POET - helping to put the 'human' back into services

By Julie Stansfield, chief executive, In Control

Disability or a long-term health issues has a profound impact on people's lives, not only on their own life but on the lives of those around them that love and support them.  The role of social services and the NHS is to help lessen this impact so they are able to get on and live a good life. However we have ended up with a paternal culture of delivering a serviceto people, rather than 'with' people.  It is now more of an 'industry' rather than a 'human service'.

Personal budgets are a tool that create the conditions for this culture to change. When used to their full potential they have the power to transform lives and ensure that people themselves are in control and able work with services to ensure they get the support they need, and that makes sense to them.

We have now moved on from the debate as to whether personal budgets are a good idea and whether they have a part to play in public services. Who can argue that more personalised support is a good idea? And it is clear personal budgets have cross-party support and will play a key role in the future of social care, NHS support and education services. But what we need to examine and debate now is how can we make personal budgets work for everyone, irrespective of postcode, age, social care group etc. in the way they're meant to work?

POET and the resulting National Personal Budget Surveys help us to do this. They are based on the real experiences and views of people using public services. POET now has a data set of more than 8,000 people and this has enabled us to look carefully at the kind of conditions that lead to people getting better lives through their personal budgets. We now have the clearest indication to date of what is working and what's not - in essence what councils and other organisations need to start doing and what they need to stop doing.

People receiving social services or healthcare have acquired a wealth of experience and expertise that is very sadly underestimated. Most people know themselves what might work and what might not. When their views and experiences are shared through tools such as POET this provides statutory organisations with a powerful performance measurement tool to check whether they really are making a difference to people's lives.

POET isn't just about collating the data, it's about creating and defining a new way of working in partnership with people, really listening to their views, taking these on board and working together to shape and improve local delivery of public services. When In Control uses POET to produce a report for an organisation on local delivery, we don't stop there. We work with that council to look at what the results mean, how they perform against other areas, to share and link up organisations that are doing things well, or not so well, so they can learn from each other - rather than re-inventing the wheel time and time again. But most importantly we work with these organisations to ensure they share the results with people and give people a real opportunity to work with them to improve local delivery.

If we are able to listen to people and then take action together to improve and change our support systems, we may start shifting back to a 'human' service that helps people get on with their lives.

Read our other POET blog posts here

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Last Updated : 28 October 2014. Page Author: Laura Bimpson.