Social Work Scotland – Delivering on the conversation

The annual Social Work Scotland conference brings together thought leaders from across the country, in conjunction with suppliers such as OLM. Each year we have attended, we have been amazed by the dedication and determination of those we meet.

2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the inception of the Social Work Scotland Act and the conference took this as its theme. Confidence, commitment and collaboration were the focal points on which discussion resonated from. For us, this is the personification of what Social Care is all about, everyone being committed to the industry, working in collaboration to inspire confidence. We conduct our business in this manner and create industry-changing products such as the ground-breaking, Eclipse to make a difference, not line the pockets of shareholders.

With recent policy announcements, Digital was a key focus of the two days. OLM is already leading the way in digital supporting Scottish councils. Glasgow City Council, Aberdeen City Council and Dundee City Council are all live with our MyLife Portal and using our digital solutions to collaborate with their citizens. MyLife supports over 9 million citizens across the UK.

We are proud to be the only Social Care Case Management provider to have live portals in Scotland delivering change already, while the others are just talking about their plans.

Through our discussions with the Scottish Local Authorities, it was clear they were pleased that we have invested to be ready for the emerging future and are ahead of the game.

Predicting and managing demand in adult Social Care

Throughout the conference, a series of workshops were put forth by industry leaders, government officers and private sector representatives. These varied in themes presented, from Giving People Confidence to the one that we will have a look at now, Predicting and managing demand in adult Social Care.

Due to interest on our stand, we were unable to attend all of the sessions but took part in as many as we could such as the one entitled above, ‘Predicting and managing demand in adult Social Care’. The session was conducted by Philip Provenzano from the Institute of Public Care and Stephen Fitzpatrick from one of our Scottish customers, Glasgow City Council. It is a key topic and one that is paramount to the future of care. Resources are stretched to the seams and doing more with less is a day to day need for all.

The session asked many hard hitting questions such as:

  1. With regards to the footfall through the door, how many of these enquiries were solved and how is the service set up to handle this?

  2. Managing demand from acute hospitals - How is the response from the acute hospital managed and what are the outcomes for older people? 

  3. Effective short-term interventions for people in the community - How are the initial offers of help to people designed, and can they respond with short term help that may reduce or eliminate the need for longer term solutions?

  4. Designing the care system for people with long term needs - How does the way in which we assist people to help them gain opportunities for greater independence in the longer term. How do we assist people to manage their long-term conditions?


What did Glasgow do differently?

As an organisation they started by asking the question, ‘Do we need a different approach’? They realised that like a lot of other local authorities, assessments are usually undertaken at a time of crisis, which tends to skew expectations of what support was needed. This route tends to go down the residential care option as the default solution.

Evidence suggests that the wrong intervention at the wrong time will shorten lives and that care homes are not always the best option. The assumption is that care homes are safer and better for the individual than returning home, but this is not always true. This thinking stems from another assumption that older people only get worse with little likelihood of improvement. This is rarely true and is ultimately more costly for the local authority.

Glasgow Results

Glasgow City Council moved away from assessing at the point of crisis and decided to support more complex older people to remain at home. They moved forward on the basis that older people’s views need to be heard and that their desires need to be taken into account, they should not simply be placed into care as standard practice. To do this there needed to be a culture shift in the organisation and a new service model, alongside the promise to staff that default advice should not be to simply recommend ‘your Mum will be safest in a care home’.

As an organisation, they sharply reduced the number of purchased care home placements and the percentage of the population that are living with increasingly complex needs were moved into care in the community. This personifies the key tenants of person-centred care by keeping people in their homes for longer and listening to what they want.

They are now applying the same thinking across health.

Delivering change

We believe that change is a gradual process. It is an abstract opportunity that is provided to all but seized only by a few. The internet has provided every organisation with the once in a lifetime opportunity to change the manner in which they operate. To invest in the digital age, reduce demand and reduce costs or remain in the 20th century utilising costly communication channels. For local authorities, it comes with the tantalising tag of money savings in an age of dwindling budgets.

Our Partners for Change (P4C) Team provide effective change management through the patented ‘Three Conversations Model’. P4C has worked with more than 20 councils, using the model to show that social care approaches can work better for people and families, offer staff more productive and fulfilling jobs, in addition to reducing demand on budgets. The team has also led national and regional programmes for the Department of Health and ADASS.

We can help you to deliver on your conversation and make a difference. Contact us today.