RedQuadrant has successfully worked with two police forces in the last year to carry out feasibility studies into the roll-out of DRIVE, an intensive intervention for perpetrators of high risk high harm domestic abuse. The Home Office announced £10 million of funding in the Budget this year for interventions working with perpetrators of domestic abuse. This includes £1.1 million for implementation of the Drive project to expand it into new areas. Any Police and Crime Commissioner in England and Wales can apply.
abuse is thought to cost in the region of £66 billion a year in England and
Although both men and women experience abuse, it remains a gendered crime, more
commonly inflicted on women by men, with at least 27% of all women experiencing
partner abuse since the age of 16.
Traditional approaches to tackling domestic abuse in this country have for
years focused on providing support to victim-survivors and their children. This
has changed in recent years with recognition that, if we are to stop domestic
abuse in its tracks, we have to do something to challenge the behaviour of
perpetrators of high risk or serial abuse. Failing to do so allows them to move
from one relationship to another, wreaking havoc until the victim-survivor
manages to get away or the authorities take action.
is frequently provided by local agencies in the form of refuges; providing
sanctuary in the victim-survivor’s home (eg: strengthening locks, installing stronger
doors); a range of criminal justice measures and helping victims to seek safety.
Much of the caseload of a Children’s Services Department is taken up with addressing
the consequences of domestic abuse – frequently leading to child protection
plans or, in extreme cases, children being taken into care.
was recognised that criminal justice interventions punished the offender but
did little to change their behaviour which is frequently entrenched, stemming
from adverse childhood experiences, including witnessing domestic abuse in
childhood. Evaluation of traditional perpetrator programmes has been
inconclusive, with high rates of recidivism by participants. Concern that this
approach, whilst both worthy and necessary, didn’t help to address the
behaviour and mindset of the perpetrator led to greater efforts to find a
longer term solution.
response, a number of programmes have been developed to tackle the root cause
of domestic abuse perpetrators’ behaviour. DRIVE, developed by a consortium of
voluntary sector organisations,
aims to tackle high harm and serial perpetrators by challenging behaviour and
preventing abuse. This is a truly multi-agency approach, relying on collaboration
between police, voluntary and community sector, local authority, housing,
probation and many other agencies. An evaluation of a pilot project found that
it has led to the number of participating service users reducing their use of
each type of domestic violence and abuse behaviour – for example, physical
abuse reduced by 82% and sexual abuse by 88%. It is a
three-pronged approach consisting of engaging with the perpetrator, supporting
the victim and using disruption to penalise any ongoing abusive behaviour.
RedQuadrant team, with a range of expertise on domestic abuse and interventions
to address it, has worked with two Police and Crime Commissioners – one urban
and one in a more rural area – to evaluate the effectiveness of their DRIVE pilot
and to examine the feasibility of rolling it out across the whole police force
area. Taking both a quantitative and a qualitative approach, our work has involved
interviewing a wide range of stakeholders to find out their views on what
difference a pilot of DRIVE has made in their area; an economic analysis into
the costs and benefits of the scheme and potential ways of rolling it out, and
an analysis of their initial findings to see if these were likely to match
those produced by the original pilot being evaluated by the University of
Bristol (spoiler: it does).
Hester M, Eisenstadt N, et al, Evaluation of the Drive Project – a three-year
pilot to address high-risk high- harm perpetrators of domestic abuse, University
of Bristol, Executive Summary, January 2020, page 2.
In my blog in April I discussed how, because of COVID-19, local authorities have experienced a significant increase in demand for packages of support and an increase in people requiring support in the community as they lost access to their informal networks of families, friends and communities. To enable local authorities to respond to the most urgent and serious cases, volunteers, charities and third sector organisations have come together to respond to the crisis; food banks, befriending services, distributing packages, sharing creative ideas to reduce social isolation, etc. Organisations unified as we started trusting one another, and relationships between sectors are strengthening. This newfound trust has resulted in quicker and smoother solutions to immediate need as we see conversations between individuals and those who know them best. We can see communities, volunteers and third sector organisations being trusted to engage and respond with people they know.
There is the question of how councils will cope in the post-COVID world of adult social care, with the increase in demand, in business as usual community reviews and in people who use services? My suggested answer is to build on these new approaches of trusting providers, trusting care agencies and third sectors who have existing relationships with people. If we can trust them in a crisis, can we extend this trust into the future thereby extending and continuing this sense of community and togetherness we see now? As we utilise the resources and knowledge these organisations and providers have to respond to the crisis, can we see this as a new approach to implement in our services and practice? Can we simplify processes and remove some of the formalities and structures that serve as time-consuming and potential blockers to true conversation-based approaches?
Before the Covid crisis, we did some work with a London borough to research, coproduce and test a model whereby the third sector was able to carry out some of the statutory functions of adult social care. A public consultation with people who used services, carers and families were open to the concept, with reassurances around training and quality assurance with the local authority maintaining oversight and responsibility. Ongoing consultation with the third sector demonstrated an appetite for providers and voluntary organisations to be more involved in the statutory functions and the belief that doing so would improve outcomes for individuals that use services. Piloting, with high levels of face to face training, ongoing support, point of contacts for advice and training, provided evidence of the capabilities of the third sector to produce person centred, strengths based assessments and reviews with individuals which resulted in creative support plans and increased use of community resources as opposed to the default approach of formal services.
