Practical Guide to Care - Birmingham City Council

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Project description

The Practical Guide to Care is an accessible resource that provides practical information and advice to help adults understand their options and choose a solution that is right for their needs. It is a joint initiative between four local authorities: Birmingham, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

It is designed to help individuals move from the point of identifying that they may need care and support, through the process of understanding options, selecting appropriate services, funding and using care services.

It offers an overview of the main options available, practical advice on key topics, and tools such as checklists to help individuals to plan their own care. It also signposts people to other relevant sources of information and support.

Birmingham City Council plans to launch the guide in the city in September 2013, as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the issues involved in paying for care.

Who is the service for?

The guide is aimed at people who fund their own care in Birmingham, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. It is also useful for people using personal budgets, and for anyone who needs information about care.

Intended outcomes

The guide is designed to achieve the following outcomes:

  • A reduction in demand for high-cost care services
  • A better level of support that is closer to the individual
  • A means of ensuring the individuals are able to negotiate and access services independently
  • An improvement in efficiency for care professionals, as people are equipped to act independently.

Why is the service being developed?

The guide was developed to support personalisation, recognising that accessible information and advice is essential if people are to find services that meet their individual needs. As well as helping people become more independent, information that is provided in a user-friendly format also reduces the impact on front-line resources.

Research carried out for the council by Yellow Pebbles (an independent organisation that supports the development and delivery of information and advice services) identified a gap in information specifically targeted at self-funders. The research also highlighted the need for joined-up, practical information and support to guide people through the process of finding, funding and using care services.

Were the people who use services and carers and other key stakeholders involved in setting up this service?

Each of the four councils involved in the project has well-established forums and quality boards for engaging with people who use services and carers. Information from these forums was used to help develop the format and content of the guide. They also highlighted accessibility issues, and the need to ensure that information is available for people with a visual impairment or who have English as an additional language.

The four councils who are the main stakeholders in the project each provided an 'expert' to link in with Yellow Pebbles to complete the guide. These experts were individually responsible for sharing existing relevant content, contributing to the initial scoping workshop, managing local representatives of the target audience, providing feedback on drafts, and liaising with all relevant local stakeholders.

Has the service met the intended outcomes?

The guide was launched in spring 2013, and there has not yet been a formal evaluation of how far it is meeting the intended outcomes. It is anticipated that there will be a high level of feedback from members of the public, as the guide has been widely circulated.

Do you have information on costs or savings?

The guide cost £3,500 to design and produce. Making it a partnership across four local authorities increased cost-effectiveness, as much of the content is relevant across all four areas.

What were the learning points in setting up this service?

  • Work collaboratively with partner organisations, to build a strong foundation of ideas and knowledge
  • Agree on the key requirements of the project at an early stage, and stick to these
  • Identify the main features needed to make the content as accessible as possible
  • These may include colour-coded sections, photographs, an introductory page for each section, a list of key actions at the end of each section, to do lists, sample budgets, spaces for people to fill in their own information
  • Keep the design as simple as possible, both to keep costs down and to allow the content to be customised for local use by individual authorities
  • Engage an independent organisation to coordinate the project and pull all the strands together.

Contact details

Mike Francis
Project Manager, Birmingham City Council
Telephone: 07824 694166