This is the first instalment of a new series called “Who Cares?” focused on people working in care who we consider to be care and support innovators. First up we have Leila Hill, Area Service Manager, Care and Support, East Thames Group (housing association with 13,500 homes active in East London and Essex):
1. Describe your average day? What are the best bits and what are the worst?
No two days are the same, and for me that is one of the best bits! I oversee a range of different social care services so I am regularly in touch with my different teams to make sure I am up-to-date and they get support and advice from me when they need it. I meet with commissioners from the local authority so I can ensure services are strategically relevant, adapt to the fast-changing external environment and embed lessons learned when things go wrong. I really enjoy developing trusting and effective partnership working with families, commissioners, social workers and other organisations. The worst part is when partnerships break down and the ‘blame game’ kicks in.
2. Tell us about some of your recent successes in care and support?
Over the past couple of years we have been developing bespoke services for people with complex needs and autism moving from registered care or residential schools into supported living. We invested a lot of resources to upskill our staff and embed Positive Behaviour Support plans consistently - the behavioural analysis that sits behind these plans has enabled us to evidence solid improvements in functioning and improved quality of life.
3. What are the ongoing problems?
Where to start?! Evidencing why over-stretched funding authorities should invest in preventative services is really hard, particularly when they are already cutting emergency and critical budgets. The biggest issue for me is that each agency that manages a budget only really cares about their budget in a very short-term way and don’t consider how their services impact on other budgets… but as a tax payer this feels wrong! For example cutting low level and preventative mental health services impacts negatively on police, ambulance, GP’s and hospital budgets. It’s hard to ‘prove’ that without a low level early support intervention how a person with mental health difficulties would have turned out (and what money is saved from other budgets) because it’s impossible to carry out the experiment
4. What do you think of the The Care Act?
It was necessary to deal with all the different bits of legislation and create one unifying act, but I am sceptical there is enough money to deliver on the aspirations.
5. What makes you tick?
I have a strong belief that society has a responsibility to treat the most vulnerable people within it ethically and respectfully, I would call it a sense social justice. I also love doing new things in new ways, taking calculated risks if they can make a proper difference and improve lives in real ways
6. What upsets you?
Indifference to people who are suffering.
7. If you had 3 care and support wishes what would they be?
1. Health authorities properly investing long term in preventative services.
2. Greater understanding within wider society of how hard day-to-day life can be for people who are disabled and their close families.
3. Social care having higher status so it attracts and retains people who really care about their jobs.
8. Do you think technology can make a difference?
Yes!! In so many ways!
It concerns me that we are creating an ‘underclass’ of people who through frailty, vulnerability or socio-economic status are unable to participate in the technology revolution, and this makes their lives even harder. It’s so easy to renew a passport or driving licence online but if you don’t know how to do it or don’t have a computer you spend longer and maybe pay more - especially if your local post office has closed and you have to travel - to get the same service.
Technology has been used for years in banks and supermarkets to check that staff are honest and behaving with integrity. The social care sector has rightly been concerned with the privacy of people who use services but the consequences are that staff often cannot prove when they do their job well and families cannot feel confident that their families are well cared for. I don’t think monitoring should be covert like when the BBC goes in with a hidden camera, it should be overt (and respectful of privacy issues) to encourage a culture in which staff expect to have their work scrutinised and held to account for how well they do their job.
9. What do you envisage your life to be like when you are 80?
Ha ha ha, I’m not telling you about my private life! But I hope I still have family, friends and fun in my life.