Public consultation and provider engagement and piloting shows us it is possible to develop and build on trusting relationships with care agencies and the third sector. The COVID – 19 crisis has shown that local authorities have turned to providers and the third sector to support them and it has been this joined-up approach which has helped meet the increased needs. Yet we can still see some hesitation around continuing with these trusting relationships. Why? Assessments and reviews are statutory functions. They are important pieces of work with individuals which require skilled conversations and person-centred interactions, a broad knowledge base to encompass, direct payments and financial considerations. And ultimately Local authorities remain responsible for these functions therefore it is understandable there may be hesitations around using providers and the third sector to complete them. The question then became; how do we reduce these uncertainties and support the development of these relationships with providers and the third sector?
As we suggested in the previous blog, this would require
training and upskilling of voluntary and third sectors: the Care Act is clear
that those undertaking assessments and reviews should have the skills to do
so. We have created a qualification
specification with clear learning outcomes and training modules to as part of
an accredited qualification to upskill providers, care agencies, and the third sector
across adult social care. Before we progress this any further, we would like to
engage with local authorities, providers, commissioners who are potentially interested
in making greater use of the third sector for assessments and reviews: we are
interested in working in a couple of areas to refine and develop the work we
have undertaken to date on qualifications in this space.
Reflections of the ideas expressed: Stephen Moss, Senior Consultant, RedQuadrant
In our second build back better in the days after session as part of an online gathering using ‘open space’ methodology, an interest group formed around this question:
What kind of leadership is needed in public services and how localised will it need to become?
A complementary question was merged with the first to stimulate the discussion:
What future culture, leadership attributes and governance is going to be required for local authorities where large scale remote working is a new reality?
The discussion was conducted online
via zoom in a breakout room with participants with a range of perspectives on
public services. The main points were captured on a ‘jamboard’ – a virtual
whiteboard set up to support the group discussion (sidebar). This blog builds
on the discussion.
Four broad themes of leadership capability
System leadership of place
(Leaders) willing to work with community empowerment and sustainability
Safe working: psychological and physical
This blog expands on the post-its (highlighted
in italics) to define a place-based, relational leadership approach emerging
from the lockdown.
System leadership of place
Street level support networks eg Wigan What does this mean for how we lead? How do we lead on a strengths-based model?
empowering communities and families to support parents and children
Public service leaders need to create a
different relationship with communities in the places they serve. This suggests
greater emphasis on asset-based approaches to development and building capacity
in local communities to strengthen local support networks and economies. Assets
include people, physical natural and build environments, knowledge, businesses
and goodwill. Studies such as ‘Born in Bradford’ point towards the need to
create ‘community readiness’ to tackle local social issues impacting safety,
health and well-being.
In places like Wigan, this is also about
re-defining the social contract between local authority and communities it
serves and how decision-making and power are distributed. We have seen during
Covid many examples of people and their communities creating new support
networks for more vulnerable people. We also cannot yet measure the impact of
lockdown on health outcomes in local populations; we have seen health
inequalities cruelly exposed, and the collapse of many SMEs and increases in
unemployment on the economic horizon. In this time of transition then, public
service leaders have little choice but to let go of power, regroup to ensure
the safety of the most vulnerable and look at how to work with each other and
their communities in new ways.
(Leaders) willing to work with community empowerment and sustainability
The discussion here focused on local authority
leadership however the principles apply to public services in general, as the
focus moves on to what is needed in a locality.
Willingness for LAs to do things differently and focus on empowering communities – Need right skills and values to do this
Understanding communities and building relationships
Local authorities as facilitators of services not delivering services
Leadership capabilities across the system/place – values based
Developing leadership across the locality – in
the community as well as public services – means identifying with the needs and
aspirations of that locality. This can be an essential part of building
capacity in the community to care and to resolve important issues locally –
care for the elders, dementia-friendly places, sustainable local economies and
climate emergency responses, resolving anti-social behaviours. As leadership
capabilities are developed everywhere, creating a coherent shared view of the
priorities for that locality becomes central to community development, the role
of commissioning and the coproduction of services that are relevant for the
Focus on relationships at all levels – trumps structure
This means collaborating to make change and improvement happen irrespective of formal organization structures. Good relationships between all parties at a local level will drive better outcomes than formalized structures created to ‘leverage coordination’ but where relationships misfire or lack trust and incentive to collaborate in innovative ways. Much time, energy and resources can be spent on ‘form’ – structuring coordination and complex governance – but the key point here is to pay attention to behaviours and interactions between people as the driver of alignment and cooperation to work effectively on complex local needs. Inevitably this will also lean into changing power dynamics implied by structure and organization boundaries and who decides on how funding is used locally.
