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Martin Routledge attends Local Area Coordination Day

Martin Routledge, our head of operations attended the recent Local Area Coordination Day held in Derby.

People from social care organisations and around a dozen councils heard from Eddie Bartnik, mental health commissioner from Western Australia (WA), who gave a personal perspective on how he helped to develop Local Area Coordination as the basis of reforming the entire WA care, support and inclusion system in the late '80s. The principles the programme was based on are in fact very similar to those that In Control and Think Local, Act Personal work towards: working toward services that are personal, local and accountable.

The difference between the current method of providing services and a Local Area Coordinator approach is exemplified by an example where a LAC worked with isolated and stressed families of disabled children. Rather than simply view each family in isolation and push toward counselling respite and advice, the LAC instead brought these families together as a group and helped them find an accessible leisure centre where they could take their children for activities as well as take classes themselves. The result was multiple: benefits to the children in being able  to access activities previously denied,  to the parents who gained a social network and a way to offload and speak to others in the same position and to the leisure centre whose staff gained valuable knowledge about working with and providing access to disabled people.

This approach - of involving families and communities in providing part of the care matrix is gaining momentum. It is a more holistic approach that is being considered in many of the debates and discussions on improving social care services despite reducing budgets. There is also growing acknowledgement that the current system isn't working in the way it should - enabling people to live the lives they choose, rather than dictate what they are able to access.

Recent work by councils such as Barnsley with their Strong Families, Strong Barnsley project and our own partnership project with The Mayday Trust, BU Be Amazing are already working involve family and community more and provide a more 'whole person/whole family approach. These projects helping to open up the debate around how best to provide services and how beneficial it is to include family and community in supporting those in need.

This is just one of many ways however, that are being explored to support organisations and councils to deliver improved services with reducing budgets. For example, the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham was commissioned by Birmingham City Council Adults and Communities to produce a policy paper to guide the Council's thinking on the potential for a new adult social care 'offer' to local people. Like the LAC method and approach, this paper found that there was a need and a desire by practitioners to be creative and imaginative when finding ways of meeting people's needs within a challenging financial environment. They found that many within the system were in many ways, calling for a return to pre-care management community development approaches, with workers who are based in local neighbourhoods able to work to nurture and release individual, group and community resources.

Meanwhile, early evaluations are showing that the LAC concept is, while still in its infancy, showing signs that this is a viable way to reduce cost to councils, improve service delivery, involve family and communities positively and most importantly improve the lives of people who are in need of support.

You can read more about LACs and evaluations of progress to date at: www.inclusiveneighbourhoods.co.uk. You can also read a blog about the event (Local Area Coordination Day) at http://alexfoxblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/local-area-coordination-a-different-starting-point/

To read the full policy report by The Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham visit: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-social-sciences/social-policy/HSMC/publications/PolicyPapers/policy-paper-fifteen.pdf

To read more about Strong Families, Strong Barnsley visit: https://www.barnsley.gov.uk/services/childrens-health-wellbeing-and-social-care/information-for-practitioners/integrated-working-in-childrens-services/working-together-in-localities

To read more about BU Be Amazing visit: /news/in-control-news/new-programme-%E2%80%98bu-be-amazing%E2%80%99-launched-for-young-people.aspx

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Last Updated : 12 December 2013. Page Author: marijke.hirst.