Bold new way of thinking in delivering adult social care

People who use adult social care in Oxfordshire are having increasing influence over the shape of the services they receive as the county council breaks down barriers between professionals and service users.

Oxfordshire County Council has already used what is called “co-production” in designing services on a number of occasions and is now in the process of mainstreaming the approach.

The council already has a strong track record of extensive service user engagement in designing services, such as the buying of services through the re-procurement of the largest supported living provider in Oxfordshire.

Evaluation of services through the county council’s Quality Checker service is also well established. The rationale for this scheme is for service users and their families to visit services across Oxfordshire to form a view about what they do well and how they could improve.

Only a handful of authorities are currently operating this way – delivering adult social care in an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, service users and their families.

Co-production is going to be delivered in three ways in Oxfordshire

  • In the design and redesign of services,
  • In the buying of services (through service user and family input to awarding business to providers)
  • Through the ongoing evaluation of the quality of services.

Kate Terroni said: “This is seen across the country as a bold new way of thinking about public services that has the potential to deliver a major shift in the way we provide adult social care and other services.

“It is a fundamental change to the way a service is delivered with the objective of delaying the need for services and better meeting those need when they arise, rebuilding the social infrastructure and shifting the balance of power.”

“The best people to give input on a services such as, for instance, domiciliary care are surely the people who use it. The service users bring innovation to service redesign and ensure that we’re more likely to get in right first time by utilising the fantastic skills and expertise of people who know these services.

“People who receive care also often have previously or still run their own households or businesses. They know that in real life budgets have to be set and adhered to in every walk of life – it’s not in the interests of anybody for valuable money to be wasted, not the council and not the service users. Finances should be spent in the most efficient way possible for all concerned – including drawing out the very best service for service users.”

Kathy Liddell’s daughter India has recently transitioned from children’s to adult social care and Kathy, from Witney, has been helping give advice to the county council about its transitions service as part of a wider co-production project.

She said: “It’s very important that councils bring together everybody involved in services including those who use it because gthey can bring so many experiences on how things have and haven’t worked. I’ve enjoyed the experience and seeing my contribution make a real difference.”

Tony Hunter, the Chief Executive of the Social Care Instistute of Excellence, said: "It's been lovely to hear about the experiences of Kathy and her daughter. This is about bringing in everybody and recognising that professionals do not have all the solutions. All credit to Oxfordshire County Council for being to open to new ways of working.

"Oxfordshire County Council is being really pioneering in saying let's make sure people at the sharp end who receive services are involved every step of the way."