A consequence of this approach is that public service leaders take a more relationship-based approach to leadership. To do this, Public Services leaders, often leading as ‘expert’ leaders in their field, need to shift their own locus more to the wider needs of the local system. Essential to this shift, they need
Reflection time needed to step back from crisis management
the psychological and mental pressures of complexity and the syndrome of ‘over responsibility’ felt by public service leaders is exacerbated by a funding and professional expertise operating model that leans into crisis management as a default setting. Reflection time as a leadership practice, creates the mental and emotional space to change the leadership approach to one that is more relational:
Move from ‘fixing’ to enabling – leaders have to believe in doing things differently and (be more) relationship based
this represents a shift to a non-hierarchical/non-patriarchal model of leadership, moving away from the dynamic of control and rescuing – moving towards enabling the strengths and capabilities of others to be seeded, nurtured and grown. Leadership is distributed through the local system and decision making is far more localized.
Managing by outcomes not presenteeism
represents a change in the ‘psychological contract’ with staff – focusing on helping people to succeed at what they do, wherever they may be working from (at home, in hubs and local places, as well as in the office). This assumes a maturity in relationship based on an adult’s responsibility to organise their time, priorities and schedules in ways they see fit; they are supported to do this if needed, but it is what is achieved – the outcomes of their endeavours that is important; working from home undermines habitual ‘presenteeism’ – and for that matter absenteeism, but this also requires a clear assessment of what people are trying to achieve and how that works in a ‘blended’ work place (home-based – office based – and place based working).
Developing leadership at all levels
creating agency and adult-adult working where anyone working in a local system can be supported to lead – essentially facilitating initiative, trust around a shared purpose, values and set of local conditions that support the aspirations of local residents and businesses. Investing in leadership development becomes place-based not organizational and is designed to meet local needs and solve local problems; participants come from all parts of the system.
Compassionate and emotionally intelligent leadership is essential
underlines the importance of the reflection time needed to step back from crisis management – to make sense of what is going on and to ensure that the leader is not overwhelmed by feelings or the emotions of people they are leading in creating the conditions for recovery. As we recover from Covid 19 emergency responses and aim to build back better, creating the right conditions for working in new ways is an essential leadership role. The group discussion discussed what this means in practice:
Safe working: psychological and physical
Distribute leadership to ‘front-line’ and decision making – supported by new processes with governance
Less risk averse, innovative, citizen focused – how to safeguard staff in trying things. Leadership support is needed.
‘Experience strategy’ and leaders have to engage and ‘walk the talk’ with more staff working away from the office
Recognise and celebrate right values and behaviours in context
There are a number of trends influencing
psychological and physical safety. If we take as a starting point the
possibility that Covid 19 and lockdown has been psychologically impactful and
possibly traumatic over time for staff and key leaders in local systems, then
organization and place-based development need to be psychologically (and
trauma)-informed. Reported increases in domestic violence and therefore adverse
childhood experiences during lockdown, illustrates the tensions experienced by
families which can of course also include employees of public services. We have
known for many decades that any shift to remote working can shatter social
networks that contribute to happiness, productivity and coping at work. Working
in more relational ways is a trend in public services – children’s social care,
education, homelessness and police services in particular are embracing
‘psychologically informed environments’ and ‘trauma-informed practices’. This
requires organization and leadership practices that create the right conditions
for this work to be done.
These two factors (recovery from the impacts of
Covid and working in relational ways with more vulnerable members of society) require
psychologically and physically safe environments to be created for all staff.
Overlaying the points on the post-its above, we can see this is a critical
dimension too in how leadership is developed to support these new ways of
Creating conditions for working in this way
Creating a ‘secure base’ for staff involves
organization design and development that is based on the key elements of early
development; that is creating a ‘holding space’ – where individual and
collective anxiety is effectively ‘held’ and supported to differentiate the
personal from the professional. In developmental terms, this is moving from
dependence (working to instruction/prescribed standards) to independence
(expert leadership based on what I have learned and trained in) to
interdependence (working across boundaries in the system to achieve outcomes
for the local population and service users). Without this progression we get
co-dependence (and remote working can create this, and the crisis system
described earlier encourages this) – which fuels demand, escalation and
reactive strategies in a state of constant anxiety, over-dependence on fixing
or being fixed and sometimes, constant engagement with ‘the authorities’ over a
One outcome of co-dependence is conflict and/or avoidance across boundaries. Conflict can be both interpersonal and inter-institutional (often one reflecting the other) and leaders will need to develop the practices needed to work across personal and institutional boundaries to support collaboration whilst acknowledging the need to refresh and reboot relationships at every level. Our highlighted points above can be a source of both liberation and anxiety, innovation and exploitation. Letting go and holding to account in adult ways are fundamental components of creating these conditions, in which feelings can be validated, the strengths of people nurtured, learning is valued and accountabilities are held from a place of integrity, without blame or shame.
In preparing for the Wind Up and dissolution of Scotland’s
first New Town, East Kilbride, the chair, Mr J Allan Denholm, reflected on the
achievements of the New Town Development Corporations, with words that have
much resonance today.
