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Key issues for the sector in 2015

26 February 2015

Lisa Smith, Research and Development Manager for RiPfALisa Smith, Research and Development Manager for RiPfA, writes about the priorities for the sector over the coming year, and how RiPfA will be addressing these with a brand new Delivery Programme of learning events and resources.

January and February have been busy months for us, planning and developing our next Delivery Programme. In fact we started a bit before January as we have been consulting with our network since October to find out what the key headaches are for the sector, and what solutions we can provide through our programme of learning events and publications.

Following that consultation process we have now firmed up our Delivery Programme for April to September and I’m really pleased to be able to share with you what we’re focusing on in our 10th anniversary year.

I’ve been reflecting lately that our work falls into two broad categories. The first, to my mind, is supporting the keystones underpinning good practice, such as good assessment, supervision, reflective practice and resilience. The second is the more topic specific work, exploring the key issues affecting people accessing services, such as our work around dementia or self-neglect.

Used together, this contributes to support evidence-informed practice in the design and delivery of adult social care.

Clearly the Care Act is looming large in all our minds. I think it provides some great opportunities for the sector alongside some real challenges, and in response to this, our programme this year has a strong focus on the elements of the Care Act.

Beginning with safeguarding, we’re producing a publication to highlight what we need to do differently in the light of the Act, supported by a webinar on the same topic. We’re also delighted to be collaborating with Women’s Aid to develop and deliver a workshop on Safeguarding and Domestic Abuse. This workshop will explore how to recognise domestic abuse and respond to it, in the context of working with adults who have support and care needs. It will tease out some of the key issues from the publication we wrote for LGA on this topic: Adult safeguarding and domestic abuse: a guide to support practitioners and managers.

This year we will also be looking at how adult services need to be involved in supporting young carers. From April 2015 all young carers will be entitled to an assessment of their needs from the local authority, to ensure they have the same access to education, career choices and wider opportunities as other children. This works alongside measures in the Care Act to enable a “whole family approach” to providing assessment and support. A “whole family approach” means making sure any assessment takes into account and evaluates how the needs of the person being cared for impacts on the needs of the child who is identified as a possible young carer, or on any other member of the household.

These changes will mean working closely with children’s services, and given our relationship with Research in Practice, we think this is a great opportunity to support integrated working practices. We will be developing a practice tool and accompanying webinar to give guidance on this new area and help to develop a joined up approach.

One of the many challenges thrown up by the Care Act is that of how we allocate resources. A Resource Allocation System (RAS) is a method of calculating what someone’s support plan is likely to cost, based on data from their assessment. This indicative budget is used to determine what they receive in the way of personal budget or direct payment and is reviewed at regular intervals to see if it is the right amount to meet their needs.

The Care Act, with its changes to eligibility criteria, means that Resource Allocation Systems will need to be revised, and alternatives to these systems must be considered.

We have previously provided support on how to use Resource Allocation Systems effectively, and will build on this in light of Care Act changes to produce a Leader’s Briefing examining and reviewing the evidence around current systems and alternative options. Our accompanying webinar will help leaders to implement changes in practice.

Whilst we’re focusing on what’s to come, we’re also aware that many of our topics from the past year are still key priorities for our network. With this in mind, I’m pleased to say we will be re-running our workshop on Involving people living with dementia, as it was such a popular and well-received event, so look out for new dates. It’s a great opportunity to hear about the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Programme (DEEP) and hear first-hand from people living with dementia about what works in terms of involvement.

Finally, it’s our 10th birthday this year. To mark the occasion, we’re doing something a little different with our Leader’s Forum, which will be a joint RiP and RiPfA event. Recognising our growing number of organisations with joint membership, and in the spirit of integrated working, the event will be over two days and will include tailored children’s/adult services break-out sessions, as well as shared sessions that cover the common ground.

As a slight preview, I can share that we’re continuing our theme of work around building community capacity for the Leader’s Forum, which I’m personally excited about. I firmly believe that the way in which we’ll deliver transformational change in adult social care is to properly engage with our communities and the wealth of resources within them.

And on that note, we are publishing a research review this year entitled “Re-imagining social care” due for publication in the autumn, examining what adult social care could look like if we threw away the policies and ‘the way it’s always been done’ and focused with fresh eyes on what the evidence tells us.

It’s 10 years since we first began our journey. We’ve seen some fundamental shifts in adult services and there is more change to come. We’re proud to be able to continue our work providing much-needed evidence to support to all those working in the sector to effectively deliver on that change.

View our full Delivery Programme.

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