Why all councils need to be self-aware

Jon Rouse, Director General of Social Care, Local Government and Partnerships for the Department of Health writes this guest blog post for us.

As Director General of Social Care at the Department of Health you would expect me to think policy is important - and I do. We are now well into the preparation period for implementation of the Care Act. Last week saw the publication of the statutory regulations and guidance. The guidance is very important in setting out how the Act needs to be delivered in practice to make the policy intention of personalisation and well-being a reality for people. And yet I know that it is what people do on the ground in localities that matters most. With personal budgets at the core of the Act, it is crucial that local managers, professionals and people using social care work in co-production to improve delivery.

That is why I am a fan of POET. By checking directly with people using personal budgets and their family carers it provides vital information about outcomes, processes and experience, while allowing localities to compare themselves with other councils. In the appendix to the current report Leeds describe how they used the POET data with local professionals and people - identifying improvements that could be made and developing and delivering a plan to make them - including as part of their Making it Real plan.

The National Personal Budget survey shows us both that personal budgets can make a big difference in people's lives but also that there is too much variation from place to place. Analysis of the survey data shows that key things that improve outcomes - including reducing bureaucracy, involving people properly in planning,  flexible use of the budgets - come at no or low cost. Councils really need to use this learning at a local level.

I am pleased to see that 40 councils are using POET this year so far with more coming on stream over coming months, with support from DH and some regional ADASS branches. I remain concerned, however, that more than half of councils are not engaged - if these councils are not using POET to check results with local people and make comparisons with others I do wonder how they are making sure that they are self-aware and using this to keep improving. I would therefore encourage all Directors of Adult Social Services to take up the offer of support in the coming months. Here is a link for interested councils to find out how.

Read our other POET blog posts here.

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