This article originally appeared in The MJ. Using a strengths-based approach helps people to live more independent lives and enables councils to achieve better outcomes for less.
This blogpost was co-authored by Joanna Dufton, Geoff Hinkins and Amy Long
The first episode of the BBC’s Panorama ‘Crisis in Care’ series, screened last night, was thought-provoking and moving from start to finish. Taking part in this programme showed real courage both on the part of Somerset County Council and those receiving care.
I watched the programme with a group of colleagues. Reflecting on the programme afterwards, 3 things stood out to us, all of which resonate with our own experience of working on adult social care projects with local authorities:
- Family carers play an amazing role and provide unconditional support to their loved ones
Carers UK and Sheffield University estimate that unpaid carers save the UK £132 billion each year through their exceptional efforts to keep their loved ones at home and living as independently as possible. Around 70% of carers are providing care that would otherwise be provided by the council – it is therefore vital that they are sufficiently supported in order that they can fulfil their caring role whilst living full lives themselves. IMPOWER have commissioned research into what works for carers, and are working with a number of councils to embed our findings into the way they work. This involves adult social care staff having different conversations with carers and helping them to think about how they can maintain their connection to others, through social activities or employment.
- It is nonsensical that health and social care are considered separate systems
Some of the stories in the Panorama programme highlighted the key role that the NHS plays in providing care alongside the local authority; the reality is that people’s lives do not fit neatly into services and funding blocks. Our recent research into what is driving poorer outcomes at the interface between health and care has shown us that colleagues from both sectors often have different perceptions about what support is appropriate for individuals. When conversations are focused on funding rather than an individual’s outcomes, creative solutions can get lost.
- Home and family life are central when it comes to maximising independence
All of the stories showed that home and family life were central to maximising the independence of those on the programme. It was heartening to see the commitment of council staff to keeping people in their homes for as long as possible – something we see on a daily basis when working alongside social workers.
The second episode of the two-part Crisis in Care series: Who Pays? will air on Wednesday 5th June.