A reflection of TLAP's work so far
My involvement in what was to become the Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) partnership actually predates the initiative. My memory of the time is that providers felt that their views were not sufficiently acknowledged, particularly by commissioners, and that they were not trusted. To successfully bring about transformational change to care and support services all the key stakeholders would need to work together.
In my view TLAP has matured into a significant partnership within the adult social care sector over the last three years. Through commitment and goodwill on the part of all the individuals and organisations that formed and developed TLAP the partnership has become an important source of leadership debate as well as resource development. However effective partnerships don't just happen no matter how committed all parties may be to the cause! I believe the reason that TLAP has worked so well is that it embraced an ethos from the outset of genuine collaboration through 'shared endeavour' and a partnerships of equals. I'm not keen on the term "co-production" simply because it sounds so much like jargon. Nevertheless it does convey something of the spirit of working together. This approach has sought to consistently put the people receiving support at the centre whilst equally valuing the contribution of both commissioners and providers. The significance of this is easy to miss. The potential benefit it brings to ensuring how services are developed get a reality check should not be underestimated. It is timely therefore to review progress of the TLAP partnership and reflect on what it has achieved so far.
Choice and control and independence have become terms readily associated with 'personalisation'. So too has 'self-directed support'. Arguably we have progressed beyond the early debates that characterised personalisation as simply the use of personal budgets. The best care providers now recognise that personalisation is a journey: a journey that results in the transfer of power. It is also about developing new relationships, finding new ways of working and ensuring that care and support is individualised and of good quality. TLAP has been instrumental in improving understanding and thereby in opening up the potential that follows from improved relationships. The recent decision by TLAP to establish a Quality Forum is, I believe, an important development. TLAP is well placed to assist in leading this vital debate to articulate what good care and support looks like, to map the wide variety of current quality initiatives and their implications, and to support the implementation of policy developments such as the recommendations of the Francis Report. TLAP has already contributed to the thinking around quality with the publication of a series of papers.
As TLAP prepares for a new phase of activity it is a useful reminder of the distance travelled so far, including the initial work undertaken under the banner of 'Putting People First'. This represents really important stages within major transformational change in social care. Realistically this is a programme of transformation that will probably take some 10 years to bring about completely. There remains a long way to go to develop a fully personalised care and support system underpinned by a more diverse and flexible workforce. The initial steps are promising but there is so much more to do!