Mar 19

Making social care reform happen

Posted: 27 March 2019

Three women in a parkSkills for Care CEO Sharon Allen reflects on how a domicilary care worker and a Consultant Geriatrician found common ground.

Recently I was privileged to join a number of colleagues, mainly from the health sector, at the Nuffield Trust summit. I’d been invited to take part in a panel discussion on ‘Making social care reform happen’ which was an excellent discussion, as were all of the sessions that took place over the day and half of the summit. It was very positive to have been invited to contribute, to have a session focused on social care and engage in discussions with colleagues I wouldn’t normally get to meet.

It was also very positive that the majority of the sessions had strong representation from women contributors and no ‘manels’ – well done Nuffield Trust. There was also representation from BAME colleagues although it would be good to see more at future events and I would strongly encourage our colleagues in planning future summits to ensure the voice of people who use care and support are also heard clearly. The organisers invited feedback and this was part of mine.

One of the highlights for me though at this excellent event was a contribution during the discussion at the social care session. Professor Tom Downes, Clinical Lead for Quality Improvement and Consultant Geriatrician with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, shared that he had taken a day’s leave last year to spend time with a domiciliary care colleague - a part of his continuing professional development (CPD).

Professor Downes shared with us all what a valuable and illuminating day this had been and how much he had learned from seeing his colleague undertake her role and the level of skill and care that she demonstrated. He explained how important it was to understand other colleague’s roles and to value their contribution particularly in respect to shared goals to ensure patients can remain independent at home whenever possible.

He was heartened to hear that new technology was being used to support his colleague by ensuring her location was always known so that if she had any issues she could be supported particularly in terms of lone working.This had made her feel safe and valued as a lone worker. She described how important feeling valued by other colleagues is and not being ‘invisible’ in terms of  the skills and contribution domiciliary colleagues bring to integrated care.

Professor Downes said that he wished he had undertaken this learning exercise much earlier in this career and how beneficial the experience had been for him.

I tweeted about this because I was so delighted to hear it and to have the point about the level of skill in the social care workforce reinforced in such a practical and clear way.

In the final plenary, I shared that this had been one of the highlights for me and was delighted that Professor Downes came to introduce himself and to thank me for appreciating his contribution. He shared a little more of what he had learned that day and what a powerful learning experience it had been. We both agreed that this would be a brilliant thing to encourage all clinicians to do, to spend a day with a local care worker, to understand more of what they do, what works, what the barriers are and how we can really work toward greater collaboration.

I made an offer in that plenary to all our health colleagues which I will repeat here. Skills for Care engages with thousands of excellent care providers up and down the country who would be delighted to host a shadowing day with colleagues from health and have this reciprocated. Please get in touch if you’re interested and let’s have more of this leadership in action.

And thank you once again to Nuffield Trust for taking that wider lens and inviting me because without that invite, this conversation would not have happened.