‘The measure of a mature and successful community is its
ability to sustain growth and support the aspirations of its people throughout
periods of change and challenge as well as in times of stability and prosperity
‘…It is people in every part of this community who have
created East Kilbride’s success and whose hands its future will lie’.
The New Town model had been based on land and property
development to meet housing needs over-spilling from Glasgow but more than
this, to provide community infrastructure, social cohesion and employment
opportunities through inward investment.
It provided places
for people and business to thrive – a platform of place based and harmonious
participation from a wide variety of stakeholders with the purpose of building
‘good’ and sustainable growth. It was a model of working, using many different
levers and capabilities, skills and viewpoints, to marry lofty policy with the
practical, physical delivery of a new town which served the common good. It
influenced many of us officers who were embarking on our own public service
careers. And it certainly remains part of the local government policy through
to delivery model of local place shaping governance.
It was those final words about people which seemed the most
poignant and important for people like me, a corporation employee, and and who
also part of the community we were serving.
Our work felt personal ….and it was personal.
That annual report of 1994 certainly captured all the big,
high-profile economic development successes of EKDC but the real yardstick of
success was really how the people of East Kilbride felt about each other and
Since that point I have been, and will remain, a flag bearer
for ‘emotional connectedness’ we learned as part of that journey – and for
designing people ‘in’ and not ‘out’ in increasingly digital or technology
enabled service or policy solutions.
Now, following the trauma following the Covid-19 pandemic, we see the need to
create community platforms of a different kind.
The emergence of Smart City solutions for urban spaces, a next
generation on from the green field development corporations, provides new
possibilities to improve how we live – but only if we take great care not to
export across into the new future, all the old biases, injustices, prejudices
and labels, that the algorithms might project from our past and flawed
And only if we take great care not to use digital capability
to govern by remote control without real, sincere, empathetic human engagement
to negotiate ongoing change.
The past is no longer a good indicator of what will
come. Patriarchal organisational strategies
based on past performance will not readily accommodate emerging questions.
A definition of Smart Cities is currently
area that uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply
information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently.
Key dimensions of current Smart City
capabilities focus on Smart Energy, Smart Transport, Smart data, Smart
infrastructure, Smart mobility and Smart IoT with sensing and reporting devices
being attached to existing urban infrastructure.
Using anonymised data there are some
wholescale insights which can be made about behaviour and use. Indeed the current narratives supporting
Smart Cities centre around driving more efficient use of resources and reducing
cost in comparison with current behaviours.
The current narratives around design of
Smart technologies to understand homelessness, as an example, are really
interesting in this regard with rationales ranging from reducing demand on
hospitals, social care and other services to being able to track individuals
movements to providing help at park benches, to connecting homeless people with
hostels and help via mobile and smartphone technology.
But whilst we are demonstrating ‘capability’ it might be a
good time to discuss ‘purpose’.
Referencing the Scottish New Town model of community
connectedness I would ask how kindness, dignity and compassion can characterise
our decision making and actions – some key values to underpin a just, inclusive
and fair society.
In my mind there are some key questions which might be
usefully debated including;
Can technology platforms include the capability
to develop emotional intelligence, empathy and connectedness of people?
Is our emotional
connectedness to place important or necessary for thriving communities?
Who owns data and insight in a democratic
environment, and how do we all ensure it is deployed for the common good.
What degree of empathy and interpersonal skill do
we need to see in those developing new technology to reduce the level of
marginalisation of people across society
The EKDC Chair observed over 30 years ago that ‘…there is a
danger that high profile, international and national flagship projects will
become the yardstick by which community success is measured’. This seems to be a highly prescient challenge
for us all now.
Public sector organizations have been
affected in many ways by the current pandemic. Some effects are obvious, and
relate to newly developed capacities such as food provision for those with vulnerabilities.
By contrast, changes in mindsets among those employed by public sector organizations
are less evident. Nonetheless, as the UK (hopefully) sees off the pandemic in
the coming months, an ability to maintain morale and productivity among public
sector staff will be vital, and that in turn is greatly dependent upon staff
perceptions of career development.
In doing so, lessons can be learnt from research on organizational culture and the way it can support and hinder career development. A recent paper in the academic journal Public Money and Management (paywalled) provides insights into that question by analysing responses to the British Civil Service People Survey between 2010 and 2018. This blog sets out its broad approach, and key findings.
As shown below, 2010 was a low point for career development, but by 2018, roughly half of respondents agreed with the statement “There are opportunities for me to develop my career in [my organization])”, and a similar amount agreed that “Learning and development activities I have completed while working for [my organization] are helping me to develop my career’.
Our analysis has examined the patterns of organizational
culture that show the closest links to that improvement in career development
between 2010 and 2018.
