What are managers and professionals getting over enthusiastic about this week?
Education, housing, environment, leisure and social services there isn't a local authority service that isn't periodically subject to the claim that someone, somewhere has come up with a way of providing a better service more cheaply.
There are management fads and social work fads. Management fads are usually about improved efficiency ( saving money) social work fads are about being more effective ( more helpful to clients). Often a new way of working is sold to social workers on the grounds that it offers something better for their clients but is adopted and prompted by senior management as a way of saving money. The result is that the early promise of the successful pilot schemes is turned into an over sold under deliver reality as practise become finance driven. Isn't this what happened with care management, it was supposed to be about identifying need and flexible services not tick box assessments and rationing. Same with Personalisation it was supposed to be about giving the client more control and individually tailored care but what use is your own care budget if its insufficient to buy the care you need? And the great integration debate was originally presented as removing duplication and the need for for clients to repeat their personal circumstances as each group of health and social care professionals undertook their own assessment. Now no one pretends it is anything other than an attempt to save money. So I am with Peter Beresford co chair of the user group Shaping Our Lives when he describes the latest care model " Three Conversations" as the latest in a long line of " elixirs" that claim to offer better services more cheaply.
I would go further and say it another example of re packaging good practice and presenting it as something new and innovative. Government ministers find this irresistible, social workers less so.
I am not against innovation although I do have a preference for effectiveness over efficiency after all these years of the later being a thinly disguised name for cuts. I think any initiative that can get ministered interested, can motivate social workers and generate some good publicity is to be encouraged. But when this new way of doing things becomes subject to a compulsory role out with targets and time scales that are non negotiable then what I have observed is that it becomes finance driven, social workers become dishearten , clients disappointed and the reality doesn't match the rhetoric.