“Commissioning” for a Better Future. A Starter for Ten

This week Social Care Future brought together people from more than 20 council areas that have said they want to use the SCF vision to steer local change.
 
This Community of Practice takes place within a context of big challenges and some opportunities. Everyone here from councils is working so hard to help people survive the present really difficult times. Its hard at times like this to create much time and space for practitioners to senior managers to think about a very different future, let alone take strong practical steps towards it. But of course we must and we hope that this Community of Practice will offer a space to do this, with support from each other.
Thinking about the context the obvious one is the effect of cuts and financial constraints, in place for many years now. We have a policy context with some new things – reform and integration White Papers and the Health and Social Care Levy as well as policy developments in other relevant areas. To some extent it remains to be seen, for example, if any significant money flows from the Levy and how the green tinged White Papers emerge in practice.
 
At the same time, The Association of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and Local Government Association (LGA), in the past few years have been saying they want to see major changes to the existing ways of doing things and to play a significant part in making change. We meet with the Social Care Leaders group every two weeks – ADASS, LGA, regulator, main provider bodies, skills and development groups to explore this.
 
As well as challenges then there are opportunities in the context that need shaping and taking. We and others have seen a lot of glimpses of better ways of doing things being done or attempted around the country. We have seen co-production start to emerge in some places – with the potential for win-win results. We hope the Community of Practice can help to start to share some jigsaw pieces and to put more of the picture together.
 
Inevitably we will explore how local public services use resources and powers in responding to the support needed by older and disabled people in the places they have responsibility – usually called commissioning. Some have made calls for an end to commissioning – by which they mean taking very different approaches to deciding what public services do and how and how money is spent.
 
Whatever it gets called we agree that if progress is to be made towards equal lives for all, “commissioning” needs to be done very differently. Working with people who draw on social care, commissioners and support providers we can up with a “starter for ten” on what this might look like. Initially we did this as part of the Social Care Innovation Network but as that got impacted by the pandemic we are sharing it now. What do you think?
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