#SCIEroundtable on community-led social care

Image by Nigel Wedge on Flickr
Image by Nigel Wedge on Flickr

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) yesterday hosted an event on community-led social care. It’s the first in a series of events they will be hosting over the coming months, and if this one is anything to go by the rest will be well worth attending.

It’s not unusual to have speakers at events make you stop and think. It is unusual, though, for every speaker and all subsequent contributors to share views that are of a consistently high quality, offer fresh insights, don’t fall back on lazy or repeated wisdom, and all of whom stick to time. Somehow, though, that’s what was managed yesterday!

It wouldn’t do justice to the richness of the discussion for me to attempt to summarise what was talked about. Further details will, I think, be shared; but here are 3 things I particularly enjoyed in yesterday’s discussion.

  1. We must spend more time and effort thinking about “scaling across” instead of scaling up. Another way of thinking about this is about spread rather than size per se. This reflection came from people recognising that approaches which are working may work precisely because their characteristics work at a certain scale. By changing the scale you then affect the characteristics. Rather, then, than fundamentally changing the size (through scaling up) the smarter thing to do is think how to replicate (scale across, or spread).
  2. The ingredients of what makes stuff work are, by now, relatively familiar (though by no means regularly recognised or understood). These include trust, good relationships, good leadership at all levels, a shared vision etc. But more than this, the way in which these ingredients are brought together – the recipe – matters just as much. What’s more, the recipe may change from area to area, and whilst the ingredients are necessary, they aren’t sufficient. This leads to the idea (and switching metaphors) of creating an eco-system in health and social care (say), rather than just a system. This gives a better view of the range, diversity and strength of connections needed between all parts of the system, as well as thinking about what those connections are between.
  3. Paul Streets from Lloyds Bank Foundation shared what they call the “3 tyrannies” of commissioning: specifications, standards and scale. I shall be liberally repeating this!

For what it’s worth, my own reflection was on this idea of the “deficit of candour” in public services. Whilst there aren’t honest conversations about what public services can and can’t achieve in terms of people’s expectations and what they’re willing to pay for them, it becomes harder to create the conditions in which an eco-system could flourish. For me, one way of bridging this is by highlighting what rights people have: if people are equipped with this knowledge, not only will it help to rebalance the existing distribution of power between people and professionals, but also help people to think how they themselves can use their identity and capabilities to contribute themselves to the eco-system.

Thanks to everyone involved in yesterday’s stimulating debate, and thanks for SCIE for organising such a great session. The hashtag for the roundtable is #SCIEroundtable.