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Sharing is caring: RIPfA event


By Bruno Ornelas, Head of Service and Safeguarding, VOICES


A key lesson to emerge from VOICES early work, centered on the importance of communicating with adult social care in their own language. We recognised that our referrals to adult social care often provided a narrative account of our customers’ circumstances, which were rarely acted upon by social workers. What worked from a communication perspective, was ensuring that referrals clearly specified how presenting needs mapped onto the ‘eligibility regulations’ contained in the Care Act 2014. As such, VOICES designed the Care Act Multiple Needs Toolkit. This provides a step-by-step guide to working through the Care Act 2014 eligibility regulations.


Many of us will be familiar with Rosetta Stone type technology for learning a new language. Developed almost 30 years ago, Rosetta Stone pioneered the use of interactive software to accelerate language learning and is widely recognized today as the industry leader in providing effective language programs – “Rosetta Stone prepares you for real-world conversations in your new language”.


In that sense, the care act toolkit can function as a communication or a language aid that prepares groups of workers, who may not have worked together before, to communicate and translate needs more clearly and succinctly in the context of the Care Act. Don’t worry, you won’t be memorising a long list of vocabulary, but you’ll be reading, hearing, speaking, and writing – only in your new care act language. That way, you’re ready for real-world practice conversations that don’t necessarily follow a script. You can download the toolkit for free via https://www.voicesofstoke.org.uk/care-act-toolkit/


VOICES were invited to present at the annual partnership conference for Research in practice for adults (RiPfA) which was held in Birmingham in March 2019. RiPfA is a not-for-profit organisation with a network made up of over 40 partners from local authorities and voluntary sector organisations. Through their network, RiPfA brings together academic research, practice expertise and the experiences of people accessing services to enable professionals across the sector to make evidence-informed decisions about the design and delivery of Adults’ Services. The theme for this year’s conference was to explore the interface between adult social care, housing and homelessness.


Since the Care Act was brought into force almost 4 years ago, VOICES recognised early on the opportunity that new social care legislation could afford people with needs linked to exclusion and homelessness and how those needs, in turn, impact on individual well-being.  Despite new social care law mandating that “any adult with appearance of need” as being “entitled to an assessment”, we were surprised that our referrals we’re being knocked back.  The emerging professional rhetoric often appeared to be backed by assertions that rationalised needs linked to exclusion and homelessness as a “lifestyle choice” and in so doing, perhaps inadvertently, served to perpetuate stigma around individual culpability and constrain multi-disciplinary working. However, we recognised that Adult Social Workers brought a lot of expertise in both assessing and defining need. Social Workers are highly skilled and trained in both understanding a person’s ability to achieve outcomes and articulating the impact that unmet need has on the person’s well-being.


Equally, we were aware that VOICES customer’s often presented with needs that were ‘atypical’ and not easily classified when set against pre-defined eligibility criteria. In particular when needs arise as a result of complex addiction which are rarely stagnant but often fluctuate. We also understood the impact that unmet need can have on individual well-being, often linked to a loss of personal dignity through rough sleeping, or a sense of losing control over their day to day life, including having their say in how care and support is provided.


Our invitation to RiPfA’s partnership conference was an opportunity to share this learning between VOICES and Adult Social Care by showcasing how more collaborative ways of working between different sectors was made possible by adopting new communication technologies in relation to adults with needs linked to exclusion and homelessness.


Through our work with Social Workers, we’ve recognised that supporting people with multiple needs often brings unresolved ethical tensions within the system back into the forefront. These can be overcome through the application of professional curiosity and effective communication by using the right language.


In the last 4 years VOICES has developed a suite of free learning materials with is accessible for viewing or to download via https://www.voicesofstoke.org.uk/care-act-toolkit/

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