As we look forward to 2016, it's helpful to reflect on the past 12 months...
Back in the spring, In Control published a report with Lancaster University using the Personal Outcome Evaluation Tool (POET) to measure the impact of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The full approach, questionnaires and findings set out an interesting picture of work to introduce the new EHCPs across 18 different services, drawing on over 350 responses from parents, 330 from practitioners and 36 from young people.
In July we published a new set of papers challenging those leading integration work across public services to maintain and increase the central focus on people and their communities, instead of system and process. Centred around the idea of 'a life not a service', the papers explored a new approach to integration, looking at the way forward in developing genuine 'whole person' services that start with the person and those closest to them in their community.
2015 also saw a report produced on the Gearing Up programme. Back in 2014, NHS England partnered with In Control to invite community and voluntary sector (VCS) organisations to take part in a community development programme to support local organisations in providing advice and guidance to those eligible for personal health budgets (PHBs). 30 local organisations were given a small grant to take part in the programme and took different approaches to raising awareness and giving information. The report revealed a great difference in readiness to move forward with PHBs and a cautiousness to working with VCS organisations. However there were success stories of building relationships and partnerships that eventually lead to an appreciation of the capacity, expertise and agility of VCS organisations to respond and the added value to the Clinical Commissioning Group of working in partnership.
Partners in Policymaking continues to go from strength to strength. 2015 saw a Sharing Knowledge course in Derby and All Together Better in Stafford, as well as a new development in Leeds - Partners in Children's Health - for parents of children who have long term health conditions. In October Lynne spent a week in Hartlepool working with young people with learning difficulties, some of whom were in care. Whilst the week had its challenges, the young people undertook a range of activities including live planning and demonstrating various person-centred planning tools, culminating in presenting their findings to a panel from the local authority. Lynne also spent a successful two days with staff members from Natural Breaks, exploring values and person-centred planning. Feedback from all Partners in Policymaking courses run over the past year has been extremely positive.
In October, the third POET report of over 500 personal health budget (PHB) holders and family carers was published, providing insight into their experiences. Detailing the impact having control over the budget had on their lives, the findings can now be used by the NHS and local authorities to assess the effectiveness of their delivery methods and to identify priorities for improving the process. Altogether, 302 personal health budget holders from 31 different areas across the country and 247 carers from 37 different areas completed the survey. The results were largely positive, with over 80% of PHB holders stating that their budget had a positive impact on their quality of life, independence and the way they arrange support.
Later in October we reviewed research done by the Independent Living Strategy Group, exploring the degree to which local authorities were following the spirit of the Care Act and its statutory guidance in optimising choice and control. Despite the Act's emphasis on those two key areas, the research showed that in reality, local authorities were not yet fulfilling their duty to provide people with clear information. We also published a document highlighting the key messages of the Care Act and the responsibility local authorities have regarding assessment, eligibility decisions, the definition of and entitlement to Personal Budgets, and the control people should enjoy over their support.
Looking back, In Control have hosted many successful events over the past year, including our 27th residential which took place in Watford in November. Drawing positive feedback from both participants and trustees, it brought together local authority adult and children's services, health services, voluntary and community services and provider services for a new, united 'whole life' approach.
November also saw the launch of an exciting new video on the In Control YouTube account. Aimed at parents, carers, practitioners, children and young people, it introduces POET for Education, Health and Care Plans through an easy to understand animation.
Work also went into producing 'Innovations in Dementia'. Starting with the current situation for people living with dementia before moving on to explore the range of ways to address this, the e-book offers concrete ideas and examples to those interested in driving a radically different approach to supporting people with dementia as well as their families. It addresses a number of approaches from people who have been leading their development, each offering the potential for a dramatically different and better future for those affected. The e-book is currently being finalised and will be published early 2016.
Finally, we finished the year by co-producing four new publications for health services and parents, covering some of the challenges faced in using personal health budgets for children and young people. Each guide drew on the expertise of the author in partnership with a range of other practitioners, exploring how to take personal budgets forward for children and young people with long-term conditions and complex needs.