Ep2: Yes to co-production and personalisation
In this episode of Yes to You, the Lifeways social care podcast, our host Paul is joined by Jodie Allen-Cawley, Lifeways’ Group Head of Quality and Health & Safety, to discuss how co-production and personalisation help social care providers avoid ‘serviceland’ – an all-too-common scenario where people receiving support are led by their teams and the rhythm of the service where they live. Jodie also looks back at the history of social care, starting when she began work, first as a carer, in the 1980s.
Transcript – Ep2: Yes to co-production and personalisation
Main speaker: Jodie Allen-Cawley, Lifeways’ Group Head of Quality and Health & Safety
Host: Paul Crompton, Marketing and Communications Manager, Lifeways
PC Paul Crompton
JA Jodie Allen-Cawley
PC: Hello, and welcome to Yes to You, the podcast from Lifeways. Lifeways is the UK’s largest team of support professionals who provide support to adults in the community. In this episode you’ll be learning about personalisation and co-production, what these mean, and how personalisation and co-production benefit people we support.
I’m Paul Crompton, your podcast host here, and I’m speaking to Jodie Allen-Cawley. Jodie is the lead quality manager at Lifeways, and she’s got over 30 years of experience in helping to ensure that people receive fantastic high-quality support that doesn’t only reach regulatory standards but exceeds it.
Jodie, welcome to the Yes to You podcast.
JA: Thanks, Paul, it’s really great to be here.
PC Great, let’s get started. Could you briefly sum up what you and the team that you lead does?
JA So, we support the organisation, and of course our operational colleagues, in areas such as driving regulatory and organisational compliance, our quality monitoring, and governance. But our overarching purpose is really simple, and that’s to ensure that every person we support receives high-quality person-centred care and support, and that’s really why personalisation is one of our key drivers.
PC Right, so let’s zoom in a little bit on personalisation. How would you describe personalisation in really simple terms?
JA It’s an approach that uses the principles of choice, control, and inclusion. It focuses on putting the person in the very centre of their care and support, but in a way that makes sense to them, so they can realise their full potential and live great lives.
PC Now, let’s talk about co-production. When I think about co-production in the context of Lifeways I always think of Josie, who we support. Josie lives in Morecambe, for our listeners, on the Lancashire coast, she’s in her 20s, and she lives in a Lifeways supported living service.
And Josie defines co-production like this. She says, when I get support it’s a working together and helping each other thing. What do you think of Josie’s own definition of co-production?
JA She’s absolutely bob on. She really has summed up perfectly that co-production, particularly for Lifeways, is about the relationship between us as an organisation and of course the people we support. It’s about coming together as equal partners, sharing power to find solutions, and ultimately to drive and improve the quality of lives of the guys we support. She has really summed that up well.
PC Fab. I like that definition too. For people who don’t know, we’re an organisation with 11,000 colleagues, and many are all across the country, in Scotland, in England, in Wales, including ourselves who mostly work from home. How do you ensure here that our co-production programmes are cascaded down to service level?
JA There are a couple of things here, really. Obviously, driving our personalisation culture is important to every single one of us in our organisation. Everyone at Lifeways, as part of their induction, receives personalisation training, and I know that our co-production ambassadors, champions, and our quality checkers, are out there day in day out promoting our values.
Workplace is also really helpful. Workplace is our electronic communications platform, and it’s absolutely instrumental in promoting and sharing all our co-production initiatives and resources. So on this platform colleagues cannot only access all the supporting tools and information they need to really drive co-production, but they also share the fantastic and powerful stories.
Stories that if I’ve had a difficult day I bob onto Workplace, and some of the stuff that I see around co-production and personalisation is really inspiring to me, and I know that it really inspires others to co-produce and personalise. That’s really the main way that we ensure personalisation and co-production in terms of our culture, updates, what we’re doing, is cascaded across the organisation.
PC Right. It always feels like as a sector we don’t always often like to look back at the past too much, 20 to 30 years ago the supported living sector was of course very different from how it is now. How far have we come in terms of overall personalisation and support?
JA For me the difference is absolutely night and day. In fact, I’m coming up for my 33rd year this year, I’ve been in this sector, and I started off as a young teenager in nursing homes for older people, about the late 80s. And personally, I saw people move into service land, and I call that service land, for me it didn’t matter for these people who moved into the service, it didn’t matter what they did prior to moving in, or the status they held. That didn’t matter once you moved into the home, you were now in service land, where you moved to the rhythm and pace of the service.
This meant that I witnessed people having to get up and go to bed at a set time, eat their meals at a set time, even having to go to the toilet at a set time, that’s what good care and support looked like then. It was about caring for people, not supporting and doing with, I didn’t see people included in any of the planning or decision-making in their day-to-day life, choice wasn’t promoted. Apart from your menu, that was about it for choice, really.
People were expected just to be a passive recipient of care, and it wasn’t out of abuse or out of malice, it was out of ignorance, as in that’s what good care and support looked like then. It was literally about ensuring the service ran smoothly, not about the personal needs of the people that we cared for.
It was only really in my early 20s, when I went working with people with learning disabilities, and for the first time I received personalisation training and development. And it was a massive culture shift for me, it was a real lightbulb moment, because suddenly I was enabled to see people as individuals, with their own hopes and aspirations, different preferences, and with the same rights and responsibilities as anyone else. They weren’t patients, they were people.
Also, in terms of what I really think has driven personalisation in the sector, I would say regulation. Regulation does present some challenges for providers, but regulating the sector, I think that was about 2004, has really driven up not only the quality of care and support, but as I say, the personalisation agenda. There was also some key guidance and legislation which was introduced, again to promote the personalisation agenda.
