NHS Learning set day

Yesterday I attended the 3rd plenary day of the NHS Learning set as we design products, that’s briefing papers to you and me on emerging best practice and what each group thinks about the Health and Well Being Boards.

The first session was with my Learning set B2 – Collaborative Leadership to discuss the day and who would be doing what, I agreed to man the stand for a stint, where I talked to cohorts members about the products we are developing around top tips for people from the former PCT s, for Doctors about Councillors and for Councillors about Doctors; sounds simply but a lot so hard work went into the design of what to say and what not to say from each side of the fence.

The opening plenary session was opened by Cllr. Gareth Bernard to give t that LGA link, I know Gareth from my early days as a Councillor when we were both on the Leadership Centre Next Generation Year 1 programme together. He was joined by John Wilderspin National Director of HWB Boards Implementation who I had a long chat with a couple of weeks previous at the Kinds Fund event looking at a self-assessment tool for HWB Boards. Next up was David Behan, Director General of Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships – Department of Health, what a title. I have met with David a couple of times when a group of us meet with him and Paul Burstow MP to lobby about the vital nature of the Dilnot proposals. It can be quite a small world somestimes!

David spoke about the learning that was emerging and one of the things that truly stuck in my mind was his comment that it would be easy for the HWB Boards to slip into a comfortable scrutiny place rather than the place where true reform and change is driven; It struck me  how very true this is and I have spoken of the need for Healthwatch and upper tier authority Health Scrutiny function to fulfil those roles and for the HWB Board to ban anything that looks remotely like it from their agenda’s!

The rest of the day was a string of workshop sessions about the learning across the county and it struck me that on each subject area there was a genuine desire to succeed and a common thread to effect real change. Not to just become another committee of the upper tier authority, this is the real challenge before us to actually redesign the most sensitive eco system in this country!, no small order at all.

Baby Boomer’s Retirement

Last Thursday I travelled to the RSA in London for a roundtable session on Dementia, Care Services, Communities and the Big Society.

The event was opened by Alex Fox and Dr Craig Berry presenting a summary of a couple of very interesting reports they have written which you can get from having look at http://2020psh.org if you are interested in some of the thinking about public services you will not find a better spot to go and have a read than the 2020 Public Services Hub at the RSA.

Liz Kendall MP, the shadow Care minster spoke of the political agenda and how our aging population is just not a priority for any political party and she pondered why that is given that there are more and more, older people and they vote! I shared her opinion and we discussed how that might change as the baby boomers enter retirement!

The event was chaired by the always thoughtful Ben Lucas and Matthew Taylor the RSA Chief Executive was in attendance, he kindly ‘remembered’ Suffolk when I spoke and asked how it was all going!

For my part I pondered the nature of the cuts we all faced in public finance and the degree to which we do or do not have a ‘north eye’ on the end game of less money and an aging population and perhaps we were not being radical enough in our approaches, I mentioned the Feb cabinet paper I presented on Aging Well and the ACS Strategy and the first baby steps we are taking in Felixstowe to look at the community capacity and the way we provide support differently.  

At the end of the event the principle players being Ben Lucas, Liz Kendall MP, Alex Fox and Craig Berry made a short video discussion, please see http://2020psh.org/?p=956

All in all an interesting few hours spent discussing the wonderful world of national and local government and the services we need to be focused on.

Suffolk planning for future care needs

It’s been a busy couple of days, on Tuesday I announced the preferred bidder to take over the 16 Suffolk County Council Care Homes in the SCC cabinet meeting and have done quite a lot of media interviews since.

The key as we navigate the incredibly complex procurement process has always been to make sure that we discuss our thoughts with Residents, their families and carers and staff first and everyone else second, yet at the same time there is a legal framework that has to be worked through.

As was to be expected following the announcement the press were keen to know the answer not to the question where will the preferred bidder be investing and building new homes but where might be closing.  A reasonable question but one that simply can’t be answered yet, but I did make the point somewhat repeatedly that when that is fully worked through the very first to know will be residents, their families and carers and staff.

Throughout this process uppermost in my mind has been the fact that whilst they might be SCC’s Residential Care Homes, to those who live there it is their home and I have at times been dismayed at the lack of sensitivity to that, in some of the comments others have made. No one is more aware of the cocners of residents and their families and carers than myself and our officer team, that is entriely naturally and right and proper but in the visits I undertook to each and every home to discuss our thoughts, we explained why we need to change the way we provide and over the next few months I shall be keeping a promise I made to go back and to explain, in person, what we are doing.

Personally I thing this is great news, the Preferred Bidder – Care UK is an extremely well respected provider and the level of investment I will be able to confirm in the coming months is a good leap along the path we as a county need to take to make sure over the coming years we are providing the sort of facilities we would all want for our loved ones and ourselves.

