- Promoting individual well-being. It’s not good enough to just hand out leaflets, it requires a proper campaign to address the well-being in all demographics. Cherry picking vulnerable and disabled people for example would discriminate against those that are trying to keep themselves fit and well. It’s as important to engage the self funding middle class as pensioners receiving pension credits. And it’s important to see their children as an constituency of interested people.
- Preventing needs for care and support. Prevention has to be done at scale, there is no point in having two people as the single point of contact in a Council. This approach will fail for even the most vulnerable groups. Typically there are 15-20,000 chronically lonely people in a London Borough. To address a problem of this scale, the solution has to the facilitation of self and community help. Councils cannot set themselves up as the one place to go for everything. They need to develop the social capital within their communities to tackle this problem within each Ward. In Ealing the Councils approach touches less then 1,000 of the 17,000 chronically lonely people in the Borough.
- Promoting integration of care and support with health services etc. The NHS cannot have it both ways, complaining about a shortage of funding and failing to engage with the social capital development in their communities. The NHS has over the last few years conducted a scorched earth policy around their services. Placing impossible contract requirements on Social Enterprises, often letting contracts to itself and failing to integrate its care services in a meaningful way with local community organisations. As as a result, there is little innovation in local health and care services.
- Providing information and advice. If you have looked at any council health and care information services, this link is for older people in Ealing, (you can make your own mind up how useful it is), most information is partial, out of date, broadly inaccurate and not designed with the user in mind. Information is not even curated for particular demographic groups. More often than not they are just a list of organisations and locations that mean nothing to local people. Contact number is really answered and access and disability services poorly described. So why do authorities see this as a useful way to spend resources, at best it’s likely to be a box ticking exercise to address the bare minimum of requirements.
- Promoting diversity and quality in the provision of services. The first step here is to allow online feedback on the services, few councils do this, and it’s very hard to understand the quality of a service. In Ealing you can complain but we have no idea what people have been complaining about, no one can judge the quality of the a service. Pretty much all industries have worked out the benefits of listening to their customers.
- Co-operating generally. Looking beyond local services and embracing the people that create and run them is a better way of thinking about how cooperation might work. Most Councils have no idea of who runs such 3rd services and does not provide any support services for them. The relationship is often transactional and based on erratic funding. Most of the effort of these hugely generous people is unacknowledged and certainly never engaged with. More often then not the Council is quick to criticise even the slightest failing in such people, and yet it ignores the rising complaint about its lack of local relevant services, blaming anyone but criticise itself for the issues.
Addresses these issues would not cost a great deal, probably no more than is being spent currently. Sadly not doing it means that peoples self-reliance is under-minded and they struggle to stay away from the local health and care services. We should all demand higher standards of the information provision and local coordination within communities this would go a long way to reducing costs and improving outcomes.