Improving outcomes for service users in adult placement - Commissioning and care management
Commissioning adult placement - Adult placement profile
The project group discussions suggest that the extent to which adult placement is known varies widely between and within localities. Even where adult placement has been in operation for many years, awareness can be quite localised, perhaps limited to just a few social workers. While care managers and others attending the project discussion groups were quite knowledgeable about adult placement, they confirmed that many of their colleagues were not: they might, for example, consider placements as mini care homes. Participants thought most people - service users, prospective adult placement carers, practitioners - learned about adult placement by word of mouth.
At a national level, the National Association of Adult Placement Services (NAAPS) works on behalf of its member schemes to enhance understanding of adult placement. NAAPS is currently looking at the 'branding’ of the sector, and whether the term 'adult placement’ misrepresents a service based on individualised support in a family setting.
In all localities visited, discussion group participants highlighted the importance of increasing awareness of adult placement among commissioners, aiming to ensure that it is always included as an option on health and social services menus (see Local needs). Participants spoke of the need to improve communication between schemes and social/healthcare professionals: 'Good working relationships need to be worked at, over time,’ one scheme manager said.
Participants suggested, for example, that scheme staff could visit community teams; an SSD finance officer could shadow an adult placement worker; or local authority and scheme staff could get involved in each other’s groups and networks (e.g. joining health action or person-centred planning coordinating groups). Recent initiatives include:
- in Staffordshire, following discussion of misunderstandings and difficulties in communication between the adult placement scheme and the learning disability team, the SSD agreed to have a named social worker in the learning disabilities team to liaise with the scheme and through whom all referrals will be channelled. The scheme is producing a flowchart for social care colleagues, setting out how adult placement processes work.
- in Herefordshire, the scheme manager attends the special monthly learning disability team meetings which look at service users’ accommodation needs, helping to ensure that the scheme is aware of individuals’ up-coming needs, that placement vacancies are known in advance by the team, and that adult placement is always 'on the agenda’.
Raising the profile of adult placement was an issue in all localities. Successful current practice includes:
- in Lewisham, the scheme manager visits local community mental health teams and sends 'email adverts’ to colleagues, and the scheme is well known to all mental health team staff.
- in Essex, the Home Share Day Care scheme is advertised through, for example, village and church newsletters and publicity leaflets in doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries, aimed at prospective carers and volunteer drivers.
Senior managers should:
- Ensure that service managers, social workers and care managers understand the adult placement model and what it can offer, and know about the local adult placement scheme.
Line managers should:
- Include information about adult placement in care management induction training.
Care managers should:
- Establish and maintain regular contact with the local adult placement scheme.
Adult placement schemes should:
- Work to communicate to local authority staff at all levels, through personal contact and other methods, the benefits of the adult placement model.