This post is one of a series of reflections on the Right to Control Trailblazer work in Essex over the last few months. For an overview of the work, and an introduction to this post, please see the opening post of this series.
Essex is a big local authority area. There are approximately 17,500 new social care assessments each year and there are currently over 33,000 current social care users. All staff in agencies touched by the Right to Control totals around 850 FTEs. The question is thus: how can we role out the Trailblazer on the scale required?
One option is to create a multidisciplinary team that brings together social workers, occupational therapists, Disability Employment Advisers, housing officers etc. and ensure that everyone who accesses the Right to Control comes through this team.
But this approach has its problems: as the Individual Budget pilots of 2005-7 showed, creating small-scale pilots works fine but can often present an unrealistic picture of how to deliver the service and what the underlying challenges are. So the Right to Control could work at a small scale, but as soon as you look to extend it beyond that subset it becomes much harder to deliver.
The alternative is to offer the Right to Control to everyone from day one. But to do this all 850 FTEs across all agencies involved in its delivery will need to have been trained across the 6 funding streams available. The likelihood is that the majority of these FTEs will already be going through significant change in their own agency anyway, so creating this additional (perceived) burden is a significant risk. It’s also probable that each member of staff won’t need all of the knowledge straight away, so double training is a possibility.
For me, the answer lies in knowing the numbers. Yes, it’s true there are 17,500 new social care assessments each year. But there are only 500-600 existing ILF users in Essex (and we know that number isn’t going to grow). Similarly, the numbers of people accessing the other funding streams are relatively low. Thus, at the risk of creating a very complex Venn diagram, ensuring an early understanding of the overlaps of different funding streams, and thus those areas where the Right to Control will really come into its own as it brings together funding streams – the main area of complexity – is absolutely vital.
Doing this will ensure a proportionality to the approach is built in from the very start.