The starting point (which draws on research on organizational culture, public management, and moral ethics) is to set out major aspects of organizational culture, and identify seven specific perspectives within them:
of empowerment, which can vary from a highly centralized culture (low
empowerment) to a loosely centralised one (high empowerment);
of attention, which may be inwards (in line with William Beveridge’s saying “The besetting sin of civil servants
is to mix too much with each other”), outwards towards Ministers, or outwards to citizens and
towards different sets of priorities – individual “ego” goals (salary
and promotion prospects), family-friendly work-life balance practices, peer
group goals relating to the team and the organization’s overall mission;
to risk and change, which may be hostile, cautiously positive to change, or indeed show a
radical willingness to embrace innovation.
Our next step was to calculate scores on these aspects of culture, as shown below, with scores potentially ranging from 0% (lowest possible) to 100% (highest possible).
All scores increased between 2018
and 2010, with the most prominent changes occurring for mission (up 13
percentage points), and empowerment (up more than 11 percentage points).
A key question is how these trends are likely to have affected career opportunities. The paper uses statistical analysis on 71 civil service organizations for 2010 to 2018, examining variations across organizations (cross-sectional analysis) and over time (time-series analysis), with both approaches giving similar results. The bar chart below shows results gained by using the former technique. It shows the extent to which 1% changes in different aspects of organizational culture in turn lead to changes in career development, and to learning and development.
Each of the various themes have
differing effects on career development prospects and learning and development
opportunities (results for the “Positive to change” and “Teams” themes are not
given in the above chart as they were not statistically significant).
It is probably no surprise that a
culture stressing pay “adequately reflecting performance” and job being
“sufficiently challenging”, as per the self/individual theme, can be positive
to career development. However, an outward looking perspective, is almost as
important. Furthermore, the theme most positive for career development is
commitment to the mission, as shown by a proportional factor of 0.64, given
that all other themes have a proportional factor below 0.4.
Also notable is that improvements
to self/family detracted from the career prospects score by a factor of 0.33, though
there were signs of a positive connection to learning and development (that
specific result was not, however, statistically significant from zero). In
other words, a tension
between work and family seemed easier for civil service culture to overcome
with respect to training activities than for actual career opportunities.
In the Civil Service during the period considered (2010 to 2018), there has been a noticeable change in key features—in particular, a greater sense of mission, and decentralization of power. That represents a step towards the ethos outlined in Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful”, which aspired to creating ‘lively, autonomous units, each with its own drive and sense of achievement [profiting] from the convenience, humanity and manageability of smallness’.
There are many implications of such a shift in culture for
career development, especially since this vision is easier said than done. In
moving towards meeting the challenges of the pandemic, morale and productivity
among public sector staff will be vital, and without a culture that empowers
staff, that maintains their sense of mission, and that provides an
outward-looking perspective, prospects for the future of public services in the
UK may be bleak.
Cameron and Quinn’s Competing Values Framework; Geert Hofstede’s cultural
dimensions; James Wilson’s analysis of bureaucracy; New Public Management
theory; ethnographic research by R.A.W Rhodes and social psychology perspectives
described by Jonathan Haidt
The process here entailed (a) calculating the weighted average score for a
given indicator, taking into account the proportion of overall civil service
employment at each organization, (b) allocating relevant indicators
from the People Survey to relevant themes of organizational culture, (c) calculating
the average score among the set of indicators that represent a given theme.
The tweet, which was sent entirely in a personal and unofficial capacity, read:
I work in a central government team that’s helping build a strategy for the United Kingdom’s renewal after we’ve recovered from #coronavirus.
Who should we be listening to?
What questions should we be asking?
Where has this approach (not) worked well before?
This received 1,800 retweets, 1,600 likes and over 1,500 replies.
Vinay Débrou (https://vinaydebrou.com/), a member of the PSTA’s learning community, https://www.publicservicetransformation.org/2020/04/the-days-after-a-learning-community-to-build-back-better/, and the Yak Collective (https://www.yakcollective.org/projects/dont-waste-the-covid19-reboot/), volunteered to parse the replies into excel we have been able to do some analysis of the replies. The raw scraped data from this analysis (public data scraped end April and cleaned 10 May) is available here: (https://www.dropbox.com/s/n3iikj0lt8q4gzv/2020-06-02%20Replies%20Data%20to%20JaCattell%20Tweet%20JP%20analysis%20v0.5BT.xlsx?dl=0)
“>at this link (Excel format).
Here are some key points and thoughts from the analysis:
• The most-cited single theory, approach, or recommendation is around Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics (https://www.kateraworth.com/), centred around ‘humanity’s 21st century challenge… to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet’, with a total of 34 references.
• Many of the tweets are from special interest and lobby groups promoting their causes in this context. Not all will be relevant but rather a chance to pressure where a door into Whitehall might be thought to have been opened. Does this indicate that there is not much opportunity for people to have their say and for these groups to get heard at the moment in what is a centrally led response and the focus is on crisis management?
• This along with politically motivated responses and an element of abuse limits the overall analysis.
• There are many links to research, think-pieces, agendas and blogs and it is apparent that so much thinking is already out there or being done at the moment which is relevant to the current situation which can be harnessed. This could be grouped into themes for further research. In particular, Kate Raworth features in the wordcloud with over 20 mentions and also in the analysis of most-liked tweets, suggesting that there is breadth and depth of support for Doughnut Economics as a lens or framework for renewal.
