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Staying the course in adult social care

Oliver Barnes

In recent IMPOWER blogs we have outlined the raft of legislative, financial, and regulatory reforms which are coming to adult social care. We know there are people awaiting support from social care, and we know the workforce is under enormous pressure. Standing still and waiting for coherence is not an option.

A phrase I have heard a lot in adult social care in response to uncertainty is ‘staying the course’. To me this means that adult social care teams have a strong idea about what they need to do differently. The key challenge of the next 12 to 18 months is figuring out how this theory can be turned into action that will really impact the lives of service users.

For example, there is much ambition and enthusiasm to embed strengths-based approaches into core practice. This would involve creating a robust front door, maximising the role of community assets to make people more independent for longer, shift to outcomes-based commissioning, and proactively manage the provider market. However, forthcoming strategic changes cause major distractions, and some of the changes do come with significant risk.

How can adult social care teams navigate these distractions and continue with their transformation journeys?

Working in partnership with local authorities and health organisations, we have seen first-hand how the sector is ‘staying the course’. Our work with Manchester City Council to deliver the highly ambitious Better Outcomes, Better Lives (BOBL) transformation programme is a good example of this.

When launching the BOBL programme in autumn 2020, an initial survey of the programme’s leaders identified a lack of engagement from permanent staff, posing one of the biggest risks to success. After a year of Covid response and workforce fatigue, it would have been easy to delay the launch. But Manchester City Council pressed on, and we have stayed the course with them. As a result, BOBL has delivered significant impact for Manchester’s citizens whist achieving financial savings. A re-run of the success factors survey in February 2022 found that following the BOBL programme the councils permanent staff were much more engaged, which enabled Manchester to make the changes we had worked so hard to achieve, sustainable.

The council’s determined focus on delivery has built momentum, delivered results, and energised the workforce. Working together we have created an innovative approach to transformation, and the impact is clear: better outcomes for citizens, financial savings, and more resilient adult social care.

At IMPOWER we believe the workforce should be supported so that adult social care can deliver for citizens. We will stay the course with you, so together we can secure a more positive future.

Written by

Oliver Barnes

Manager, IMPOWER

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