What’s your background?
I qualified as a social worker in 1982, I’ve worked for Nottinghamshire County Council for 32 years and became a Director in 2005. I’ve held varied roles: managing a team in a multi-disciplinary mental health setting – which was an interface between health and social care (h&sc); Board member of a Clinical Commissioning Group; and have a Master’s degree in Integrating Health and Social Care. I’ve managed most types of services – provider and commissioning and undertaken a lot of change management.
How are you finding the role?
It’s an incredible time in social care. It’s a huge privilege to represent my colleagues and do my best for social care alongside partners and providers to make a difference. People ask me if the funding challenge and need to join-up services makes it difficult, but what better time to try to make a difference. I’ve hit the ground running, being Vice-President was a great introduction plus I’ve worked with an h&sc transformation group which helped with implementing the Health and Social Care Act, and has had a role in the Better Care Fund (BCF) work.
How do you feel about the Care Act and BCF?
The Care Act must be the most collaborative piece of legislation. The Government has shared responsibility with the Local Government Association and ADASS for implementation. It’s genuinely collaborative including providers, the community and voluntary sectors too.
Its focus on prevention, early intervention, carers, consistent assessments and eligibility nationwide, health and well-being information and advice, personalisation and joined-up services is supported sector-wide. The consultation on the statutory guidance is so significant, people need to read it and contribute.
It comes in tough times with the funding challenges and social care needs a sustainable financial system. It’s very important legislation, starting in tough times but a platform for the future.
The BCF is the right thing to put into place, though ‘joined-up’ services is a better term than ‘integration’. I prefer the National Voices definition, ‘person-centred, coordinated care’, it takes the service user perspective. If it increases choice and helps to keep older people out of hospital then it must be right. People are working together to get the best outcomes. It’s important for Health and Wellbeing Boards to oversee plans as it involves housing and community, needs can’t be compartmentalised. It’s about co-providing and co-producing; looking at how we spend all the money around people and the services they need, not just the BCF. We need to see success stories as it’s a major challenge to keep people at home and integrate services.
What are the challenges?
Sufficient resources to be able to do it all, even with creativity and innovation. Having an h&sc workforce with greater parity of esteem, training, pay, status and value. Having different leadership skills to work across systems in new ways and changing culture. Dealing with the number and scale of initiatives all at once.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
It was a realisation when I first became a Director – the most important thing in leadership is not what you know or your technical expertise, but the values you espouse and live up to.