If the Coalition Government’s Vision for Social Care is to become a reality, the managers of front-line services will lead many of the changes necessary. But after years of compliance with top-down policies, can these managers take the initiative?
Responding to government’s White Paper on Social Care, John Burton, the head of the Association of Care Managers (ACM) said: “The people who manage direct services, such as care homes, home care teams, and day care, are the people who are going to make this work.”
Burton continues: “For too long these managers have been dominated by a top-down bureaucracy which has diverted them from their real work. And, in consequence, some have lost the initiative. They no longer lead; they simply follow orders.
However, there are countless examples of real leadership and innovation where care managers use their creativity and imagination, and put the people who use their services first. They’ve encouraged staff and users to find new ways to meet needs. They have built care communities where residents and staff feel valued and relate as equals and friends. And, if given the chance, they will play a major part in the transformation of social care that is set out in the government’s “vision”.
These leaders make their service a real part of their local communities but initiatives have too often been blocked or strangled by red-tape. Regulation and standards - and most crucially their misuse and ignorant application - must support innovation and diversification. While ACM is calling for annual inspections (at a minimum) of care services, we need inspectors who value care and relationships above policies and procedures, and who will support services that are dedicated to the wellbeing, safety and rights of the people who use them.
Head of the Association of Care Managers