So it seems Spring has finally sprung, Easter has been and gone, and we are now entering the new financial year. A period of new life, new beginnings and new ideas. I always enjoy taking some time to reflect on the achievements and challenges of the past year – for ARC, for our members and for the sector as a whole, it helps focus my head on our work and what it should look like going forward.

Of course, the big, grey clouds of the sleep in crisis are still looming large. There is still no clear outcome or movement by the Government on this issue, and we are still waiting to hear the verdict from the Mencap appeal, which took place a couple of weeks ago.

But here I am now, imagining this is all over. Whatever the outcome is, we will eventually reach one, whatever that may be, and then that leaves us in a space where we may need to ‘pick up the pieces’, re-group and look at the social care landscape through a different lens. Time to innovate, create, and potentially re-build. Necessity is the mother of invention, and if we don’t secure the support from the Government we need, it will be the time to look at how to modernise services, to look at the current operating ‘climate’, how that lends itself to the sustainability of the sector and how efficient it is for all concerned – especially people who access services. It is time to look at new models of support, in fact not just look at them – to develop them, collaborate on them and implement them. That is going to take collaboration as never seen before, regardless of the size of the service and number of people being supported. The modernisation of services needs to ‘tick’ everyone’s box – commissioners, organisations and most crucially people who access support. Cost savings, more efficient ways of working and outcomes – proper outcomes that make a real difference to the quality of peoples lives will be the way forward. The exciting bit is to work out what that looks like and make it happen.

Of course there has been oodles of great work as part of the care home vanguards, the key now is to share the outcomes as widely as possible, so there are no longer just pockets of brilliance but, a shared understanding of the opportunities to change what we are doing and see the positive impact of that.

So that brings me on to impact. Measuring impact specifically. It can be so hard to do because social care isn’t about counting how many widgets we made last year, it is obvious to say, it is about people. A small thing that one particular individual might not think twice about could be the most amazing achievement for someone else. So how do and how can providers firstly truly enable that and then capture it? I am really keen to have these conversations with our members. In my opinion, it comes down to one of my favourite words – personalisation. Not just plans stuck in a drawer but real life stuff. When it comes to capturing it? That seems to be a million dollar question but something we need to get to grips with.

There will be a future for social care, there simply has to be – what it looks like is yet to be determined, but there is a future. I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, it must include innovation, personalisation and truly impactful service delivery.

If you have any thoughts, I would love to hear them. Please get in touch:

Kind regards

Lisa Lenton
ARC England Director
6 April 2018