Keeping up the spirit - a Partnership challenge
When the Think Local Act Personal Partnership (TLAP) was formed it had, what was, and is still, a radical agenda to put people at the centre of their own care and support. The aim was to make sure they were the ones who could choose and control what they needed to live a better life.
Partners were successful in getting these principles embedded in legislation through the Care Act and shifting the narrative from one focussed on services to one about well-being, prevention, choice and control.
Eighteen months on from the Care Act coming into force, turning those policy aspirations and legislative imperatives into reality is proving more challenging than anticipated, especially in the face of austerity measures and rising demand. The letter of the Act is in place but what about the spirit?
From the perspective of the TLAP Partnership and the National Coproduction Advisory Group (NCAG), overcoming these challenges needs a radical change and not a re-arrangement of the current ways of doing things.
What is also increasingly apparent is that to bring about that radical change needs a more constructive conversation between the citizen and the state, at all levels, and in all areas.
So what do we, the TLAP Partnership, need to do to help progress personalisation?
Personalisation – a right-based issue
The Partnership has often been described as the moral heart of the social care system. If this is the case, then we are perfectly positioned to return the focus of the narrative to personalisation as a rights based issue, and not one of systems or process. That is the spirit of the Care Act and the challenge from NCAG members to us.
Currently there appears to be a widespread breakdown of trust between the individual and the state. Individuals do not trust the state at any level to make decisions in their best interests nor does the state trust individuals to make good decisions and act responsibly with public money. This is a fundamental stumbling block to delivering the step change needed.
One way of looking at this is to see it as a problem of power and control. When the balance between the power of individuals to influence the state and the state’s power to influence their lives feels uneven then mistrust sets in.
As a partnership I believe TLAP has a role to play in building trust and quality of experience in social care delivery. We can do this through modelling open policy and decision making by co-production. It’s in our DNA, we know it works and we know how to support others to do it.
TLAP also has a role in engaging others outside traditional social care boundaries to see that the challenges of supporting people to live a better life does not rest solely with one part of government, the system or society. As a partnership that unites organisations and people TLAP has the power to attract others to join the conversation.
TLAP has more than eight years’ experience and knowledge of what works and we know that by speaking with one voice the Partnership has massive influence.
The way forward
I suggest we work together to position the debate about care and support in terms of equalities, trust and parity of esteem between state and citizen. These qualities embody both the spirit of the Care Act and our Partnership.