Relationships and Networks – “A Human sized piece of work” in social care?
Blog by Sam Clark
In late May I got to spend several days with Eddie Bartnik, one of the people who 1st developed Local Area Coordination in Western Australia nearly 30 years ago. Eddie has stayed in touch with Local Area Coordination’s growth & practice both internationally as well as in Australia. What really struck me from our conversations was I kept hearing in different guises Eddie say ‘Do what people tell you works, know where it will fit & contribute in a coherent system and keep learning or redesigning as you grow and embed’.
That approach to thinking about a new community support system makes so much sense to me. We know what works for people in nearly every situation in life, let alone when you’re asking for help from health or social care, is to have a consistent relationship with someone who listens, treats you with respect & reliably does what they say. I would also personally add in that those in a support or care role should been mindful of their own power and agency in the relationship.
Listening to Eddie & reflecting on recent conversations with people connected to the 6 innovations I was struck that they are all ways of working that have strong relationships at their heart. The emphasis of those relationships may be different but relationships are the key to their success.
Local Area Coordinators walk alongside people (or families) as they take action to achieve their vision of a good life helping them build relationships through contribution.
Shared Lives carers (and Home sharers) share their home and family life with people often creating long term strong relationships
Community Catalyst coordinators work alongside people to realise their potential & develop the enterprise they want to become local sustainable creators
Well Being teams are self-sustaining & formed on a neighbourhood level to provide consistent person centred care
Circles Connectors support volunteers to bring people together to help someone make connections & build the community relationships that make sense to them
These ways of working are not the only ones working like this but they all also meet another criteria for success Eddie set me off thinking about. He suggested staff should only be asked to do a “Human sized piece of work”. A piece of work that is not system wide, pathway long or enormous case load dominated but human sized – something you can manage on a human level.
Working at & with KeyRing Living Support Networks taught me about the power of being a contributor, not only a recipient & the possibility of always thinking about person by person, place by place. There I was introduced to Asset Based Community Development & the life (& community changing) power of asking the right questions, systems stepping back & people taking action together on what they care about.
All of it Human sized work predicated on strong relationships, under pinned by values of inclusion, respect & a belief in everyone as someone with capacity and contribution.
If we are to have a social care green paper & the system reform we know is desperately needed I would build on the things people tell us work and have a variety of components that make sense together but do not limit difference.