Norman Lamb MP on why you should be making it real

Former Care Minister Norman Lamb MP, supporter of TLAP and advocate for Making it Real, discusses his frustrations with the social care system, and why the Making it Real framework can support meaningful change.

We know that as human beings one of our essential needs is to have a sense of control over our lives. And we know that when people have choice and control over their care it has a very positive impact on their emotional wellbeing.  It is something we must absolutely strive to achieve.

One of the most significant reforms to care in decades

When I was the Care Minister between 2012-2015 I had the responsibility of overseeing the passage through parliament of one of the most significant reforms for many decades, which became the Care Act 2014. I’m very proud of the fact that it was a real example of co-production.  The act focuses on personalisation in two ways. First with an emphasis on the individual’s wellbeing, which was intended to be at the heart of all decision making, not only about the person who is receiving and in need of care, but also the carer and the carer’s wellbeing. Alongside that was the intention to give citizens choice and control over their lives, over the care that they receive, and to recognise them critically as equal partners in that care.  

Norfolk has seen a reduction in direct payments year on year

So what has happened since? I am deeply frustrated that the opportunity we’ve had through Care Act reforms have been impeded by a number of factors; sometimes by a cultural resistance to change, sometimes a demoralised workforce but we can’t escape from the fact that there is also a resource issue. By under-resourcing the system we have undermined the opportunity to transform the way care services work in this country. In my own county of Norfolk I have seen a reduction in the number of direct payments made year on year. I’ve seen personal budgets routinely trimmed back - often to the bare minimum. Sometimes funding has been removed of the very things that give people pleasure in life and that make their lives real and worth living.

A reason to be optimistic

But despite the financial crisis that continues to afflict the care system it is also clear that in some place some very exciting things have happened. We see places where care services work with people and with communities to build on people’s assets and strengths and not just on their needs.

When I was Care Minister I urged people to use the Making it Real framework and we included it in the Care Act guidance so it was recognised as a brilliant framework for facilitating a change in the way people were treated. I am still an enormous advocate of this approach. I applaud the adjustments and improvements that have been made to reflect the way that health and housing and care have changed over the years.

 I am hopeful that with the recognition of the value of asset-based approaches within the NHS Long Term Plan and which we would expect in the long awaited Green Paper on Social Care that the Making it Real approach will receive further endorsement and take-up amongst councils and providers.

Having a dramatic impact on people’s lives with Making it Real

Making it Real is simple yet it is also extraordinarily profound. It has been developed by people in the system and people with experience of receiving care services and so it is shaped in the best possible way by people who know exactly what they are talking about.  I would encourage anyone across the system where you are to make use of it.  You will see that by applying this approach you can have a really dramatic impact on people’s lives. You can change people’s lives for the better by giving them that choice and that control that is so important to wellbeing - really living out the principles that were at the heart of the Care Act.


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