which is obviously gratifying – not least for the people who have benefitted from the care they received. It’s clear there have been tensions between the different cultures that naturally exist in the partner organisations; however, it’s also clear that people are prepared to work to overcome those tensions and differences.
At the back end of last year I spent some time with one of our 13 neighbourhood teams where, again, Adult Social Care staff work alongside colleagues from Leeds Community Healthcare to provide people with a more seamless experience of community assessment, treatment and care. My time with the team made it clear to me that we’ve made a start but there is clearly a long way to go in supporting all the staff working in the neighbourhood teams to drive change in communities. We need to make faster progress in terms of co-locating the teams in accommodation which facilitates integrated practice including better quality shared IT systems.
As an example of how I think this can work well, on Christmas Eve I spent the afternoon at Assisted Living Leeds (ALL), our joint equipment service centre based near Leeds Dock.
Here again there are health and social care staff sharing really good quality accommodation and clearly working in a way which is so integrated it’s almost impossible (you need to look carefully at ID logos) to tell who works for whom. To my mind that should be the aspiration for all our community integrated teams.
So, further and faster ‘integration’ of Adult Social Care with NHS organisations in the City? Most definitely I believe. Encouraged by a more devolved NHS? Highly likely. More autonomous Local Government structures? Again, highly likely.
This is my penultimate blog. It’s my intention to have one more published before I leave the council at the end of August. In the meantime, I’m trying to get round and visit some more front line teams to get your views on what’s working for you and what’s not. On my travels so far I’ve been really impressed with people’s honesty about how it is for them.
I’ll try and sum it all up in my next (and last!) blog.
Deputy Director, Adult Social Care Services