• This Wordcloud analysis of key words with over 20 mentions is useful and emphasises where the sentiment is.
• ‘People’ has the highest number of mentions followed by ‘listen’ suggesting that there is a call to focus on developing policy and ideas with consultation and involvement of people. ‘Ask’ is also a similar trend.
• ‘Communities’, ‘economy’ and ‘government’ all present equally in the response, interesting as it indicates a balance in perspective and also ties in with the varying theme of a systemic transformation (covering environment, climate, economy, society, finance, business etc.)
• ‘Local’ also features, perhaps reflecting the recognition in local networks that have proved critical in the response so far.
• If the replies which got more than 20 likes are analysed into themes, the overwhelming area of interest and support is sustainability and wellbeing. This has 3 times as many likes compared to the second most popular, ‘listening to people’.
There are some key points arising from this:
• There is a strong feeling that people from across society need to be at the heart of the next steps.
• There is broad support for a more sustainable model generally underpinned by economic reform (though the theories and approach vary).
• A focus on interdependencies and transforming the system as a whole, particularly linked back to varying approaches to ‘sustainability’.
Alongside these, ‘listen to people’ and ‘ask for help’ seem to be the key recommendations for renewal.
We will leave it to the reader to determine whether anything from this input in response to an unofficial, personal tweet. made it through to the UK Government’s plan to rebuild, published on 26 May.
Lots of different experiences of the current lockdown, even
in the same LA! I thought I’d share mine.
Thank God for ICT software being hosted in the cloud. Without this, contact centre staff would probably have had to come in to keep essential services going. With this, the majority of the council can work from home.
We have never been so busy, and this is in an already fast-paced council. From setting up Covid-19 assistance packages in partnership with the voluntary sector, to weekend working. From thousands of new benefit claims to working hard but sensitively on collecting business rates and council tax money owed so people don’t get into avoidable debt. To organising all of the payments of grants to businesses, under a political spotlight. From government directives changing twice daily on the above. From huge local and national political scrutiny on how we are supporting people to stay safe – both colleagues and customers – nothing matters more. Reviewing transformation work and deciding it should all still go ahead, and working hard to meet the timescales. From seeing colleagues’ spare bedrooms, kitchens and children, and cuddly toys from the most unexpected of people! Daily briefings to be delivered early each morning on the impacts on customers and residents. Increased productivity from homeworking. Benefit claims paid on the same day. Contact centre volumes up but answering times down. Everyone pulling together for their council and place. Server and software issues, timelags on video calls between speech and face showing colleagues laughing while you’re delivering bad news.
I honestly can’t think of anything anyone has been asked to do that they have refused. No wondering where someone may be and if they can make your meeting – we are all at home working with shared diaries. Wonderful team working and across services. Job roles, employment status and hierarchies less important than making things happen and removing barriers. Compassion and humanity for bereaved colleagues. Sickness down, annual leave down – all hands on deck.
The social care workforce is
amazing. It is responding to the current
challenges with passion and selfless dedication. As hospitals are stretched beyond capacity
and every single bed is needed, the social care workers are supporting with
rapid discharges whilst ensuring the safety of individuals. Discharge to assess and hospital social work
teams are working constantly to ensure beds are available to support the fight
against the Coronavirus. Local authorities are mobilising their social care
work force to respond to these challenges and are supported with the changes in the
Coronavirus Act 2020 which are intended to enable authorities to prioritise
To enable local authorities to respond
to the most urgent and serious cases, most of the duties contained in the Care
Act 2014 have been temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, under
changes to adult social care which are contained in Schedule 12 of the
Coronavirus Act 2020. Local authorities
are already experiencing an increase in demand from vulnerable people and
whilst battling the challenges of hospital social work and discharges to
support an overwhelmed NHS, councils are being proactive with the early
identification of people potentially most at risk and looking to create
prevention and early intervention strategies to avoid further crisis. Many local authorities are using targeted
support models and identification tools to help them identify and engage with
people to provide information, advice and support. We can see volunteers, charities and third
sector organisations coming together to respond to the crisis; food banks,
befriending services, distributing packages, sharing creative ideas to reduce
social isolation, etc. People are
uniting to battle the crisis.
Organisations are unifying. We
are trusting one another and relationships between sectors are strengthening. The third sector are proving, beyond doubt,
the massive value they add to the community.
The extent of the impact of
COVID-19 is not limited to the more obvious hospital crisis but extends to the
community as peoples’ mental health and the impact of social isolation is being
recognised as a major risk to people.
Many councils have identified that, as a result of the restrictions
imposed due to COVID-19, there is risk of social isolation for vulnerable
people who would normally access community-based support to meet their personal
has long been acknowledged that ‘community life, social connections, and having
a voice in local decisions are all factors that have a vital contribution to
make to health and wellbeing’ (gov.uk) Much work has been undertaken
over the years to develop community based support, ensure integration with
people who use services and the local community, personalisation and breaking
down barriers to those with disabilities, much of which has been halted by this
unprecedented challenge. Support plans which have been codesigned with people
who use services and include daily use of community resources have been placed
on hold due to the new rules around social distancing and only accessing the
local community for essential purposes.
