Closing the gap between good intentions and real change

I was asked to be on the Archbishops' Commission on Reimagining Care (opens new window) as both a person who draws upon care and support, and as someone with caring responsibilities for my mum.  It was a very positive experience, and I think more should be done to give people with lived experience that platform to get their voices heard.

We took part in lots of engagement events online and in person, to gather different perspectives.

The Commission identified three main areas that need to change in order to reimagine care and support:

  • Rethinking attitudes to care and support

  • Rebalancing roles and responsibilities

  • Redesigning the social care system.

The only way to achieve this change is through the lens of co-production, having people who are drawing on that care and support working alongside providers, and commissioners to improve systems and rethink attitudes.

When we talk about rebalancing roles and responsibilities, the Commission suggests that there should be a National Care Covenant - an agreement that sets out the roles of everybody involved in care and support services.

I believe that all three of the changes above would require a really big listening and engagement initiative, because we haven't really done that since 1948 when the welfare state was set up, and a lot of people don't understand the area of care and support, which is often referred to as social care.

The report launched by the Commission is one of the pieces that make up the social care reform jigsaw puzzle. First of all we had Putting People First, published in 2008, which set out a direction based on people being at the centre of their own care and support with services shifting to become more personalised and community-based. 

This eventually led to the Care Act 2014, which emphasises the role of social care in promoting people’s wellbeing: a good piece of legislation that has not yet been consistently implemented. Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) was set up as a national partnership over a decade ago to promote greater personalisation and remind people that good social care should be about enabling people to have a life, not a service. 

TLAP has developed the Making it Real framework (opens new window) to support good personalised care and support.  Another piece of the jigsaw puzzle is Social Care Future, with its vision: “We all want to live in the place we call home with the people and things that we love, in communities where we look out for one another, doing things that matter to us”. Recently there was also the report from the House of Lords Adult Social Care Committee,  “A gloriously ordinary life”  that has kept the momentum going. The latest piece of the puzzle is Reimagining Care and Support.

Anyone who has done a jigsaw will know, when you first take a 1000-piece jigsaw out of the box it can be overwhelming but you need to keep the bigger picture - flourishing - in mind, remembering to look at the box, while not losing the pieces. 

If we think about it, what from the outside might seem insurmountable - trying to put all the pieces together - is achievable when you divide it into manageable pieces. The biggest missing piece of that puzzle is making sure that the voice and experience of people who draw on care and support is heard.

This report is a wakeup call; it shows there's a gap between good intentions and real change.  We need to think about how we can shift the dial from raising awareness, to making changes happen. 

What are we going to do with this report? What action? We have to make sure that this is not just a report that stays on the shelf. 

We all have to take ownership, I mean every last one of us, whatever identity we might have, we all have to take ownership by having that big conversation and doing something intentional that makes this a reality, and builds towards the future that we all say we want.  And we need to do this with the key value of Love, this is a word not commonly used in the context of adult social care.

I think we should make sure that every elected politician, including local councillors sees this report. It’s about focusing on the collective action of all of us because social care affects us all at some point.

Clenton took part in the recent Think Local Act Personal webinar on Care and Support Reimagined.  You can catch up on the event here.


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