Cath Roff, Director Adults ＆ Health, Leeds City Council reflects on the year gone past and shares her thoughts and wishes for the new year ahead in a blog article that was originally published by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership.
Cath says: “ I write this blog wearing two hats – one as a Director for Adults and Health in a large city council (Leeds) and the other as regional chair of Yorkshire and Humber Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).
You may not know much about ADASS (or even heard about it) so I thought it helpful to firstly give you an overview of the work the membership do.
ADASS is the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services in England. It is a charity and its aims are to further the interests of people in need of social care by promoting high standards of social care services and influencing the development of social care legislation and policy. The membership is drawn from serving Directors of Adult Social Services employed by local authorities. Members play a key role in sector led improvement: constantly promoting best practice and learning from each other. We also play a significant role in shaping and commenting of key national policies, strategies and legislation. For example, we are really busy contributing to the Social Care Green paper, commenting on the relevant chapters of the NHS Plan and also commenting on the proposals relating to the Mental Capacity Act. Regionally we are currently doing a big piece of working looking at the working age adult population, trying to understand the difference in spend and unit cost of services and also how we can develop better services for people.
Much has been made of it being the 70th Anniversary of the NHS. What has had far less publicity is that it is also 70 years since the passing of the National Assistance Act 1948 which abolished the Poor Law system that had been in place since the reign of Elizabeth 1 and established a modern social safety net for those who did not pay National Insurance contributions. We now have the Care Act 2014 which is a welcome overhaul of the existing 60 year old legislation.
The Care Act is a progressive piece of legislation and established for the first time a duty to promote the well-being of carers, a greater emphasis on prevention, encouraging and supporting people to live healthy lives and reduce the chance of people needing more support in the future. It also requires social care to take a “strengths-based” approach to how we work with people with care and support needs.
I was really pleased to see how prominently an asset-based/ strengths-based approach features in the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Plan. By beginning a conversation with people about what matters to them rather than what’s the matter with them changes things for the better.
For a start it is a more respectful way to talk to people and not put them in the position of being a “supplicant” to the state for the “professional gift” of a service that meets their needs. It shifts the conversation to be more about working in partnership and that fits with the aspiration of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership.
As Sir David Behan says “From now on we will be judged by how well we collaborate” and for me I see that collaboration as being between local government and health rather than just social care and health. While social care has a key role to play, the influence local government has on the wider determinants of well-being should never been forgotten. I would also like to speak up for the intrinsic merit of social care that does its best to support older and disabled people to have fulfilling lives with dignity and security. Although supporting system flow is really important, social care has a much bigger role to play than just admission avoidance and supporting hospital discharge.
The best way to help people live as independently as possible, as long as possible, is to provide effective support in the communities in which they live. We can only do this together with the NHS, community providers, our workforce and communities themselves.
So, I am going to award myself three Christmas wishes:
- A future for social care that is financially sustainable and has a fair balance between the role of the state and the role of the citizen
- A future for social care that is sufficient to support a fair wage for all those social care staff doing such great job
- A future for social care that is sufficient to extend support to all the people who currently have unmet needs.
(And if I could sneak a fourth wish in, it would be to never hear the word “Brexit” again).
Best Wishes to everyone for Christmas and the New Year.
Cath Roff, Director Adults ＆ Health, Leeds City Council