Jan and Julie met three years ago at a local authority domiciliary care providers meeting; both were employed within the independent care sector, were the lead managers for their respective organisations and had over 60 years of experience in health and social care between them. As managers of independent sector organisations they had no internal support, the buck stopped with them, and they became a support to each other… “having a like-minded person to bounce off was invaluable, and we soon realised that our joint skills and approach to social care made us a formidable team. Our respective independent organisations benefited so much from our informal partnership that we wanted to really pursue what we truly believed in” “Ensuringservice user choice and control, and a quality end experience really matters to us, we understand the wants and needs of people, and as importantly, their wider informal support network”
We are both forward thinking and innovative in our approach to social care, and have worked on many joint projects, most recently an independent reablement service. The statistical evidence of desired outcomes for service users that were supported to achieve full independence was excellent, and was comparative at the very least to the service currently provided by the statutory sector. This partnership is successfully underpinned by Julie’s knowledge of reablement and Jan’s knowledge of the development and delivery of training programmes, designed to meet the needs of reablement assistants and service users.The reablement pilot has been successful due to the commitment, drive, enthusiasm, personal and operational skills, and true partnership working between Jan and Julie, and has been showcased across the East of England.
What has become so apparent to us is that choice and control for people and their informal support network can only truly be achieved if people choose and then employ their own personal assistant.The service user and their family become the employers, create their own support plan, set the job description, set the hours of employment, set the rates of pay and then control their entire support system. The benefits are immense and really enhance the quality of life for people needing support services. Currently, alongside the benefits of employing a personal assistant are lists of concerns, some of which raise serious safeguarding questions. People feel vulnerable. There is no easy access to qualified and vetted PA’s, often a post card in a post office window or ad in the local paper is the only option. Interviews have to be conducted in a service users own home with complete strangers, how can the integrity, honesty and intent of the interviewee be assured before access to a vulnerable person’s home? We have put every safeguard possible in place to ensure that a ‘worry free’ process for employing a PA is available, and we believe that people will now not have to opt for second best, and lose choice and control because it is the safest way to have care at home.