Daydreaming of ‘Support England’

I have always been a daydreamer since I was a child, thinking up big ideas to how I would improve a specific company, or part of the government, in great detail. I think it may be a part of my mild bipolar, a way to focus my thoughts, as well as solving the bigger problems in life. One of these big ideas I currently have is ‘Support England’, which is my solution for the future of social care, as well as disability related benefits. I thought in the month another Simon Stevens has started his post as the chief executive of NHS England, it would be apt if I shared this idea with my Huff readers.

The central idea is to take the money from all the disability related benefits and social care, too many to list here, and put it into one single pot that people can access via one locally commissioned assessment based on individual outcomes and needs. The idea is nothing new and Labour has shown its interest in the idea for a potential manifesto commitment, but I am unsure if anyone has figured out how to implement it, and this is why I am currently preparing a detailed report on how it could work and this is where Support England comes into play.

I will not bore you with the finer details, especially as I am still working it out, but basically Support England will be the governing body for funding, setting the guidelines and standards, supported by a network of local bodies like “Support Coventry” who will commission assessments from local specialist teams, who will simply do assessments that are funded by the local body. Support England would solely focus on funding issues, and will have a sister organisation, “Assist England” that will focus on the commissioning and regulation of social care, transforming the care and support agenda to a support and assistance agenda, focused on outcomes.

The single payment/budget will only be available to people with a longer term need, but there will be a greater focus on ‘free’ discharge, rehabilitation and enablement services to ensure people get what they need when they need it so they can effectively reach their maximum potential, or reach a point of stability in the loosest sense of the word. At this point, there will have one main assessment from a named and contactable person who will actively coordinate their application.

Most importantly the assessment will not be interested in people’s medical history, but instead focus on individual’s specific outcomes, their impairment specific difficulties in meeting their outcomes, and what they specifically need to achieve their outcomes. The way the funding is provided will be as flexible and as clear as possible, designed around what works for individuals, but will be for a fixed but flexibly decided period of time, where reviews and reassessments take place before the current funding finishes.

If my idea were to happen, it would be one of the biggest changes ever to happen to social care and the welfare state, requiring everyone involved to work and think differently. Paid work will always be one of the things that is likely to be discussed at assessments, understanding there may be a long journey of personal development and other support needs before some people reached this goal, if at all. But people’s emotional development will be a big part of any assessment, something that has been lacking in the ESA and DLA/PIP assessments.

I strongly believe there will be huge long term benefits for the inclusion and equality of sick, disabled and older people. By moving away from label based benefits that a award arbitrary figures that have no bearing on individual need, and reducing the number of assessment some individuals are subjected to, any government can ensure best value that dramatically improves the life opportunities people have.

It will not be easy but I do believe Support England is the way forward and I think it is only a matter of time before my idea becomes a reality to some degree.

from Simon Stevens


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