A vision worth striving for
I believe that TLAP's vision is still worth striving for. It's about improving people's lives and I think everyone would sign up to that.
For me, one of the most positive things about TLAP is the involvement of people who use services, disabled people, older people and carers through the National Co-production Advisory Group (NCAG). NCAG is a strong voice within TLAP. We have seats on the TLAP board with Marjory and myself as Chairs of the Partnership, and we are conduits for the group. NCAG members can talk to us about issues, challenges and solutions and we raise these at the TLAP board. NCAG also offers an opportunity to hear from seldom-heard voices. People use the term hard to reach groups. I have done a lot of work with so called "harder to reach" groups, and they disagree about the term. They say, "We're here, it's not that we're harder to reach it's how you engage with us so our voices can be heard."
NCAG members and myself met to discuss our vision for the future of personalisation and TLAP's priorities. Primarily we agreed that TLAP needs to remain grounded around people. It should be about people, our aspirations, our hopes and TLAP should not lose focus; if things are changing for the better in some places then we should welcome that but we know there is a long way to go.
When I hear people talk about personal budgets and direct payments, I keep hearing about process, systems and eligibility. We can too easily lose the focus on people. I still have aspirations and hopes, I don't lose them just because I'm using health and social care services, I still want to live an ordinary life. So, for me we need to keep the focus on Making it Real as the vehicle we use to hear about what matters to people who use services and carers. I want TLAP to support an extension of Making it Real. We have more than 700 organisations signed up, but I would like that to be far more. I hope over the next few years we are able to develop more positive stories; because there's some great stuff happening.
Personalisation is challenging, but anything worthwhile is challenging and we should embrace that. For me, TLAP needs to be about real personalisation, not just about numbers of people on personal budgets or statistics. It's about real life; how has it enabled someone to have choice and control? I would like to see TLAP focus on the principles of independent living. It's about dignity in care and support, inclusion and wellbeing and, of course, keeping the voice of people who use services at the centre of everything TLAP does - what we call coproduction.
I also think need to look wider than adult social care, and towards support that enables people to live full and inclusive lives in strong communities. How do we ensure that happens? Of course everybody would say they'd sign up to this, so let's do it and not just talk about it. We also need more joined up work around personalisation.
We need to build links between personalisation and the wider welfare reform agenda and closer links between social care, health, and housing. And what clinical commission groups are going to do? It's really important that the community understand their role and how they can help us to live an ordinary life.
Personalisation can be strange. When it works, it's invisible, but when it falls apart you can really see the impact. Personalisation is everywhere, nowhere, unavoidable or hidden. What you see depends on who you are, your personal experience and people you know. So let's keep personalisation moving forward.