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By Debbie le Quesne

Making it Real: My second most difficult job

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There are jobs . . . and there are difficult jobs, and my latest is the second most difficult job I have ever had to do.

Adult care in Dudley is changing and as part of helping those changes to happen, I have been asked to head up a Quality Group tasked with establishing criteria for ‘scoring’ services.

It’s all part of the Making it Real initiative – a programme bringing the local authority and other partners together to develop action plans to demonstrate to people who use social care it is becoming more person-centred.

I confess my initial euphoria is dissipating some as I realise the scale of the challenge ahead.

One thing I am sure of is that I don’t want to end up with a solution that produces mountains of paperwork for care providers and creates a drain on the council resources when it comes to analysing the findings.

So what am I looking at here? A blueprint for change that’s not top-heavy in administration and can be rolled out on a budget. At the same time it’s got to empower the public in making the right choices for care.

Whatever is finally decided it’s got to be something that says more that “this is a good home” just because the appropriate paperwork has been filled in properly and any system we use must not antagonise care providers either.

The last thing I want is for care home owners and community service operators to end up telling me it’s all too much work and for those seeking information to be misled.

Central to changes is that local people shape local services and that’s a great ideal. But how do we do this without over-burdening the council or providers?

At times like this a forum is always useful.

So I seized the opportunity to brainstorm delegates at a ‘Making it Real’ information roadshow where care providers, Dudley employees and volunteers had a chance to find out what is going on and have their say.

Three key questions emerged which could become framework for further debate. Here they are:

  • What evidence could registered care providers use to show they have processes in place which would allow them to provide a quality service?
  • What evidence could providers use to show the client value outcomes of their service?
  • How can the enthusiasm and compassion of the registered care provider’s staff be effectively measured?

All of this, of course, is a work in progess.

One idea was to present good scoring services with either a gold, silver or bronze award, an easily recognised rating system. It could be evidence-based and involve the local authority, service providers and, most importantly, the clients buying in to the care.

It would certainly help those members of the public who, with their own budgets at their disposal, want to know where to source good care.

Which brings me to the point of why I’m doing this. Sadly too many people still decide on a care home provision based on the quality of buildings rather than the quality of care. I get asked by members of the public to recommend care services all the time and this is a practical way I can help lots more people than the ones who happen to contact me.

Oh yes I said it was the second most difficult job. Undoubtedly my most difficult challenge was ‘in another life’ when I had to source a new uniform for 148 women of various shapes, sizes and tastes and, not to mention, two men. Not something I would willing ever do again.

For more information visit http://makingitrealindudley.org/

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