The Green Paper

My think piece on the Green Paper is in the Guardian today:  Human stories will convince the public that social care is worth investing in

“More caring, social kinds of social care already exist. Some, such as Homeshare and Local Area Coordination, Community Circles and Wellbeing teams need scaling. Others, including Spice’s Time Credits and Community Catalysts’ micro-scale approaches, reach thousands or, like Shared Lives, are national. When people hear about these approaches, with their human stories of small achievements that mean the world, they connect with them. They see the value of ordinary life chances for disabled people or a good last 1000 days for older people. A green paper based on those stories could finally persuade the public that social care is worth investing in.”

Shared Lives growing faster than ever

We published our now-annual report on the Shared Lives sector this week. It’s full of exciting news, including that Shared Lives is growing rapidly, with 1,300 more people using Shared Lives and 900 new Shared Lives carers, since the first report. Many more people are now using Shared Lives for day support and short breaks, where they visit their chosen Shared Lives carer rather than living with them. There is a significant number of older people using Shared Lives and we’re really excited about the impact the model can make on current ideas about older people’s support services, which at present too often leave older people isolated and lonely.

The Guardian featured a Shared Lives household in the article about Shared Lives which helped launch the report. The article was very positive and began with the three young women discussing whether to go out that night and being encouraged to ‘go out and have fun’ by their Shared Lives carer, Lorna. The article ended with a comment from Clare who said, “I would be bored and lonely if I had a flat. I have a big focus on food so I would be overweight too. I wouldn’t have enough support or care. I would probably die if I was in a flat.”

This reflects comments from people who use Shared Lives who talked recently to people with learning disabilities working for Your Voice Counts, a user-led organisation which carried out an evaluation of the model. People said things like, “I love everything about my life with my Shared Lives carers, now I feel like I belong to a family” and “When I moved into Shared Lives my Shared Lives carers saved my life, I was depressed and being bullied before I went to live with them. Now I feel so much better.”

There were two sceptical comments Continue reading

Just part of the family – Guardian feature

Shared Lives Surrey features in a great Guardian piece on Shared Lives.

Since moving in with Alex and Greg, Clare has become rooted in the community, and made a strong network of friends – including reconnecting with people she went to school with. She has a big family, with “lots of sisters”, and sees them once or twice a week. “Since I moved, my life has changed. It has got better,” says Clare. “On Tuesday mornings, I volunteer at the Sure Start centre, with babies, and we do baby massage.” She goes to a community centre a couple of mornings a week, and is also doing an adult education course. And she has a boyfriend, who she met at a community group. “It was love at first sight.”

Full  article here.


Why we need the government to act on the Choice Review

With some of our partner organisations, we wrote an open letter last week to Care Minister Norman Lamb MP, urging him to act on the recent Cabinet Office review of choice in public services, which recommended that people should be free to spend personal budgets as they see fit so long as they meet broad outcomes, with the removal of ‘preferred provider lists’ and other traditional commissioning approaches which hamper start-ups, micro-enterprises and other innovators from competing with bigger, more established providers. There’s no point in having control of the money if there’s nothing new or different to buy with it. As reported in Community Care, we warned that without these ‘supply side’ reforms, the risk of personalisation failing in its own terms is high.

A great illustration of the problem is in this Guardian article about how council procurement processes left one social entrepreneur literally starving (at least around lunchtime!) due to their inabiility to renew a contract in a timely fashion. When the basics are so wrong, having an impressive virtual online marketplace for providers and a marketing programme to encourage people to take personal budgets will fall flat.

Our report on Ten ways to stop bashing -and start boosting – micro-enterprise shows how councils can learn from the best work of their peers and get this right, so that we can ‘Make Personalisation Real’, not just another box-ticking exercise.