3 steps to Making It Real for DPULOs (#dpulo)

Personalisation is the driving force for making adult social care as good as it can be for as many people as possible – irrespective of their age, impairment group, or amount of money they have.

In a system as vast and complicated as adult social care, there will always be difficulties in translating this vision into reality.

To address this problem, the Think Local, Act Personal partnership has established “Making It Real”.

Making It Real sets out what people expect to see and experience in their experience of adult social care if it is truly personalised. There are a number of are set of “progress markers” – written by real people and families – that can help any organisation to check how they are going towards making adult social care personalised.

Making It Real isn’t a top-down, tick box exercise: it is ultimately a voluntary tool that empowers users and their organisations to ensure personalisation happens in their local communities.

The markers of Making It Real can be used by any organisation – a local council, a provider of care services, or a local voluntary sector organisation.

I strongly feel that Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations (DPULOs) have a key role in Making It Real. This role is in two ways:

  1. Leading from the front and signing up themselves to Making It Real and demonstrating their commitment to making personalisation a reality
  2. Using Making It Real to ensure local councils and providers are doing as much as they can to make personalisation a reality.

I’d argue this is what DPULOs do anyway – on both the “business” side (i.e. number 1) and on the “voice” side (i.e. number 2). But Making It Real would be an additional way of formalising these roles so that others (particularly councils) might recognise and value.

The Making It Real website has a couple of examples of organisations that have put Making It Real into practice. There are also some great examples of DPULOs that have already done this, too – including Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People and an exciting project in the north west region that is going to start soon.

The Strengthening DPULOs Programme will do more to understand how DPULOs can get involved in Making It Real as well as regularly promote what MIR is and how DPULOs can get involved.

In the meantime, here are 3 steps I’d encourage you to take if you’re a DPULO that wants to get involved in Making It Real:

  1. Find out more about Making It Real by spending 10 minutes on the website. There are a number of regional networks for Making It Real – you can find out if there’s one in your region and get involved by approaching the member of the ADASS personalisation policy network in your area (click on the relevant bit of the map here)
  2. Have an internal discussion – either in your management team or with your Management Board – about signing your organisation up (the steps to do so are detailed here) to Making It Real. You can get help with this by downloading other people’s action plans to see what they’re doing for Making It Real
  3. Contact your local council and find out if they’ve signed up to Making It Real. For example, they might want to use Making It Real to help with their Local Accounts in reporting to local populations on progress in adult social care. Similarly, if you know any social care providers in your local area you could ask them to. (A list of organisations that have signed up and a map of them is available here.)

In-house and external costs in #socialcare: a comparison

I have to confess that the words “Return on Investment” often make me want to roll my eyes.

This is not to say that I don’t think service delivery or innovation shouldn’t have some form of financial attractiveness attached to it in terms of better value for money or more for less.

It’s more that my eye-rolling is an outward expression of a feeling it’s quite easy to hide behind ROI as something that is very hard to robustly prove, either as a way of saying “no” or just to put off for a bit doing something someone may not necessarily want to do.

(There’s also a point here that it shouldn’t just be financial measures we consider in terms of value, but that’s a post for another day.)

Shifting on slightly from ROI, figures published by the English Community Care Association (via Community Care) on the costs of residential and home care provision both by one particular council and by external providers operating in that council’s area make for fascinating comparisons.

In older people’s residential care:

  • Gross total cost per week for external providers = £433.62
  • Gross total cost per week for in-house services = £839.20

For domiciliary care:

  • Gross hourly cost for external providers = £13.49
  • Gross hourly cost for in-house services = £34.19

Obviously, we should treat these figures with some caution, and remember that they arise only from one local authority (which could have a particular history which skews these figures).

But the gap between in-house and external provider costs suggests that, even for adjustments because of the methodology used, there’s an argument that external providers (most likely private and voluntary sectors, don’t forget) are considerably cheaper than in-house.

If anyone knows if there is similar data across a wider set, I’d love to know about it. In particular, if there is anything out there regarding voluntary sector costs compare to public and private sector costs, please let me know.