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.
Delivering complex adult social care programmes can often feel daunting for both the client and consultant – where do you dive in? How do you get a proper overview of what’s going on? And perhaps most importantly, how do you make the change stick?
These are the challenges that IMPOWER and our clients grapple with on a daily basis – thankfully with ongoing success. We have found that the key to getting to grips with an entire programme (from design through to delivery) is to be clear on the critical success factors and organise the programme around delivering them.
IMPOWER’s recent 5 Fast-Forwards for Social Care report does an excellent job of distilling this learning and insight, setting out five pillars of activity to achieve programme success and system-wide organisational change.
Reflecting on IMPOWER’s work with clients over the last few years, I realise that we have incorporated elements of each of the 5 Fast-Forwards in every adult social care programme we have been involved with. Here are some examples of their significance and use in practice:
- Reframing ambition – supporting adult social care services to redefine their vision to focus not just on what can be controlled, but on where there are opportunities to influence and manage demand. Key to this is involving staff in the work, through case reviews, behavioural observations and surveys – so that it is easier to express the ambition in a way that is meaningful to frontline teams.
- Delivering at the frontline – the engine room of our programmes has always been to work alongside frontline staff, supporting them to have different conversations and drive better outcomes for the families they work with. This delivers a win-win situation – staff genuinely own the changes they’re making, and at a corporate level the work demonstrates that better outcomes cost less.
- Understanding and changing behaviours – this is key to every intervention that we put in place, and can make a profound difference. For example, we recently helped a council client to redesign the adult social care pages on their website in order to drive target behaviours. This led to an immediate reduction in contact centre calls and a subsequent drop in requests for assessment. A small change made a huge impact.
- Managing interfaces – work we have undertaken with clients at the interface of health and social care provides a good example of the impact of bringing partners together. Working across organisational boundaries helps create a rich picture of demand across local systems and enables the identification of key areas where intervention can be targeted – which opens opportunities to co-produce solutions.
- Managing trajectories – arguably the secret weapon of the Five Fast-Forwards. When a programme is able to illustrate how its interventions are positively influencing the whole system, delivering cost and demand shifts to meet a financial target, this is a huge step change in insight for system leaders. It tangibly transforms board meetings from painful examinations of risk logs into insight driven conversations that enable programmes to be agile and targeted.
I appreciate that these steps can feel challenging especially if, like me, you’re not naturally first in the queue to build up a project plan – but a good starting point is provided by our 5 Fast-Forwards for Social Care online checklist. Complete the checklist (or ask us to guide you through it) and we will share some comparative analysis and further insight into your progress compared to the national picture. Get in touch to learn more.