Leeds City Council Adult Social Care is changing the way we work to develop a ‘strengths-based approach’. This means working together with people to find out what they want to achieve and the best way to do this, supporting people to use their strengths and those of their family, friends and community. The aim is to enable people to achieve their goals, reach their full potential and reduce reliance upon traditional services.
This change in the way we work is essential to help us get better at supporting people to achieve all these things:
- Being in control of their lives
- Having ordinary lives – family, friends, work, leisure
- Promoting their strengths, to be the best they can be
“A strengths-based approach to care, support and inclusion says let’s look first at what people can do with their skills and their resources and what can the people around them do in their relationships and their communities. People need to be seen as more than just their care needs – they need to be experts and in charge of their own lives.”
Alex Fox, chief executive of the charity Shared Lives
Here in the Learning Disability Service, we have started a project to make these changes. The project has been named ‘Being Me’ after the Leeds Learning Disability Partnership Board Strategy 2015 – 2018 ‘Being Me’. The Strategy sets out the priorities for the Partnership Board and its members (which includes people with learning disabilities) over the next three years. The three main priorities identified by people with learning disabilities as important to them are:
- Being Safe
- Being Well
- Being Connected
The aim of the Being Me Project is to understand what people’s goals are and what they need in order to achieve them, to build better links with the local community, and to increase local knowledge amongst social care staff of existing informal networks and groups. In doing this, staff will be better equipped to link people in to informal support, and to help them maintain their independence, build on existing strengths and remain within their communities. Helping people achieve the 3 priorities in the Being Me Strategy – being safe, well and connected.
A Being Me Project Team has been set up to oversee this work, and several key organisations have been invited to join this group and share their expertise, including Tenfold and Carers Leeds.
What does this mean for Carers?
At the heart of this approach is recognition of the fundamental role of informal and family carers, who provide direct care, support, advocacy and in many cases are the “voice” of the cared-for person. The involvement of family and informal carers throughout this work is therefore vital.
In December 2016, the Carers Leeds blog stated ‘we need to encourage carers to identify as a carer and access the information, advice and support available to them in their caring role’.
A critical part of the work of the Being Me Project is to develop a more effective way of identifying family and informal carers and ensuring they receive the support they need. We have already started working closely with Carers Leeds to consider how we can do this.
The project will ensure staff will take a more consistent and proactive approach in both identifying family and informal carers, and in signposting them to Carers Leeds for more information and support (including offering to make the first contact).
We want carers to contribute to the development of this approach so that we get it right. We are delighted that Carers Leeds have agreed to get involved and ensure carers representation. The Learning Disability Service and Carers Leeds will keep you up to date on how the work is progressing. Should you have any comments, suggestions or wish to provide any feedback, please feel free to do so via Carers Leeds.