One of my first thoughts was for
people with learning disabilities and the often-complex packages of support
which blend formal services with community resources. By the very nature of
some disabilities, routine and structure are everything. These suddenly imposed changes to routine
support to access the community, participation in social activities and attending
volunteering and learning opportunities could be difficult for some people who
use services to understand and may result in changes to behaviours.
Let’s meet Fred. Fred is 49 years old and lives in a shared
living scheme with 3 other people who use services. One of Fred’s personal outcomes is that he
requires support to access community resources for physical exercise and mental
stimulation. Once a week he goes to see his parents, both of whom are in their
70s with underlying health conditions.
Fred is currently supported to access the community with 1:1 support due
to risks around road safety and a history of behaviours of concern. The care and support provider receives
contact from the local authority who provide information and guidance around
community support for shopping, medication, how to stay safe, contact
information in the event of an emergency etc.
The implications of COVID-19 mean
that Fred can only go out once a day for exercise. He is unable to access cafes
or see his parents. Fred is unsettled
and is displaying behaviours of concern which has made accessing the community
difficult. Fred is spending more time at home and there are difficulties in his
relationships with the other people he lives with as everyone is forced to
socialise within the home environment for long periods each day. Fred now
requires 2:1 support both in and outside the home. This becomes an urgent and
serious case for which social worker support is required; a new assessment due
to significant change in need, an increased package of support etc, etc. It is
here that we find our new wave of crisis.
Because Fred isn’t alone. There
will be many, many people with complex needs who will struggle to adjust to
these sudden changes and severe restrictions to their everyday life. Social Care is faced with increasing demand
due to COVID-19 so how are councils responding to these situations? TRUST! Providers are contacting social care and
reporting these changes in need and workers are trusting their knowledge and
insight, they are trusting their existing relationships with people and that
they know the individuals and what support is needed. Councils are implementing
the changes to the support over the phone, recording the outcomes and trusting
the providers to arrange and amend the support package to ensure the wellbeing
The ‘lockdown’ rules present a
risk of social isolation for many of us and as many of us will indeed struggle
with isolation. For those people who require support and services, it would
seem, the impact could be far worse. However,
councils are going further, by recognising the impact of social isolation to
those people who are not receiving services, the people who are ‘managing’ with
the support of family, friends, other informal networks or have very small
packages of support. What happens to
their ability to cope when socialising is removed from their daily life? It has long been recognised that
social isolation and loneliness is associated with a range of mental and
physical health impacts: strokes, heart disease, weakened immune system,
increased risk of falls, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, anxiety and suicide.
Now we meet April. April is 78 years old and has been asked to
self-isolate. April would normally go to
her local shops daily to buy food and get exercise. April is known in her local
community and enjoys speaking to people, many of whom she has known for
years. April has reduced mobility due to
osteoarthritis and has a history of falls. She has OT equipment in place to support
her around the home such as a perching stool and grab rails. April uses a walker to access the community. She
likes to be as independent as possible and has a stand up wash every day and a
minimal package of support for a bath and hair wash once a week. Family help with cleaning and laundry and
April goes to her daughters for a roast dinner every Sunday and to her son’s
for dinner every Wednesday. April visits
her local library every Tuesday for a book club and attends a weekly coffee
morning at her local church. April’s daughter takes her to church every
Sunday. Since self-isolating, April has
lost her routine, her social interactions and has become depressed. Since losing her opportunity for daily
exercise, April is experiencing an increase in joint pain. April’s community and family have rallied round,
and food is delivered. Her family have provided an i-pad so she can video-call
family members and see her grandchildren which April says has helped. However, April’s carer has expressed concerns
to the family and council around her mental wellbeing and some signs of
self-neglect within the home. The carer describes some decline in April’s
mobility, that she seems unsteady on her feet and the carer is worried that
April is at an increased risk of falls. The
carer is not sure if April is eating or managing medication and she seems
muddled. The family stated they would be
happy to support with personal care and would explore assist technology to
support with medication however, they are unable to action this now due to
self-isolation. The council record the
risks and agree to implement a daily visit to support April with her personal
care and to prompt with medication.
Prior to the Covid-19 crisis,
both case studies would likely have required a home visit from adult social
care due to the change in need, however we can now see councils responding from
a position of trust. It is fair to say
that this trust has come about from a lack of resources and a need for social
care to prioritise urgent and severe cases, but the trust is there and it is
resulting in quicker and smoother solutions to immediate need. Moreover, gone are the delays in responding
due to waiting lists and a need to prioritise risks. Gone are the panels and other formal approval
processes for funding. Gone is the,
often clunky, assessment and review documentation, which has been reported as a
blocker to conversations and timely interventions. In their place we can see
conversations between individuals and those who know them best. We can see communities, volunteers and third
sector organisations being trusted to engage and respond with people they know.