Since we started this process, over the past couple of years I have heard a lot of words spoken by those opposed to SCC us no longer being a provider, much of it lacking rigour and I think some of that nonsense has been extremely worrying for residents and families.

This change will bring about delivery of new homes and an increase in the capacity particularly the higher needs end of residential care; something that we most definitely will need here inSuffolk. We simply do not have the capital needed to do this as a Council ourselves.

Above all else it seems to me that the role of the Council must always be to make sure we plan for our ageing population, deliver services as cost efficiently as we can so that we can help the maximum number of people and how we can be there to make sure standards are upheld, maintained and improved.

As the council stops being a direct provider it will be able to focus its attention on making sure that if you or I need help and support as we all grow older the County Council is there to protect us now and in the future. Along side the coming announcements we will be talking about the councils future role to help shape the quality we would all want for our loved one, ourselves included!

Annual Lakenheath Parish Meeting

Maybe it’s just me but annual meetings seem to come around faster and faster these days must be something about age but I prefer not to go there. Last night 20 people ‘packed’ into Lakenheath Village Hall, 20 people most of whom I know on first name terms and are the people most engaged in village life from Parish Councillors to concerned residents.

The great challenge it seems to me is how can we drive up the attendance and make the meeting more relevant to people in the village so they attend. A community meeting is about people coming together to discuss the issues they collectively have to deal with and I wonder if we could make the next meeting different perhaps with stands around the ends of the hall from the various community groups explaining what they do and how people can join, perhaps if we provide a cup of tea and a few sandwiches so people can genuinely make a night of it. Anyway I shall be talking with the Chairman of the meeting to see what we can do to make it more interactive and better attended.

For those people who did attend in my few minutes I talked about the challenges ahead , the way in which Suffolk County Council was facing them and what I thought were the key issues the village faced from the need to use the bus service that I had fought so hard to make happen; to the great news that I have secured funding to bring back the Matthews Projec team for a long running programme from next month throught the summer to engage with those young people in the village who do not get involved in other activities. I then spoke about the challenges facing FOLK the Friends of Lakenheath Library to get the usage of the Library up and more people engaged in what a great community resource it is, on the about me page I have added a link to the FOLK blog site for anyone interested in following there progress or who would like to get involved in this great project; to asking people to give me feed back on how the Street lighting switch off programme was working for them. I did really touch on my role as one of our two District Councillors on Forest Heath District Council because I knew that Cllr. James Waters the Council Leader and officers would be attending who did precisely that.

The issues around Lakenheath Hall dominated the discussion with them as people’s concerns that this once lovely Hall and grounds continued to be an eye sore were expressed. I will be speaking with the officer who did attend today to make sure that we better communicate the progress that is being made and I will be closely monitoring the discussion with the developers as they hopefully work to put right past mistakes.

All in all a very useful meeting but my thoughts are focused on how to make it more relevant to the community so we truly pack the hall for a really interactive night next year.

Health and Well Being Boards Tool Kit

One of the most interesting thinks I am involved in at the moment is the thinking behind the Health and Well Being Boards.

I am a part of the NHS National Learning Set work and sit in the Collaborative  Leadership work stream and we regularly come together to work on what in the NHS are called products which in the Local Government world are simply called papers and tools.

Whilst there is a great deal of controversy about the various aspects of the Health reforms; the one element that has not has a word of criticism is the Boards as I think everyone agrees they are going to be extremely important in the way in which the health and social care system improves.

As we roll out the work that will take us the better part of a year’s worth of meetings, virtual meetings and a number of workshop days I will post these on my blog for anyone interesting to go and have a read.

Yesterday I was invited to The King’s Fund, to take place in a slightly different day as the LGA and NHS do a body of co-creational round ‘Designing a Development tool for Health and Well Being Boards’.

The day was opened by John Wilderspin who effectively leads for the Department of Health on this important subject and during the course of the day we heard from a wide range of professional setting up Boards and from great thinkers such as Richard Humphries from The Kings Fund who speaks with great wisdom on how we move things forward. For my part I was one of only two Councillors there and it was a privilege to feed in some of the thinking on the Local Government side of things from a Councillor prospective.

At times this whole agenda seems a bit like the Hadron Collider in the two worlds are most definitely colliding and the learning about the other is quite fascinating. Essential I think it’s fair to say we all think that something amazing might just come of it but are not absolutely sure what yet.


There is no doubt that in social care we need to need to do things differently and that’s why I presented a new vision and strategy to the Cabinet in Suffolk in February and a big part of this is how we work better with Health colleagues and design a system for the journey the journey all of us will go on at some point in our lives as we need help for our Doctors, Consultants, Community Nurses and social care providers.

To be in at the very start of the journey is quite something and I hope my tiny contribution to the learning and shaping is of some benefit.

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