I have a tendency to fly kites, or so I am told. I don’t think it was meant necessarily as a compliment but I've taken it as one. I like strategic commissioning and improvement work, you need to be creative and innovative. Innovation is the delivery of creativity, flying kites is the way to get a good idea heard and then delivered to achieve that innovation. We need to find ways to help people fly kites since those of us that are central to planning and commissioning don’t have all the creativity that is needed for the future. Certainly that includes staff but also members of the public.
I’ve spent the last few weeks doing a ‘supermarket sweep’. This hasn’t involved running round the aisles bagging lots of goodies but running between many of the supermarkets in Angus. I’ve put up a stand covered in information about our new draft strategic commissioning plan, pulled up a banner and; clip board in hand, approached many members of the public to ask them their views about our new vision, how we get more people to be involved in what we do and what the public think they can do to make a difference. Listening to the public always feels like a good use of time. For a start it challenges my use of jargon and more importantly reminds me that the biggest improvements in health and social care we will deliver in the future will come from working in partnership with people who use services and those who don’t. I've also heard some simple ideas that once I've done a little more work on them might give me some new kites to fly; like good ideas they do come in all shapes and sizes.
One of the people I met was a former colleague, now about 80 years old, keeping active and working in her community to support older people around her; she is still making a real difference. We had a few minutes to reflect on how far we have come over the last nearly 30 years since the NHS and Community Care Act 1990. The first legislative call for working together led to a major shift in the balance of care; creating services and accommodation in our communities and closing huge NHS institutions that accommodated people with learning disability and people with mental ill health, eventually reducing long stay hospital wards for older people. We talked about the ideas generated and the creativity and innovation we have seen in getting from where we were to where we are now. We discussed a future for health and social care. This needs to be about what we can do for ourselves, taking responsibility for our own wellbeing and, like she already does, being actively involved in our community. She reminded me that health promotion used to have slogan that talked about adding life to years, not just adding years to life. We talk about it now as LifeCurve (AILIP). There is something which draws me back to the importance of conversations with the public and how they need to be involved to make the difference in the future. This is a feature in the Angus plan and my conversations during my supermarket sweep have made this feel even more important.
The Angus draft plan has been opened online by more than 500 unique non-NHS and non-Council IP addresses. I have to admit I’m feeling pretty pleased about that but would be very pleased if those individuals had gone on to complete the questionnaire. We’ve delivered a lot in terms of engagement over the past 18 months with a focus on our conversations, every review has been subject to public information sharing, discussion, scrutiny and influence in the subsequent improvement plan. The draft plan is a reflection of that. Still we need to do more to involve our communities in the future shape of services, to find some new kites.
What are you doing in your area?
Is it enough?
I hope one day to be retired and to meet the person working on a future commissioning plan, to reflect on how far we have come in what is the next 30 years and hear about what we’ve achieved with those kites that are yet to be flown.
Vivienne Davidson is Principal Officer of Angus Health and Social Care Partnership