We can see less demand for statutory services, formal processes and social care
interventions. Which means our skilled social
care workforce can continue to respond to urgent needs within hospitals,
supporting the NHS in this unprecedented crisis.
For the reasons identified above,
it is likely that we will see continue to see significant increases in packages
of support and an increase in people requiring support in the community as they
lose their informal networks of families, friends and communities. The changes
to the Care Act are reported to be in place for up to 2 and a half years, and
therefore reviews and assessments are a power rather than a duty. However,
reviews and assessments will need to be carried out- a function that was
already stretched within adult social care.
So how will councils cope with the increase in demand, in business as
usual community reviews and in people who use services? The truth is, we don’t
know. Many councils are not able to
consider this as the respond to the current increasing demand. It seems the
fitting answer is to build on these new approaches of trusting providers,
trusting care agencies and third sectors who have existing relationships with
people. If we can trust them in crisis,
can we extend this trust into the future therefore extending and continuing
this sense of community and togetherness we see now? As we utilise the resources and knowledge
these organisations and providers have to respond to the crisis, can we see
this as a new approach to implement in our services and practice? Can we simplify
processes and remove some of the formalities and structures that serve as time
consuming and potential blockers to true conversation-based approaches?
It would require training and
upskilling of voluntary and third sectors as the Care Act is clear that those
undertaking assessments and reviews should be skilled to do so. It would require ongoing support and joint
working. It would require a unified
approach and trust. But we can already
see that it is possible.
Charley is an experienced adult social worker who has developed
into a highly effective Change and Transformation Consultant. Charley has
experience of organisational change, while supporting Operational Managers to
improve the quality of practice. Her most recent project involved helping a
local authority design a new pathway for adult social care that incorporated
third sector and voluntary organisations.
Its day 8 of self-isolation and its starting to hit home how hard this will be; coughing child seems to be recovering energy and appetite but the number of stories of friends of friends on ventilators growing by the day and my parents and Rachel’s in isolation and its hard.
It’s totally clear we are not alone in any of this. The families feel in a pressure cooker, the singles feel lonely and the new couples now locked in together are about the hit the fast forward button on their relationships.
RedQuadrant has been pretty good.
Perhaps because we are used to working remotely, working to crazy deadlines and in high stress situations, Fraggle rock is a familiar place to us. However, not everyone is so lucky and I have had a few accounts from friends and relations of people crying through exhaustion, fear and frustration on work video conference calls.
The technology will be a life saver in all this; but it’s also a danger. It can dis-inhibit very bad behaviours including micro-management. When we meet face to face a basic human mechanism kicks in and we start to register the emotional state of the people around us; it’s hard wired into us to do this. Working remotely massively reduces our ability to do this as does stress. Not being in the same room as your team can make you less included to trust they are doing their jobs.
I am also seeing many new websites being set up without anything substantive behind them; it feels like magical thinking by senior leaders to imagine new websites can save us without people behind them. Perhaps it’s just easier than large scale engagement and delegation.
That may sound a bit luddite; it’s not. I’m saying that technology acts as a force multiplier. It can help deliver good ideas and help bring people together and help people do more. But, without the good ideas and good people and delegated authority there is no force to multiply.
So if you are a leader I think it’s time to wake up, listen and trust your people enough to empower them.
You can get in touch with me to discuss via RedQuadrant at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on twitter @geraldpower happy to chat and share
Having spent weeks setting up a community volunteer network I didn’t think I might be one of the first to use it. But, our daughter got a headache and temperature on Sunday morning so now its home school, sick child and self-isolation for fourteen days of comfortable – if fractious and nervous- confinement.
That won’t be the case for many other people without money, food or social capital. The people I see down the soup kitchen, or who rely on the local food bank, who for a multitude of reasons are struggling in normal times will rapidly find the situation much bleaker than mine. Some will literally be on the streets as it has upset their mental health to the point they can no longer cope. Many of them will be going to their council for support, now or very soon.
Its undeniable part of this will be about resources and technology. I have heard many clients saying how utterly relieved they are that they had rolled out home working before covid hit or at least had enough to allow them to work now. However, it’s also obvious that the tools alone won’t fix this and there is a need for intelligence and insight.
Having a litre of milk arrive on the doorstep 20 min after a whatsapp request yesterday certainly make me feel better. There are no online delivery slots in my area. Having two bags of shopping arrive this lunchtime courtesy of a neighbour made me really realise how much this will be about ‘localism’ and local grassroots networks.
Yes we will be using tech, but it’s not really about the tech. It’s about people, relationships and solving problems. If local government can tap into this massive bank of social capital the road ahead will be much easier to navigate. Now is also the time to act. The sun is shining and it feels very odd. That reminds me of the phone footage of the Boxing Day Tsunami. When the sea disappeared many tourists wandered down the beach to look at the funny fish; they should have considered why and what was coming next and headed for the high ground.
You can get in touch with me to discuss via RedQuadrant at email@example.com or DM me on twitter @geraldpower happy to chat and share