When the weather is bad… a glimpse of the future?

Blog by Geoff Mark

I think Billy Connolly once said that in Scotland there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes…

I don’t think we have a blueprint to transform care at home overnight and for what it’s worth, I’m not sure there is one. However, it seems obvious that simply working harder at getting more out of our current approach won’t be the answer as I have observed that the things that produce good results seem to happen almost in spite of our current approach rather than because of it. A new approach is needed to be able to connect what is most important for people. A new approach is also needed for the staff who support them so that they can recognise, value and make the most of the capabilities of themselves and the people that they support, using resources flexibly to create incentives to make the most of wider support networks and communities.

I can see that it all might sound a bit idealistic. However, I see most of the potential for a new approach in situations when it is obvious that our traditional approach won’t work and this is usually when we have severely bad weather. It happens 2 to 3 times a year and I’m always impressed by how services and communities respond. Care staff go above and beyond, walking across the fields in the snow, providers negotiate provision directly with service users and families, communities rally around, farmers clear roads and so much more. It happens time and time again.

I’m not suggesting for a minute that we could sustain all this indefinitely or that there are no risks in these situations, but there is something about recognising the commitment of care staff and care providers to the people they support. We need to make sure that this commitment is valued and reinforced by enabling staff to directly respond to what’s most important for the people that they support, while facilitating engaging wider networks of support. Equally, wider support networks and communities are more likely to respond if there is a clear opportunity to make a difference to the people who require support.  If this were in place perhaps we could sustain better outcomes and if more resources were available, we would be more likely to use them effectively.

So there’s the challenge – can we find a way to focus on what produces good results in the context of the challenges we face? I don’t think it will be easy because if it was easy, we’d be doing it, but I do think there must be a better way of approaching the whole thing.


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