Council services supporting adult social care

Who is this resource for?

This resource will offer guidance for council / wider local authority services that support adult social care to understand what a strengths based approach is, what it means to their role and how to ensure their practice is strengths-based.

A council service supporting Adult Social Care (ASC) refers to employees in the department/wider local authority who work in non-social work/occupational therapy roles but do perform tasks that support or enable social work/occupational therapy interventions and therefore the provision of care and support to people that access the services.

This resource specifically addresses what does strengths-based practice mean for the following council services supporting ASC:

  • Commissioners Open

    Commissioners are people responsible for identifying population needs and the priority outcomes for individuals and communities. They work with a range of providers to devise a service specification to deliver those outcomes and procure a preferred provider.

    Arts professional

    Examples of where commissioners will use a strengths-based approach:

    • To establish and maintain provider relationships.
    • To identify unmet needs and promote market development.
  • Direct payment administrators Open

    Direct payment administrators work alongside assessment and care management, and finance, ensuring that the payment, processing and use of direct payments is legal and appropriate to agreed criteria.

    Examples of where direct payment administrators will use a strengths-based approach:

    • To support the provision of clear and easy to understand information and advice.
    • To ensure co-ordination with social care practitioners.
  • Contracts and procurement roles Open

    Procurement and contracts roles will work with project and administrative staff to ensure timely and compliant procurement of goods and services and tight management of contracts.

    Procurement roles are more general and cover many aspects from selecting vendors to negotiating contracts and purchasing products. Procurement roles also have quite a strategic impact on businesses and their goals.

    Procurement contract management is the process of managing contracts related to procurement and purchases made as a part of legal documentation of forging work relationships with customers, vendors, or even partners. It comprises negotiating the terms and conditions of contracts.

    Examples of where contracts and procurement roles will use a strengths-based approach:

    • To monitor quality of partners standards.
    • To support high quality care and support and information on the services available.
  • System and business support roles Open

    Systems and business functions staff support other departments and roles within the ASC department in the performance of their roles, carrying out a variety of tasks and functions such as updating and maintaining IT systems, updating and maintaining workflows, filing (online or otherwise), administration, and logistics, etc.

    Examples of where system and business support roles will use a strengths-based approach:

    • Ensuring systems support contacts with the community.
    • Liaising with social care practitioners, supporting their roles and ensuring systems do so too.
  • Financial operations roles (invoicing, payments, financial assessment): Open

    Financial operations covers a broad range of functions. Types of activity include purchasing, income, cash and grants management, master data set up, and processes that impact individuals directly such as expenses and payroll interaction.

    Examples of where financial operation roles will use a strengths-based approach:

    • Ensuring financial information is available and up-to-date.
    • Liaising with brokerage and social care practitioners to ensure accurate and prompt financial information.
  • Performance management roles Open

    Performance management is what an organisation does to realise its potential against performance targets, to deliver high-quality services and to identify opportunities for improvement, change and innovation.

    The Performance Manager for ASC takes the lead on developing and maintaining fit-for-purpose performance management and intelligence frameworks, and ensures the timeliness and accuracy of statutory returns. Leading a team of performance management officers who will work with operational teams to ensure that they have access to valuable and effective management information, and that robust intelligence is at the heart of service provision.

    Examples of where performance management roles will use a strengths-based approach:

    • Creating reports and feedback that enables better management of contracts.
    • Ensuring appropriate reports are available to maximise individuals' outcomes.

Why is this important for me when working in a council services supporting adult social care role?

Every intervention undertaken by a local authority member of staff in relation to the provision of care and support is regulated by the Care Act 2014. Regardless of whether these interventions are front line or back office, and whether they have direct contact with individuals in the community or not.

The Care Act statutory guidance is very clear that the Act places an expectation that every local authority works in a person-centred and strengths-based way to fulfil, amongst others, their legal duty of promoting individual wellbeing.

When employed by a local authority it is expected that a core set of values underpins our work, and at the heart of each of these values is the person accessing support from the services that a local authority provides.

These value statements and SCIE’s definition reflect the overarching principles for National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines derived from people’s experiences in ASC services:

1.1.1 Recognise that each person who uses services is an individual. Use each person’s self-defined strengths, preferences, aspirations and needs as the basis on which to provide care and support to live an independent life.

1.1.2 Support people to maintain their independence. This means finding out what people want from their life and providing the support and assistance they need to do this’.

The contribution of council services supporting ASC to people’s experiences

The Care Act and strengths-based practice means that all interventions become holistic, person-centred and outcomes focused, and will result in better outcomes and lives for individuals.

Recent evidence, along with our experience of supporting dozens of councils, shows that strengths-based ways of working are only successful when you adopt a whole-place or whole-system approach, involving not just adult social care, but also the NHS, housing, community organisations and local people.

The following graphic illustrates how the ASC enabling roles help to support a person that accesses support.

Despite an increased focus on strengths-based practice, if services are commissioned, performance-managed and inspected in a way that is risk averse, looks for quick fixes, and values outputs over outcomes, it will limit workers’ potential to employ strengths-based approaches.

At the end of the day the core duty of the Care Act, the legislation which underpins all functions within a Local Authority, is to promote individual wellbeing, which is broader than ‘meeting eligible needs'.