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					Tower Hamlets Case Study

Tower Hamlets has chosen an ambitious route to tackling the challenge of
broadening the range of support options available to vulnerable individuals
and opening this up to agencies beyond social care. According to
Personalisation Programme Lead Sarah Ford, “„Transformation is something
that can‟t happen within social care alone”. In order for this to happen, the
needs of people who need support from social care have to be made integral
to the work that goes on right across the authority.

„Integral‟ is Sarah Ford‟s watchword. According to this view SDS will only
deliver real changes for people once a larger culture shift has taken place,
broadening the range of support options and dismantling the expectation that
these needs will be met by social care.

TH strategy begins by dismantling the current „Operating System‟ for social
care – characterised by the current in/out split between people eligible for SC
support and those not, and replaces this with a 4 stage offer - starting from
access to universal advice and information, through to low level support
options like telecare - then short term intensive support - and only at the final
stage do eligibility criteria determine access.

“So many authorities have focussed on personal budgets,” says Sarah. “But
what we‟re interested in is community change. Personal budgets are just a
different method for buying support, so what we‟re asking is „What is
transformational activity?‟, as opposed to something which just affects an
individual.”

“We always talk in social care about „how do we engage the mainstream‟,”
says Darren Ingram, Deputy Manager for Self-Directed Support in Tower
Hamlets. “Part of the reason for wanting to work with other services is to
check whether they are aware that transformation is happening. Are services
accessible? These physical barriers – placed by other services are the things
that stop people accessing their community.”

One instance of TH forging wider partnerships is the relationship that the team
has developed with the Communities, Localities and Culture (CLC)
directorate. Ed Wildish from CLC describes the early process of having
conversations with Sarah‟s department – “But we weren‟t really getting as
much out of it as we could have from a strategic point of view. We didn‟t really
have capacity initially”.

But as a result of these conversations CLC has now appointed a 5-person
project team to a project called „Transforming Lives‟ that will look at what CLC
is doing to engage with the social care agenda. The project and high-level
commitment shows CLC is aware that what it‟s doing needs to fit with
whatever „adult social care‟ is doing.

The project will look at three areas of fit –transport, public libraries, and
„consumer advice‟.
One of these, consumer advice, has arisen out of the need to have some risk
enablement as part of personalisation. Sarah Ford describes this as a highly
transferable model and thinks this approach fits within a new operating
system of personalisation where people have rights as consumers to high
quality services. This might involve introducing kite marking into the
unregulated care market – or incorporation of safeguarding elements, such as
CRB checks. This aspect of the project is about treating people as consumers
rather than vulnerable adults. Currently the availability of advice is limited - for
instance with helping people to understand what criteria they might use for
selecting personal assistants, whereas an extension of CLC services would
act like a form of trading standards.

Talking about the Council‟s relationship with CLC Sarah says, “The fact that
we‟ve got a relationship with CLC is the issue – because lots of authorities
don‟t”.

Part of the impetus for the partnership from CLC‟s point of view comes from
opportunities for CLC to provide services to people with personal budgets
further down the line. Essentially, CLC is a provider of services. Sarah says:
“We‟ve been doing things that CLC have been providing – and they can
provide them better – the social care budget is a potential income stream for
CLC.”

But to this argument – which she calls the business case, Sarah is quick to
add in the values behind SDS, „what we‟re trying to get mixed in is an ethic –
a certain set of principles for SDS – so it isn‟t legitimate for CLC not to provide
a service because there aren‟t enough customers for instance. Top managers
are driven by a set of values at Tower Hamlets and we‟re not just driven by
performance – what we‟re able to do is to translate our vision into a value
based mission – working in Tower Hamlets is emotional”.

 “It isn‟t enough that services are delivered in a better way so long as people
with particular types of needs continue to be dealt with separately”. TH has
grasped that the need is to change hearts and minds and shape the positive
opportunities to ensure that when personal budgets come online, there will
already be the capacity in communities to provide people with a good range of
choice.

Case Study - Idea Stores in Tower Hamlets

Idea Stores are the Tower Hamlets equivalent of libraries but combine a
range of traditional services with amenities going beyond the traditional
scope. Each of the 6 principal stores dotted around the borough contains a
crèche, dance space and space for complimentary health activities. Idea
Stores have been established as places people go to have fun and they are a
great success. Judith St John, Idea Stores manager notes that there were 2
million visits to the network last year out of a 280,000 Tower Hamlets
population.
The stores have sought to harness the capacity that comes from being in
popular places, to look at how they can meet the needs of vulnerable groups.
To this end they have weekly activities such as „golden time‟ for over 50s and
run a range of partnerships – for instance with a firm of solicitors that offer
pro-bono advice. Judith St John is keen to capitalise on the original reasons
people have for coming to the Idea Stores and encourage people to explore
opportunities that might enhance other areas of their life. She is keen that any
changes fit with the direction of travel within social care.

There are several other projects in development that suggest the even more
significant role Ideas Stores will come to play in future. One is a new transport
service that will bring people with restricted mobility to the library rather than
relying on the home delivery service. Joytun Akther, the project manager is
confident that this will result in people accessing a broader range of activities
than with home delivery and make possible the kind of outcomes that come
from social interaction; impossible if people can‟t get to the stores.

Another project that offers huge possibilities is the concept of a live
information database/networking website that will enable community and
voluntary groups to flag events and activities. The database could also
provide information on services, and even be the shop front for sites like
Shop4Support. Judith is currently looking at a piece of technology that will
allow the platform to utilise the personalised Web 2.0 technology and solve
the problem of information becoming out of date. The site could allow people
to offer up their services or skills in an informal way, facilitating the kind of
exchanges made possible through timebanking.


(Case study provided by John Gillespie)

				
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