I've visited eight adult social care departments this year, and talked with front line staff in all of them.
In April I listened to Harold Bodmer’s inaugural speech as he started his year as ADASS President. I wrote to my colleagues straight afterwards as I was truly inspired. Harold looked back over a decade of ADASS, helpfully showing how many of the key themes around social care are consistent, albeit with a new context – how much money is enough, the relationship between adults and children’s services, integration, personalisation. The long-term perspective and the idea of a constantly refreshed narrative to deliver consistent social change helped me see Harold as one of the true wise elders of the sector.
I reflected then, and have had cause to reflect much more over the last week, on the first time I worked with young Director Harold almost a decade ago looking at efficiency in adult social care. He was neither defensive nor precious about current practices, and interested in using the latest insight. We have kept in touch regularly and have been working over the last few months on the same issue in an updated context – putting a definite savings figure on a cultural change. He has been among the first to understand the importance of using cutting edge methods – like behavioural insight – to bring about the societal changes that he has consistently worked hard to deliver ever since his social work training in apartheid South Africa.
Harold is a sad loss to so many of us personally, to Norfolk and to the world of social care. Harold will live on, for me, whenever I find myself using new methods and insights to help councils bring about the same long-term change.