How can Community Power create a brighter social care future?

Following the publication of the report of the Whose Social Care is it Anyway inquiry report Social Care Future is holding a series of gatherings and sessions to explore “Five Key Changes” in more detail. This session was in partnership with New Local
National debates about social care are dominated by funding. But we can’t stop there.
Today, paternalistic or transactional mindsets still dominate how we think about social care. It’s essential that any new national settlement puts the people who draw on social care at the centre.
New Local and #SocialCareFuture hosted this discussion on how to give real power to the people who draw on social care and their communities.
A video recording of the session can be found here: How Can Community Power Create a Brighter Social Care Future? – New Local
Colleagues from Manchester Metropolitan University Department of Social Care and Social Work (Sarah Campbell and Deirdre Duffy) observed the session and their analysis/reflections can be found below
Key considerations arising from the event:
  • Issue of Identity for drawing on social care – people do NOT identify as simply ‘service users’ – people are seeking full and fulfilling lives.
  • A social movement that is a network – driven by the grassroots.
  • A network responsive to what is needed and when it is needed.
  • A network able to be flexible and to genuinely share power.
  • The importance of bringing people together who have been challenging these entrenched models of care for many years, e.g. self-advocacy groups, mutual aid groups.
  • Events need to be chaired by people with lived experience and include more voices of people with lived experience of using social care.
  • Issues relating to how to ‘scale up’.
What do we mean by community?
  • We need to think about different communities – there is not one community voice – and therefore how to ensure diversity of voices? And therefore, also include possibility of dissenting voices.
What do we mean by social care?
  • It seems that the crucial element of this is that many people may not perceive themselves as drawing on social care but are in community activity or support. And as Vidhya notes many providers may not perceive what they are doing as social care but in some respects they are offering support. Arguably this is the vast amount of local small, grassroots, community organisations which are providing services / support – and this web of organisations across communities is not new – and in some ways what Social Care organisations like ADASS are now trying to do is capture and network and replicate this practice.
  • Challenge here is that people may need both in order to live an equal life. That for some people they need a range of support from formal services but there is also the need for informal support that provides more opportunities for joy in living.
Challenges for organisations
  • Many small community organisations have continual challenges with funding and often a lack of core funding.
  • There is often not the resource ability to provide for the numbers that want support.
  • There may not be the resource ability to manage diverse range of services.
  • Payment for staff – living wage/progression/training/value.
  • Enabling infrastructures that ensure people are able to access these services.
  • A more integrated web of provision centred around a person.
  • There was no discussion of the social inequalities that prevent people from engaging in their communities and having their value recognised: social capital as well as other issues around finance/literacy need to be considered.
  • It is very important to remember that co-production is not new and lessons must be learned from movements that have existed for 30 years or more (i.e. Mental health service user movement / Disability Rights Movement and so forth) – this was very clear within the questions and comments in the chat.
Analysis of the event and event chat:
Key Themes within event:
  • Importance of social connections and relationships which is what life is versus being provided services.
  • Social care that is ‘not’ social care.
  • Recognition that unlike the NHS there is no single model for social care – and that the recognition of diversity is at the heart of social care.
Power issues
  • No more top-down commissioning mindset.
  • Alliances need to be made that can give power
  • There is the challenge of professionals getting caught up in risk, vulnerability and capacity and this has to shift and catch up with people who are drawing on support.
  • Power needs to be relinquished and that is difficult. How can power be shared and services relinquish resource and power and there be a more creative flow?
  • Importance of gathering pockets of brilliance Important role of storytelling.
  • Lived experience has to be involved in every aspect of service design, policy making, delivery, training and so forth.
  • Importance of opportunities to contribute to community.
  • People are the greatest asset.
  • Slow shift in mindset that has to believe hat people can make their own lives better given the opportunity and resource.
  • To minimise risk – involve people with lived experience in planning.
  • Dismantle existing powers and get communities to do more – the challenge to this is worry around safety and who would be held accountable.
  • Challenge bad practice – speak up about it
Further themes from the chat.
  • Speaking up / being heard
  • Representation of social care.
  • Innovation / Doing things differently
  • Shifting power
  • Creating local power
Questions within chat
  • It is important to make links across innovative organisations – for example How does this relate to User Led Organisations?
  • How can we persuade our communities and LA to do things differently?
  • How can we support the establishment of micro businesses by people with lived experience?
  • Lots in the chat about co-production and its importance.
  • Conversation about how social care is talked about and represented is important to shift.
  • Discussion about the need for hyper-local commissioning.
  • “Would Stephen Chandler commit ADASS to working collectively on this agenda so that community power becomes business as usual across Las”?
  • “Over the years I have seen community-led visions of change via peer-led support and co-production being adapted, annexed and colonised by state institutions for their own purposes. How can we be confident that this won’t happen with these new and latest community and citizen-led visions?”
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