SCIE opinion - 25 March 2013

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Photograph of Allan Bowman

Allan Bowman’s advice to the next SCIE Chair

From Allan Bowman, SCIE's outgoing chair.

A few years ago I chaired a seminar, which looked at SCIE’s approach to child protection. Having been a guest on Newsnight following the death of Baby Peter in Haringey, this was an area of SCIE’s work I was particularly interested in. Halfway through the seminar, on SCIE’s “Learning Together” model to serious case reviews, I sat back in my seat and experienced a moment of total pride. It was thorough, expert, based on evidence and had fantastic practical uses. The programme has gone on to greater heights and I’m not surprised.

The thing I’ve been most proud about during my involvement with SCIE is how the organisation can stand apart from the confusion and make sense of everything. The need for that is even greater now in 2013 than when I started in 2006; SCIE makes sense, and acts as a voice in times of change. There’s the economy but there’s also changes to things like health and social care integration. Some of our most useful – and best – work has been looking at how to maximise joined-up services.

And we must never forget about people who use services; but, in the context of the changes as described above, we must especially not forget those people at risk or vulnerable people who deserve the best quality services. Yet SCIE has been very good at listening and engaging with people who use services. Our work on personalisation has been key. We want to inform decision-makers, yes, but we also want to treat service-users as stakeholders, and they are just as important.

With that in mind, I’m proud that we have a range of people on the SCIE board, including those who use or have used services. The new SCIE co-production way of working means that service users are involved in writing reports, not just acting as “consultants”. This way, we’ve got more chance of getting things right.

This has partly been because we make our materials accessible to everyone from service users to policy makers, from people who work in social care to carers. The technological changes that I’ve witnessed since 2006 have been incredible. These days, people expect video blogs from the Chief Executive to appear on Facebook!

So I send my fondest wishes, and the best of luck to Lord Michael Bichard. He is such a strong appointment; just what SCIE and the sector needs; and I feel reassured that SCIE's future is in safe hands.

My main piece of advice to Michael is to keep SCIE as an independent voice, and one that stands up for people who use services, who haven’t always been represented as well as they could have been.

So it’s goodbye from me, and hello from him. And all the best of luck to SCIE. It’s been a fantastic seven years and I’ll miss everyone.

See also

Social Care Online

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