So for example, the 2007 paper, Putting People First, that was the first time where the government outlined its vision to improve adult social care by actually adopting the personalisation agenda. And then of course the Social Care Act in 2012, and that then gave commissioners a duty to promote the involvement of people in decisions relating to their care and support.
So, I know we still hear horror stories like Winterbourne View, and we hear things on Panorama, and the news, etc, but for me we’ve come so far in the personalisation landscape for the sector. So yes, for me definitely the momentum’s been massive. We can still do better, but definitely moved forward.
PC Right, that’s interesting. And while we’re on the topic of personalisation and co-production, is there anything else that you feel just needs to be said that we may not have covered at this point in time?
JA Not really, but to me that personalisation, I was doing some reflection on this when you asked me to do the podcast, I think it’s probably the key motivator that has kept me in the sector all these years. I’m really proud to work for an organisation like Lifeways that is equally as committed to personalisation, we’re always continually learning, reflecting.
Ultimately, we’re always trying to create that listening-learning culture around how can we do personalisation even better, we want to continually improve, and just to ensure the people we support have great lives.
PC What’s the general feedback and understanding that you see from parents and family members of people we support regarding personalisation and co-production, how do you see their reaction or response to these initiatives?
JA Families and carers, they just want the best for the people they support. They know them really well, the people we support, know their care and support needs the best, and they just want tailored support that meets the needs, the hopes, aspirations of their loved one, that’s the expectation.
Again Workplace, we hear stories about families, about the great things they’ve said. I look at the Customer Satisifaction surveys that come back, we run regular engagement forums and surveys, and on the whole the feedback’s really positive. And where it’s not, again we listen, we learn, we respond, and we support people to get it right.
PC Great. This is a note to our listeners, Workplace is the colleague in-house social media platform. It’s actually originally owned by Facebook, and it works and looks an awful lot like Facebook, which is good because most people have Facebook and they know what to do. And it’s really just a platform for people to post and share ideas, memos, and things that as a company we need to know, and also just really good news stories.
So I don’t know if you’ve also noticed this, Jodie, there’s a really good amount of content on there nowadays which people have posted up about co-production meetings, and even just huge milestones in people’s lives, and small milestones in people’s lives. It’s a really positive space.
JA Paul, you’re not wrong, and I’m happy to share some of the examples, if that’s helpful.
PC Yes, definitely.
JA So for example, Jennifer, Richard, and Kevin, they live over in Berwick, and they recently joined our Quality Checkers initiative. Not to labour the point, but it’s an initiative where the people we support as experts by experience, they assess the quality and support of the care and support we provide. And these guys there wanted to take that further and go and assess the care and support in other people’s homes, and they recently got together to design their own ID badges.
It’s brilliant, we’ve been able to take their concept, and work with our marketing team and get that looking really bob-on in a way they wanted. But that small piece of work has actually meant that they’ve widened their network, they’ve made new friends, and they’ve gained further skills and purpose.
Another example that I absolutely love is Dan, who lives over in Newbiggin, he recently used the person-centred thinking tool, staff-matching, to think about things like personality skills and shared interests he wanted in his supporters. And he was matched with David, one of his support team who also shares his passion for gardening, and they’ve really dreamt big together.
Dan now has a thriving garden, he's growing his own produce, avocados would you believe, but he’s now making plans to develop a local piece of land into another growing area and get some of his co-tenants involved. Again, widening his network, friendships, skills, and purpose.
But the one that I was informed about that we had on Workplace a couple of weeks ago I absolutely loved, was Kevin, who lives over in Burton. He really wanted a Union Jack themed, one of those massive reclining armchairs, but the dimensions of the chair were too large for his room, and he couldn’t find a Union Jack upholstered one to fit his room. But he worked with his supporters, he didn’t give up on his dream, and they supported him to find this showroom that make things bespoke.
And he’s had a recliner chair, it’s a little smaller, but it’s been made specially to fit his room. Unfortunately, his budget didn’t stretch to the Union Jack fabric, but he’s still got a themed chair because he’s bought Union Jack cushions, covers, and a throw. So again, it doesn’t have to be complicated, listen to what people are telling us and asking us, and act on it. It’s as simple as that, really.
PC Yes, it sounds like keeping it simple obviously is not a Lifeways slogan, but nevertheless an appropriate one.
JA It starts with engagement, doesn’t it? I think if you don’t engage with people you don’t solicit that feedback, you don’t listen to their stories around their experiences, if you don’t do the front bit you’re not going to get the outcome of personalisation. And I think that’s the mistake, people are that entrenched in operations and delivering services that they forget to engage, and listen, and consult, and co-produce.
And you can’t have that end outcome, which is the outcome the person wants, you can’t shape your organisation to be personalised if you’re not listening to the experiences of the people you’re supporting, and their hopes, aspirations, and needs. So I think that’s the mistake that’s easy to make, when you stop listening you can’t personalise and co-produce, and I would say that’s maybe one of the biggest mistakes.
PC Thank you for speaking to us, Jodie, it’s been really interesting to hear all about personalisation and co-production.
JA Thank you, Paul. It’s really great for me to, not [unclear] that passion, because I always cover it and it’s one of my guiding principles, but just lovely to be able to talk to you about the experiences within Lifeways.
PC Absolutely. And thanks to you, the listener, for tuning in to this episode of Yes to You. We’ll be releasing new episodes all about adult supported and residential living, and the wider social care sector, every month. So if you haven’t already, please do subscribe, and see you next time.