Sunday, 28 April 2013

Behind the Leaflet II – Putting People First

Second in this series spelling out a little more of the thinking behind some of the bullet points in my election leaflet 

“Put people first in social services – the system may be complicated and cut to the bone, but that’s not a reason to make things confusing or even more difficult for service users”

OK – Government funding is such that health care, adult care, family support, education, the adoption service, benefits etc etc is managed through different funding pots by different agencies with different structures operating over different areas. Much of the work of social workers, health care workers, police, benefits advisers goes into multi-agency liaison panels, case conferences and general coordination of activities and interventions. And when things go wrong – the media and the politicians generally blame the workforce for not co-ordinating their activities better.

But all this necessary mechanism is just that – machinery for operating the system and managing budgets and resources. The people in need, the people being helped by these services, shouldn’t have to learn the system to get help. They shouldn’t be passed from one support worker to another according to how funding streams divide up the work, even when liaison between those support workers is great and they can signpost people to one another. 

From the point of view of the vulnerable and confused people – and their frustrated relatives – the appropriate help should be available from one or two people who can build up a good relationship. They should never be told “I can’t help you with that – you’ll need to get in touch with…”

The government has argued for better coordination between agencies whilst cutting resources, fragmenting services and abolishing the structures they co-operated too. I’m suggesting something a bit different – more like a ‘personal shopper’ system.

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